You are the most important part of your healthcare team. Ask questions and ensure that you understand the rationale behind recommended treatments.
You will have a variety of healthcare providers on your team. They may include:
Medical Oncologist: a physician who will work with you to determine your course of treatment. This is the doctor you will see most regularly.
Breast Surgeon: a surgeon who specializes in the breast, including lumpectomy or mastectomy.
Plastic Surgeon: if you consider or choose to have breast reconstruction, you will consult with a plastic surgeon who focuses on restoring breast appearance.
Radiation Oncologist: a doctor who uses radiation therapy to treat patients. Typically your medical oncologist will refer you to a radiation oncologist if radiation therapy is being considered or recommended.
Oncology Nurse: educates about and administers chemotherapy and other cancer-related treatments. He or she will often be your main point of contact at and in between appointments.
Nurse Navigator or Patient Navigator: assists in coordinating care and appointments and may refer you to local resources and support groups.
Oncology Social Worker: helps with the emotional aspects of cancer; assists with day-to-day concerns such as financial needs; provides individual or family counseling and may run support groups; guides patients and helps resolve issues during diagnosis and treatment.
Nurse Practitioner: a highly trained nurse who can perform some of the same functions as a physician, including prescribing medication.
If possible, we recommend seeking treatment at a comprehensive cancer center or large teaching hospital experienced in the unique issues young women face. In many cases, you can get a second opinion from another doctor at one of these centers. Search the National Cancer Institute (NCI) list of designated Cancer Centers to find your nearest center. If it is too far to travel for regular treatment, they will often coordinate care with your local doctors. Ask your healthcare provider or insurance company for more information on travel assistance.
Give your medical team a critical eye—make sure they work well for you. Some important things to consider:
Keep these important points in mind when building a healthcare team that works for you:
Good communication with your healthcare providers is key. Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of your appointments:
Use our Medication Log and Health and Side Effects Diary to track any issues, and share these with your healthcare team. Ask your doctor under what circumstances you should call or go to the emergency room. This information is especially important if you are starting a new treatment or medication. Our Contact Log is a helpful tool for tracking calls and appointments with your doctors.
Remember that you are the most important member of your healthcare team. You are your best advocate. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and reach out for help.