7 Questions to Ask About Your Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Being diagnosed with cancer or any major illness is overwhelming and confusing. You might not know how to start. Here are seven questions to ask your doctor about your diagnosis so you can understand your stage, prognosis and treatment options:
- What type of breast cancer do I have?
Not all breast cancers are the same. Probably the most basic is where the cancer cells originate. Their origin is a factor in whether your cancer may spread and helps decide the kind of treatment you’ll get.
- How big is my tumor?
Tumor size is another feature that will define your course of treatment. The tumor’s dimensions are estimated by a physical exam, mammogram and an ultrasound or MRI of the breast.
- Is the cancer in my lymph nodes?
Whether you have the cancer in your lymph nodes is one of the most important predictors of the severity of your disease. When breast cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes, we tend to discuss more aggressive treatment options such as chemotherapy.
- What is the stage of my cancer?
Staging is an easy way of classifying the severity of a patient’s cancer. A higher stage means a larger tumor and wider distribution of cancer cells. Your doctor uses staging to plan your treatment, estimate your diagnosis and communicate with other cancer specialists.
- What is the grade of my tumor?
Grading is not the same as staging. Even, both are indicators of a cancer’s severity and prognosis, but using different criteria. While staging deals with tumor size, location and cancer cell distribution, grading is based on the cancer cells’ appearance under a microscope. The more abnormal-looking the cells are, the more likely they are to quickly grow and spread. Grades usually run from 1 to 3.
- What is my estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor status?
Your body’s hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, may play a role in how your breast cancer progresses.
- What is my HER2 status?
HER2 (which stands for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) is another type of growth signal receptor, or antenna, which may be present on your breast cancer cells. You can ask and learn the detail from your doctor.