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Questions to ask your breast cancer doctors

Knowledge is power when it comes to breast cancer, and breast cancer treatment. Knowing more about the condition, treatments and side effects can help avoid some worry and uncertainty.

Cancer specialists may use unfamiliar terms, or assume people already have a good understanding about breast cancer.

Don't be afraid to ask your cancer doctors or breast cancer nurses if you don't understand something.

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

10 questions to ask the oncologist

  1. Why are you recommending this therapy?
  2. What are the risks?
  3. Are there other ways to treat the cancer?
  4. Where do I go for chemotherapy or hormone therapy?
  5. Will I be able to drive myself home after treatment, or do I need help?
  6. How long does the treatment last?
  7. What are the risks and side effects?
  8. Will my hair fall out? Will it grow back?
  9. What about premature menopause and infertility?
  10. What should I avoid during treatment?
  11. Should I change my diet or lifestyle?

10 questions to ask the surgeon

  1. Why are you recommending this procedure? How often have you done this procedure?
  2. What are the risks? How do they compare with the benefits?
  3. How do I prepare for surgery?
  4. What type of anaesthesia will I have?
  5. What happens during and immediately after surgery?
  6. Who do I talk to about breast reconstruction?
  7. How long will I be in the hospital?
  8. What are the possible complications?
  9. When can I go back to work and resume normal activities?
  10. What are the risks of lymphoedema?

Before surgery, your surgeon should provide:

  • Specific instructions to follow in the days before surgery
  • An overview of the surgical procedures
  • Information about recovery and follow-up care

After surgery, look out for complications such as infection or lymphoedema ( swelling in your arm or hand). Seek medical advice immediately if you see signs of swelling, a build-up of fluid, redness or other symptoms of infection.

10 questions to ask the radiotherapy consultant

  1. What is the goal of radiotherapy?
  2. Does radiotherapy affect fertility?
  3. What are the risks and side effects?
  4. Where do I go for radiotherapy?
  5. How long does each session last?
  6. How many weeks does treatment last?
  7. Does radiotherapy make me radioactive?
  8. What should I avoid during treatment?
  9. Should I change my diet or lifestyle?
  10. Does radiotherapy affect having breast reconstruction?
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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on March 28, 2016

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