You Have Advanced Breast Cancer. What’s next?

I still remember that day very clearly. I was sitting across from my breast cancer surgeon when he took an image. “Looks like a bomb went off in his chest,” he said.

I thought this sounded a little dramatic, but apparently the bump i discovered a few weeks ago it was just the tip of the cancer-berg in my right breast. View and a previous biopsywe were looking advanced breast cancerThis is when the disease has spread to the lymph nodes (scene 3) or other parts of the body (stage 4).

Next step? Create an attack plan.

Follow up appointment schedule

After diagnosis, usually at a follow-up appointment, your doctor or breast cancer surgeon will review the recommended treatment plan and answer all questions. So, before meeting with the doctor, write down any questions you can have about the diagnosis and next steps (here’s a good one). control List).

Typically, the consultation will review the test results and explain any circumstances. follow-up testsincluding biopsy if one hasn’t been done yet. A biopsy involves taking a tissue sample with a needle or, less commonly, through surgery. Additional tests including genetic testingDepending on the diagnosis, it may be necessary to make an appointment with a plastic surgeon, radiologist, and other doctors.

Step two: a second opinion?

After a treatment plan, it’s common for patients with advanced breast cancer to get a second opinion. This may sound strange, but even if you love your doctor, a different pair of eyes might help. “A second opinion is a good thing, especially with regard to advanced breast cancer as there are many alternatives and clinical trials,” I said Kristen Zarfosst. Francis Hospital, medical director and breast surgeon, and a member of Healthy Women Women’s Health Advisory Council. “You want the patient to know all their options.”

You may also want to get a second opinion If you and your primary healthcare provider do not communicate well together or do not meet insurance requirements. Zarfos recommends doing some local research. National Cancer Institute cancer center Seek referral for options or from your primary care doctor/oncologist – unless it delays treatment. “The idea may not change anything, but it gives you peace of mind,” said Zarfos.

during second opinion adviceThe specialist will review your medical records and provide an opinion. For women who are struggling to find a specialist, telehealth is a good way to connect or talk to a specialist, Zarfos said. clinical trials and new therapies for advanced breast cancer.

Trials and treatments

Treatment options for advanced breast cancer can vary considerably. Stage 3 breast cancer typically includes a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and drug therapy. Tier 4 cannot be healed; therefore, treatment is based on a combination of drugs and targeted therapy to help slow progress. But Zarfos said treatment options are constantly evolving.

Clinical trials offer the latest drug treatments or combinations of drug treatments and may be a good option for certain cancers. (To research clinical trials that may be available, try: clinical research search tool).

The best way to move forward with any treatment or clinical trial is to talk to your doctor about options.

For women with limited medical options and treatment barriers, American Cancer Society and CancerCare Help provide local resources, support groups, and financial aid in addition to other cancer-related services.

Advanced breast cancer may raise more questions than answers—but a good plan of attack can help no matter what’s next.

This resource was created with the support of Merck and Sanofi.

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