Breast Cancer Treatment
Clinical TrialsBefore starting treatment for breast cancer, patients may want to think about taking part in a breast cancer clinical trial. A treatment clinical trial is a breast cancer research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with breast cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment for breast cancer is better than the standard treatment, the new breast cancer treatment may become the standard treatment. For example, researchers are currently testing high-dose chemotherapy to find out if it is better than standard chemotherapy. They are trying to learn if higher doses of drugs can prevent or delay the spread or return of breast cancer better than standard doses of drugs, as well as which type of breast cancer treatment helps patients live longer (see High-Dose Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer).
Follow-up CareFollow-up care after treatment for breast cancer is important. Even when there are no longer any signs of cancer, the disease sometimes returns because undetected cancer cells remain somewhere in the body after breast cancer treatment.
During follow-up for breast cancer treatment, your doctor will monitor recovery and check for recurrence of the cancer. Checkups help ensure that any changes in your health are noted and treated if needed. Between scheduled visits, you should contact the doctor if you have any health problems.
There are many treatments for breast cancer, depending on a number of important factors, such as the stage and type of breast cancer. Remember, there is no single breast cancer treatment that is "right" for all women. New treatments are available today that were not even imagined a few years ago, and medical researchers continue to find better ways to treat breast cancer.
You can always ask more than one doctor about your diagnosis and breast cancer treatment plan. Your doctor can help you arrange an appointment with another specialist. Many health insurance companies pay for second -- and even third -- opinions.
As you go through treatment, you may find it helpful to write out questions before you meet with your doctors. Some questions are suggested in another article (see Breast Cancer Questions). You may want to make an audiotape recording of your discussions with your doctors. Consider asking a family member or close friend to go to your appointments with you and take notes for you.
Most important, you should never be afraid to ask questions or to ask people to repeat information or instructions. There are no "dumb" questions when you are faced with cancer. When you know what to expect, you will feel more in control of your life.