Tips for Making Treatment Decisions

Get involved in your care. When your health care team recommends a treatment, make sure you understand why. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand.

Find out more. Ask your doctor where you can get more information about your diagnosis or the treatment he or she is recommending.

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Get a second opinion. To be sure you are aware of all your options, make an appointment with another oncologist to discuss treatment recommendations.

Get the details. Talk with your doctor about what you can expect from your treatment. Some questions you may want to ask include:

  • What is the recommended treatment?
  • How will it be given? Will I need to go to the doctor’s office or hospital to get my treatment, or will I get medication I can take at home?
  • How often will I receive treatment, and for how long?
  • What are the possible benefits and risks of this treatment?
  • How much will my treatment cost?
  • If I have questions during my treatment and my doctor is not available, who can I ask? For example, is there a nurse, social worker, or other specialist available?

Tips for Looking and Feeling Your Best During Treatment

Follow your doctor’s advice. Your medications and other treatments work best when you follow all your doctor’s instructions carefully. Write down all instructions, or ask your doctor or nurse to write them down for you.

Keep a side effect journal. When you experience a side effect, write down the date and time it happens, how strong it is, and how it affects you or your daily activities. Take this journal with you on doctor’s visits to share the information about your symptoms with your health care team.

Get the facts about reconstructive surgery. There are several different kinds of reconstructive surgeries. To find out about your options, speak with a board-certified plastic surgeon. To find out if a plastic surgeon is certified, visit

Learn about other options. If you decide not to have reconstructive surgery, consider a breast prosthesis. This is a form that fits in your bra to make your breasts look natural and balanced. If you expect to lose your hair during treatment, get a wig, scarf or turban beforehand.

Get support. Joining a support group for women with breast cancer gives you a chance to talk with others who understand what you are going through. Talking one-on-one with an oncology social worker gives you a safe place to talk about your concerns. CancerCare offers these services for free.

This article originally appeared on ONA