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Home | Central | About Breast Cancer | Resources | Questions To Ask

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Questions to Ask Your Health Care Provider

The following information is provided to help guide you in thinking about questions:

  • To ask a health care provider about your breast health

  • To ask your health care team if you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, as you work with them to develop your treatment plan

About Breast Health

A regular check-up with a health care provider can be a good time for you to discuss your breast health, including any unusual breast changes, your risk of breast cancer, being breast aware and screeningScreening:
The search for diseases such as breast cancer in people without symptoms. Mammography is an important tool for breast cancer screening and earlier detection.
for the earlier detection of breast cancer. 

You may wish to discuss the following:

About Breast Cancer Treatment

When you are diagnosed with breast cancer and considering your treatment options, it can be difficult to know what to ask to help guide your decision making. The following questions for your surgeon or oncologistOncologist:
A doctor or surgeon who specializes in treating cancer. A medical oncologist specializes in drug therapy (chemotherapy) for cancer. A radiation oncologist specializes in treating cancer with radiation.
are provided as a guide, to help you prepare for appointments.

You may also find it helpful to ask a family member or friend to attend the appointments with you. They can be a second set of ears, can listen with you, take notes, or remind you of questions that you wanted to ask.

Questions for your surgeon

  • What are my options for breast cancer surgery?

  • What are the benefits, risks and limitations of the different options for surgery?

  • Which type of surgery would you recommend for me and why?

  • How much time do I have to think about my options before I make a decision about my surgery?

  • How common is it to have more than one surgery and why?

  • How long will I have to wait to find out about my surgical pathology results?

  • After surgery, will I remain in hospital? If so, for how long?

  • How long will it take me to recover from the surgery?

  • Will I need help at home as I recover from surgery?

  • Will I have physical limitations after my surgery?

  • Will there be long-term side effects from my surgery? What are the signs and symptoms I should watch out for?

  • Should I consider breast reconstruction? When does this decision have to be made?

  • If I don’t have breast reconstruction, what are my other options?

Questions for your oncologist

  • What type and stageStage:
    A way of classifying breast cancer that describes how far a cancer has spread. It identifies whether breast cancer is at an early, locally advanced or metastatic stage. The stage of breast cancer can sometimes be represented as a number (e.g. between 0 and 4).
    is my cancer?

  • What method(s) of treatment are you recommending and why?

  • What are the benefits, risks and limitations of the different treatment methods?

  • How much time do I have to think about my options before I need to make a decision about my treatment?

  • How does the treatment help? How does it work?

  • When, where and how often will treatments be given?

  • How long will the course of treatment take?

  • What would happen if I refuse this treatment?

  • What are the usual side effects? Will these be short-term or long-term side effects? What are the signs and symptoms I should watch out for?

  • If you are in your reproductive years, you may wish to find out about short- and long-terms effects on your fertility as well as appropriate birth control methods to use while you are being treated for breast cancer.

  • What health problems should I report and to whom?

  • How can I contact you or the health care team between visits?

  • Can I take other medications or supplements during treatment?

  • Can I drink alcohol during treatment? Are there any activities I should avoid during treatment?