Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) is not one disease. You need to know and understand what kind of metastatic breast cancer you have so you know what treatments are appropriate. Your pathology report is generally the starting point for treatment decisions.
A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer is complex and frightening. But, you CAN get the excellent care you deserve. Here are some step-by-step tips for taking charge of your treatment.
If your disease progresses after treatment, sometimes it is helpful to get a second opinion. Some patients also seek a second opinion when they are first diagnosed.
A doctor giving a second opinion will start by reviewing your treatment records, especially your pathology report. When you see the doctor, he or she will ask you to tell your treatment story in your own words. How were you diagnosed? What have you done to date? How are you doing? After talking to you, the doctor will conduct an exam. At the end of the appointment, the doctor will give you his or her thoughts on your diagnosis or treatment options. Ask the doctor to provide a written summary of the second opinion—this will help you communicate with your current doctor.
Every treatment has potential good and bad effects (toxicities). It’s important to know what your quality of life will be. Will the treatment mean changes for your family and work life? Can you continue your regular daily activities?
If you do not trust your healthcare provider, chances are you will not do as well as someone who does. It can be upsetting to make any kind of change to your routine, but you are worth it!
MBCN has compiled the following suggestions from people living with metastatic breast cancer: