Talking with Your Doctor
Talking openly with your doctor is one of the best ways to feel good about your breast cancer treatment decisions and your care.
Bring a family member or friend to your appointments
When meeting with your doctor, it’s a good idea to bring a family member or friend who can help ask questions and discuss the answers later. You’re likely to hear a lot of new information and you may feel overwhelmed.
Having an extra pair of ears may help recall and understand the information given.
If someone cannot be with you in person, ask if they can be there virtually, over the computer or phone.
Recording the discussion on a cell phone, small tape recorder or other device can be helpful (even if someone is with you at the appointment).
When talking with doctors is hard
Talking with doctors can be hard for some people. These can be unfamiliar and stressful situations, and some doctors may be hurried or unskilled at answering questions.
There are many resources to help make these discussions easier. We have tips to help you talk with your doctors more effectively in our fact sheet “Talking with Your Doctor.”
Talking with your doctor about your treatment plan
Your breast cancer treatment plan is based on both medical and personal choices. Together, you and your health care provider make treatment decisions to fit the goals of your care. This is called shared decision-making.
After you get a recommended treatment plan from your provider, take time to study your treatment options. Talk to those closest to you. Consider getting a second opinion.
Make thoughtful, informed decisions that are best for you. Each treatment option has risks and benefits to consider along with your own values and lifestyle.
Your treatment is tailored to:
- Your specific breast cancer (the biology of the tumor)
- The stage of the breast cancer
- Your overall health, age and other medical issues
- Your personal preferences
Because of the differences between tumors and between people, your treatment plan may differ from someone else’s, even though you both have breast cancer.
Talking about family health history with your doctor
Your family history of breast cancer and other cancers is important to discuss with your doctor. This information helps your doctor understand your risk of breast cancer (and for those diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk of breast cancer returning).
Susan G. Komen®‘s My Family Health History Tool
|My Family Health History tool is a web-based tool that makes it easy for you to record and organize your family health history. It can help you gather information that’s useful as you talk with your doctor or genetic counselor.|
In 2013, the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academy of Sciences (formerly the Institutes of Medicine) released a set of recommendations (below) on improving cancer care in the U.S.
The report Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis recommends ways to fix shortcomings that add cost and burden to cancer care. Susan G. Komen was one of 13 organizations that sponsored this study.
The report identified key ways to improve quality of care:
Read the full report.