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Our Comprehensive Approach: A Typical Patient Journey

If you have been diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), LCIS (lobular carcinoma in situ), or an invasive breast cancer, you can expect to follow most of these steps.

Graphic: Breast Cancer Patient Journey

  1. Biopsy result shows cancer: A pathologist looks at your biopsy specimen under the microscope and notifies the radiologist or surgeon of the results.
  2. Radiologist or surgeon calls or meets with you to explain your diagnosis: If you have a core biopsy, the diagnostic radiologist who did the biopsy tells you the results. If you have a surgical biopsy, the cancer surgeon who did the biopsy tells you the results. This is done at an appointment or by phone.
  3. Scheduling Coordinator arranges your appointments for intake and consultation with surgeon: The Scheduling Coordinator arranges your appointments for intake (see #4) and consultation with a surgeon (see #5): Your Breast Care Coordinator will contact you about these appointments. Your Breast Care Coordinator will also be able to give you information about what to expect, and answer any questions you have. You may meet with your Breast Care Coordinator in person, or you may speak to her on the phone.
  4. Intake appointment in Center for Shared Decision Making: At this appointment you watch a video about treatment options. We encourage women who have DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) or early stage invasive breast cancer (stages I or II) to watch the Shared Decision Making video that informs them about their diagnosis and their surgery choices. These two videos are called "DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ): Choosing Your Treatment" and "Early Stage Breast Cancer: Choosing Your Surgery."

    You are also shown how to use a touch-screen computer to complete a questionnaire about your physical and emotional well-being and your current health care needs. You will receive a printed report of your answers.

    This appointment lasts approximately:

    2 hrs and 30 min to fill out the questionnaire and watch a video


    30 min to fill out the questionnaire only
  5. Examination and consultation with surgeon: At this appointment you have a chance to get your questions answered and discuss your treatment options.
  6. Examination and consultation with plastic surgeon if considering reconstruction: If you are considering having a mastectomy and/or reconstruction, we encourage you to view a video about choices for breast reconstruction before you see a plastic surgeon. This video is available at the Center for Shared Decision Making and is called "Breast Reconstruction: Is It Right for You?"
  7. Surgery and recovery: Your surgeon and the surgical nurse give you information about your surgery appointment, what to expect at the hospital and what your recovery will be like.
  8. Pathology results determine if more surgery is needed: A pathologist looks at the tissue the surgeon removed to see if there are cancer cells at the edge of the removed breast tissue or in any lymph nodes. In some cases, more surgery may be needed. This is called a "re-excision."
  9. Appointment(s) with medical oncologist and/or radiation oncologist for treatment planning: A staff member will call you to arrange your appointments based on your individual needs. Most women meet with a medical oncologist. All women who have lumpectomies meet with a radiation oncologist, as do some women who have mastectomies.
  10. IF APPLICABLE, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or radiation therapy begins: These appointments are scheduled after you meet with the medical oncologist.
  11. Periodic follow-up by a surgeon or an oncologist and regular mammograms for five years: After you finish initial treatment, you are followed closely by the members of your care team. How often you are seen depends, in part, on your individual situation.
  12. Palliative Care is also available. We are dedicated to ensuring that patients experiencing a life-threatening illness are comfortable and maintain a quality of life during their care. Palliative Care addresses not only physical needs, but also the spiritual and emotional well-being of patients and families.
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