A breast cancer diagnosis can leave you feeling overwhelmed with many questions. Our goal is to help you address some of these questions head-on so that you can prepare for your first oncology appointment. We hope this guide will make your path to breast cancer treatment a bit smoother.
After a cancer diagnosis, you will transition to seeing an oncologist. Oncology is the study of cancer. An oncologist is a medically trained doctor who leads the care for patients after a cancer diagnosis. As a patient of Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center, you will have access to oncologists at one convenient location.
Once your oncologist has learned more about your specific diagnosis, he/she will consult with you and the rest of your care team to develop a personalized treatment plan. Your care team will include several specialists, that typically include:
Surgery may seem like a logical first step; however, some patients can benefit from a different approach. Visiting with a medical oncologist first will help determine the best treatment for your specific diagnosis.
Every breast cancer diagnosis is unique; therefore, our team is committed to caring for each patient individually.
Sometimes you may not need surgery right away. Your medical oncologist will review the information they have available to them to determine if some treatments for breast cancer would be helpful before surgery is performed. Then, you can discuss options for breast surgery including a lumpectomy or mastectomy, and the various options for each.
A number of breast cancer treatments are available for breast cancer patients. Depending on your cancer, some patients may only one or two types of treatment, while others may need more as oncologists determine how your body responds to the treatment, including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, and radiation therapy.
The decision to have breast reconstruction surgery is a personal one and should be considered carefully. Your team of breast cancer specialists can walk you through your breast reconstruction surgery options and explain how deciding before your mastectomy can play a role in your overall treatment plan.
WVCI can access the latest clinical trials in several convenient locations. These breast cancer clinical trials help uncover various new treatment options, including new breast cancer treatments and allow many patients to receive newly developed therapies or investigational drugs not yet available outside the study.
If you feel as though a clinical trial is something you’d be interested in, talk with your oncologist to determine if you would make a good candidate.
While every cancer journey is different, support is something that can be beneficial to any patient. We highly recommend that you take a relative or friend with you to your first appointment. Not only will they be there to provide emotional support, but they can also listen and help take notes on all the information you will be discussing. Having an extra set of ears may help you recall details later on.
During your first oncology appointment, you’ll be given a lot of information that may be hard to remember. To ensure you don’t miss anything, we suggest having a notebook to record important information. This notebook can be a place to include notes on how you’re feeling and the schedule of any medicines or supplements you’re taking. It is also a good place to jot down any questions, thoughts, or observations you think of between appointments with your cancer care team. When possible, add a date to your entry so all of your thoughts and notes are organized.
If you prefer a more modern method, consider taking notes on your smartphone or even recording audio clips. Whatever method suits you best is fine— pick one method and commit to using it regularly. Having well-documented information is one of the best ways to maintain open communication between you, your doctors, and your caretakers.
It’s important that you are confident about your breast cancer diagnosis. Many patients choose to get a second opinion before beginning any specific breast cancer treatment plans. At Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center, our physicians provide second opinions on breast cancer diagnosis and treatment options. Many insurance companies will cover a second opinion assessment. However, you should contact your insurance provider for verification of coverage for second opinion appointments.
The breast cancer doctors at WVCI are here to support you every step of the way, providing our patients with everything they need to feel both informed and empowered during this time. Various national resources may help you too. Visit our Support Services page or read frequently asked breast cancer questions answered by our oncologists for more breast cancer resources. Various national resources may help too.
Once you have completed breast cancer treatment, your oncologist will want to monitor you closely. Therefore, it is crucial to go to all of your follow-up appointments. During these visits, your doctor will address your questions and concerns, ask about side effects related to treatment, and discuss other follow-up treatments that may be necessary, such as hormone therapy or reconstructive surgery. Remember to bring your notebook (or other documentation methods) and a support partner to as many visits as possible.