I Have Breast Cancer… Now What?

September 20, 2010

How to Get Answers to the Most Important Medical and Health Questions

An estimated 207,090 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone, according to the American Cancer Society. While a diagnosis undoubtedly creates a frightening experience for any family, the more that information is available about the disease, the less upsetting it can be. Naturally, patients will look beyond what is provided by their attending physician, but where can they go when they have specific health questions? One of the many doctors on JustAnswer can serve as a secondary resource for patients and their families looking to ease anxieties and get the answers to their breast cancer and medical questions. What’s more is that doctors and breast cancer specialists are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and responses to questions are usually provided within minutes.


Below are just a few pressing questions that many patients and families facing breast cancer want to ask a health care professional. A sampling of doctors on JustAnswer who have experience answering these important questions include Dr. David Cho, a radiation oncologist and cancer expert who discusses what tests might be needed; Dr. Mary Claire Haver, an OB/GYN who can address the post-diagnosis sex life; and psychologist Dr. Sybil Keane who can share her insights into some best ways to break the news to the kids.


Q: Does removing the entire breast give me a better chance at surviving than having a lumpectomy with radiation therapy?


A: In 1985, a randomized trial showed that women who had mastectomies lived just as long as women who had lumpectomies. This study has been repeated and proven again and again.  So today, for many breast cancers patients, women have the choice of a mastectomy or lumpectomy plus radiation without having to sacrifice their chances of living.


Q: I’ve heard of the “Oncotype” test. Do I need to have it?


A: For certain women with intermediate breast cancers where it’s unsure if they will benefit from additional chemotherapy, there is a breast cancer genetic test called Oncotype which profiles the cancer's genes and predicts cancer spread.  If Oncotype results show low recurrence, then chemotherapy is not recommended. 


Q: Will I be able to maintain a normal sex life?


A: Absolutely. Though treated breasts may be tender from radiation, this is a temporary change and the breast returns close to normal after treatments. If sex is desired, it is encouraged. Targeted radiation in breast cancer will not affect the pelvic organs, so not only can women have a normal sex life, but if treatments are successful, women can still have children.


Q: How do I break the news to my children?


A: Typically, the best way is to keep it simple and honest. Tell them you will answer any questions to the best of your knowledge. “I just found out I have breast cancer and here is the plan.” Keep it simple and use words like “treatment” or “medicine” versus “chemotherapy.” You can add more information as you go through each process.


For answers to any additional questions about breast cancer – or any other important matters– get a response to your health questions within minutes when you ask a doctor on JustAnswer.


About JustAnswer
JustAnswer® is a website where people go when they want an answer from a Doctor, Lawyer, Mechanic or one of thousands of third-party verified Experts one-on-one.  Millions with questions come to the site for affordable and fast answers in more than 150 categories, ranging from Medical to Legal. Experts typically respond to questions within minutes.  For more information about the company, please visit the top 200-ranked JustAnswer website.