There are a lot of thoughts going through your mind after an abnormal mammogram. There’s the possibility of cancer and the question of what treatment is right for you, but it’s a good idea to slow down and take a little time to process everything during those early days. Talking with your doctor about surgery options is vital.
Talking With Your Doctor about Surgery Options
First of all, keep in mind that your abnormal mammogram may not indicate cancer. You will need further testing to establish whether or not you actually have breast cancer and to see how far it has progressed. Second, if it turns out you do have cancer, the process has improved quite a bit over the last decade or so. To get a better sense of what you can expect and what options are best for you, it is important to have a candid conversation with your doctor at Breast Health Institute Houston.
Having the Initial Discussion
When it comes to understanding your options, it is always best to come prepared with a set of questions for your doctor. You’ll want to focus on four primary topics:
- Surgical Options
- Radiation versus Chemotherapy if that is prescribed for you
Here are a few possible questions to get you started if it turns out your abnormal mammogram is the result of cancer.
Is a lumpectomy an option?
A lumpectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the cancerous tissue as well as a layer of healthy tissue to ensure that there is no additional spread. This layer of healthy tissue is called the margin. It is routine for your surgeon to check these margins for cancer before giving the all-clear. This is not a complete mastectomy and allows you to keep much of your breast tissue as well as your nipple. In many cases that means retaining both the shape and sensation of the breast.
Is it possible to have immediate reconstruction?
If you do have to have an entire breast or both breasts removed, then you may be considering immediate reconstruction surgery. For some women, the rapid replacement of their natural breasts is an important part of reducing the trauma of the experience. However, it is not always in the patient’s best interest to do so. If your surgeon is worried about complications, then they may suggest waiting for you to finish treatment.
What is the difference between radiation and chemotherapy? Explain your recommendation.
Radiation therapy is commonly paired with lumpectomies to ensure that all cancerous tissue is eradicated. There a many small areas around the breast, especially in the area of the nipple where it can be difficult to pick out inconsistencies. Chemotherapy is more likely to be prescribed for moderate to severe cases where the cancer has spread beyond the breast(s). For breast cancer patients, the lymph nodes near the armpit are one of the most common areas of spread.
What should I expect in terms of recovery?
Your recovery will depend on a multitude of factors that only your doctor will fully understand. They will have to factor in:
- Tthe stage of your cancer
- Your surgical options
- Your post-op treatment
- And your reconstruction options
Together, these can give you the most realistic idea of what your recovery will be like.
Are there any other resources I should be aware of?
Cancer is a lot. So ask what resources are available to you during the early stages of your treatment. Doing so increases the likelihood that you will receive the aid you will definitely need. Across the country, there are non-profit organizations that provide cooking and cleaning services for women going through breast cancer treatment. There are also counseling services and group therapy sessions available in most areas to help you process the emotional and physical strain. Even if you never end up needing them, it’s always nice to know they’re there.