Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer face many challenges and often fear radical surgery and the potential loss of the breast. Many will want to rush in to treatment. It is important to emphasize here that the treatment of breast cancer is urgent but not an emergency.
For the treating surgeon it is equally important to gather all the relevant information. A full assessment by examination and history, and appropriate imaging and biopsy tests, must be completed before initiating any treatment. All patients should be discussed in a multidisciplinary team to individualize care and establish a full treatment plan.
In preparation for a visit to a breast surgeon you should bring along all test results you may have. These include the biopsy result and breast imaging. You should bring a disc of the mammogram with you whenever possible as the surgeon will need to review this to plan surgery.
The type of surgery that may be recommended depends on various factors which include the extent, location and stage of the cancer, the tumour biology (type and behaviour of the cancer) and patient preferences.
Not all breast cancers require surgery as the first treatment option and hasty decisions can compromise the outcome from an oncological point of view and can affect the psychological well-being of the patient.
There is always more than one option available and all patients should be well informed and have time to consider them.