There are different types of breast cancers, and the best course of treatment will depend on the type and stage of cancer, as well as your overall health and tolerance for various treatments.
Cancer treatment is evolving at an even faster rate than breast diagnostic and screening technologies, and it pays to do your own research. There are also many different treatment philosophies among oncology providers.
Just like in any profession, there are leading experts and there are followers. The unfortunate truth is that your choice of oncology professional could make a difference in your length of survival, quality of life or both.
Breast cancer advocacy groups like Susan G. Komen advise breast cancer patients to consult various sources when choosing an oncology provider. These can include factors such as specialization within breast cancer, objective third-party rating services, malpractice records, referrals from trusted physicians, the doctor’s access to clinical trials and more. Some oncologists compile their survival statistics based on type of cancer and stage, and will compare it to the national averages. In fact, you may come across one or more oncologists with survival rates for late-stage cancers that far exceed the national average.
What are these doctors doing that so many aren’t? Are they using innovative diagnostics like genomic tumor assessment or new treatments such as molecular therapy? Do they embrace preventive chemo or mastectomy for high risk patients or those at an early stage with aggressive cancers? Or do they take a multidisciplinary approach that includes diet and nutrition—or alternative therapies— in addition to traditional treatments?
A breast cancer diagnosis can be a very scary thing… but the sooner you focus your time and energy on researching the best treatment options for you, the better off and more optimistic you are going to be. Do not be afraid to ask questions again and again if need be, and talk to as many people as you need to before settling on the best course of treatment. This is your life, and with so many doctors competing for your business, you can be as choosy as you wish to be.