Your Healthcare Team

During your breast cancer treatment, many skilled medical professionals will come in and out of your life. Some you may never meet or see only in passing, such as the pathologist, who examines cancer under a microscope. Others will work with you one-on-one:

Primary care doctor: The physician who will track your overall health.

Breast surgeon: The doctor who will perform your surgery.

Reconstructive plastic surgeon: The surgeon who can rebuild your breast at the time of mastectomy (and sometimes lumpectomy) surgery.

Radiation oncologist: The doctor who will provide radiation treatments if you need this treatment.

Medical oncologist: The specialist who will treat your cancer with chemotherapy or other drugs, if required.

Oncology nurse/nurse navigator: An expert who provides valuable nursing care, support and education during your journey.

Oncology social worker: The professional who can help you deal with the psychological and social issues—financial concerns—that can arise.

Get the most from your healthcare team

As you start to think about your treatment options, it's important to have a good working relationship with your doctors. You can promote this process by…

  • Being as honest and accurate as possible about your medical history, symptoms and lifestyle.
  • Learning more. Read up on the disease, and jot down questions before any medical visits.
  • Making notes. Write down or tape your doctor's explanations, instructions and answers to your questions. Consider bringing someone along during difficult appointments to be an extra set of ears.
  • Following up: Once you've completed your treatment, ask your oncologist about follow-up. At the very least, you'll need to have a checkup, either with the doctor who treated you or your primary care physician (as long as he or she has communicated with your cancer doctor) every three to six months for the first three to five years, and once yearly after that.


More Articles
Starting Your Cancer Treatment
Your Healthcare Team
What Your Pathology Report Reveals
Getting a Second Opinion

What Other Tests Can Tell You
Understanding Lymph Nodes
Must-Know Definitions
More Resources

Share |