When your breast biopsy
results in a diagnosis of cancer, you may want to ask a lot of questions. Knowing the answers to the questions will help you make good treatment decisions. Here is a list of questions to ask after a breast biopsy. You may want to print this out and bring it the next time you see your doctor.
is an important part of staging
breast cancer, and it affects your treatment decisions. Breast imaging allows for an estimation of tumor size, but the final measurements will be determined by a pathologist after the tumor is removed surgically.
3. Is there only one tumor?
is often the first test that shows an abnormality in one breast. Before treatment for breast cancer begins, both breasts should be carefully imaged to ensure that the diagnosis and plan for treatment is appropriate and comprehensive. Sometimes a breast MRI
will be done to get a different kind of image of the breasts, which can sometimes find abnormalities missed on a mammogram.
Tumor grade is a measure of how aggressive the cancer cells are behaving. A pathologist will examine the cancer cells for several characteristics, and give the tumor a grade of 1, 2, or 3.
If your cancer is high-grade, it may be given a Ki-67 tumor marker
test. Your score on this test helps predict the way your tumor will respond to chemotherapy, and what your chances of recurrence after treatment may be.
Most breast cancers are driven by estrogen
, progesterone, or both of those hormones. Understanding the test results is important, because this information affects your treatment as well as your follow-up care. If your hormone tests come back negative, you may have triple negative breast cancer
, for which new treatments are being developed.
Her2 is a protein that sends control signals to your cells, telling them to grow, divide, and make repairs. If your cancer makes too much HER2, you may need to add Herceptin
to your treatments to target the HER2 receptors on the cancer cells.
Surgery will be done to remove as much of the cancer as possible. Discuss with your doctor whether you can have breast-conserving
surgery or a mastectomy
. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have a family history of breast cancer, as that may affect your choices.
In some cases, chemotherapy may be given before surgery to shrink the tumor. That might make the difference between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy.
Some tests may determine which treatments will most effectively kill your cancer and prevent recurrence. Other tests may be needed to check on the health of your major organs and bones.