Breast cancer

Questions to ask

Questions for your surgeon

  1. How much of my breast needs to be removed?
  2. Which surgical procedure do you recommend to remove my tumour?
  3. Can I choose between partial mastectomy and mastectomy?
  4. How will my breast look after surgery?
  5. If I have a mastectomy, what is the likelihood that I might still need radiation therapy?
  6. If I choose to have immediate reconstruction, how much will this delay my surgery?
  7. If I don’t have immediate reconstruction, is delayed reconstruction available for me and what would be the wait-time for this?
  8. If I choose to have implants, will they need replacing in the future?
  9. Is chemotherapy before surgery (neo-adjuvant chemotherapy) an option for me?
  10. How long will I need to be in hospital?
  11. How much time should I allow for recovery at home?
  12. When will my first follow-up appointment be scheduled?
  13. If I have a partial mastectomy and radiation therapy, is Intra-Operative Radiation Therapy an option for me?
  14. What should I expect after surgery? Will I have drains, nerve damage or ongoing changes? What will my movement and comfort be like? Will I have feeling in my breast?
  15. Will I need any further treatment after surgery?
  16. How will the breast surgery affect my work, sex life and mobility?
  17. Will I be able to breastfeed in the future?
  18. When should I begin to use the affected arm, and what arm exercises should I do to prevent stiffness?
  19. Can I talk to someone who has had the operation?
  20. How much will the surgery cost?
  21. What support is available after the surgery, in terms of lymphoedema prevention,psychological assistance, survivorship care, or lifestyle advice?

Questions for your oncologist

  1. Do I need to have chemotherapy?
  2. What are the characteristics of my cancer that make this necessary?
  3. How much will this benefit me?
  4. How would my prognosis be affected if I don’t have chemotherapy?
  5. Are there any clinical trials which are appropriate for me?
  6. What side effects can I expect?
  7. How will this affect my fertility?
  8. Can I continue to work during treatment?
  9. How long will the treatment last?
  10. What other tests will I need to have?
  11. What can I do to get ready for treatment?
  12. Do I need hormone therapy?
    • How much benefit would this give me?
    • How long will I need to take it for?
    • What are the common side effects?
  13. Do I need to have radiation therapy?
    • How will this benefit me?
    • What are the risks?
    • What side effects can I expect?
    • How many treatments will I need?
  14. How can I take care of my skin?