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What to Ask Your Doctor After Receiving a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can be extremely difficult, but asking the right questions might put you at ease about your treatment options and next steps.

What to Ask Your Doctor After Receiving a Breast Cancer Diagnosis provides a helpful list of questions to ask your physician:

Is My Cancer Invasive or Noninvasive?

Invasive breast tumors are tumors that have started growing into nearby healthy breast tissue. Noninvasive breast tumors are confined to the milk ducts. A noninvasive tumor is considered the earliest stage of breast cancer, and when caught this early, has the best chance of being cured.

What Stage is My Cancer?

Stages of a cancer refer to its size and extend of spread in the body. Cancer confined to the breast may be called localized cancer, while cancer that has spread to other organs can be called metastatic cancer. When cancer is labeled as a certain stage, it is denoted by a Roman number (I, II, III or IV). The higher the Roman numeral, the more the cancer has spread within the body.

What Grade is My Cancer?

Asking your doctor about the grade of your tumor is asking how healthy the cells look under a microscope. The more different the tumor cells look from healthy cells, the higher the grade and the more quickly the cancer is likely to spread.

What is My Hormone Receptor Status?

Tumors retain estrogen via structures on tumor cell surfaces called estrogen and progesterone receptors. Tumors that have many of these receptors on their surfaces are called estrogen- or progesterone-receptor positive. These tumors are often successfully treated with anti-hormonal therapy.

What is My HER2/new Status?

HER2/new is a substance that is overproduced in about 25% of all breast cancer cases. Tumors that overproduce HER2/new are called HER2 positive and may respond to treatment with drugs like traztuzumab, which target HER2/neu.

How Likely Is My Cancer to Spread or Come Back?

Doctors will likely look at tumor features such as size, stage and grade, as well as hormone receptor and HER2/neu status in order to determine how likely the cancer is to spread or return. There are also new tests that can estimate the risk of recurrence for those with early-stage breast cancer. These tests are performed on samples of tumor tissue removed during surgery. The tests will analyze the activity of various genes to predict how the tumor will behave, which will tell the doctor how likely it is to come back or spread. This test is called ONCOType XY.

What Do You Recommend as My Treatment Plan?

Your treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone blockers or targeted treatments. Your options will depend on what your doctor has learned about your tumor.

What are the Side Effects of Treatment?

Side effects from medication can make coping with the cancer extremely difficult. A key to managing side effects is to be aware of the possiblities and communicate with your healthcare team when they arise. Your team can help prevent and reduce side effects of breast cancer treatment.

Breast Cancer Services at Community Care:

Community Care Physicians offers comprehensive cancer care, including diagnosis, treatment, and after treatment care. We have services across the area and offer a private, comfortable, non-hospital setting.


At Community Care Physicians, the Breast Center at ImageCare  is one of the Capital Region's few full service breast centers providing the latest in breast cancer screening and diagnosis. With locations in Latham and Saratoga Springs, we are convenient to the Albany, NY area. An accredited facility of the American College of Radiology (ACR), The Breast Center of ImageCare provides state-of-the-art technology paired with excellent patient care to serve women's breast health needs. You'll come to know our staff and trusted physicians throughout your visits with us, so you can feel confident you are in good, and familiar, hands.  


Upstate Hematology and Oncology offers a complete range of services related to adult oncologic (cancer) and hematologic (blood) disorders. Our office includes a CLIA certified laboratory, chemotherapy suite, on-site pharmacy dispensing program, and an array of complimentary and supportive services. Our physicians have over 50 years of combined experience and have actively participated in cutting-edge clinical research into the causes, treatment and prevention of cancer.

Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) offers patients different radiation treatment options for patients with breast cancer. The physicians of Image Guided Radiation Therapy, who have more than 27 years pioneering dynamic targeting cancer treatments, will review your case and determine whether you would benefit from traditional radiation therapy or prone breast treatment. IGRT is the first and only group in the area to offer prone breast radiation therapy for patients. This treatment may benefit patients with a large amount of breast tissue, as it spares the lung and hearts during treatment.

After Treatment:

Upstate Hematology and Oncology in collaboration with the Schenectady Cancer Foundation sponsors the Fabulous You program once each month at our office. The program provides cancer patients from the Capital District an evening of make-up, wigs, skin care and fellowship. Licensed cosmetologists from the area donate their time to provide these patients with a “make over”, the opportunity to discover their own “Fabulous You”.



After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis: Questions to Ask Your Doctor

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