Choosing Your Team and Second Opinions

Choosing Your Team and Second Opinions

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer, you will have to choose those health care providers who will help you develop your personalized cancer treatment plan. Most patients will meet many specialists as they decide on what treatment is right for them.

Members of a breast cancer treatment team usually include:
  • Breast surgeon
  • Radiation oncologist—a physician who treats cancer with radiation
  • Medical oncologist—a physician who treats cancer with medicine
These physicians often present your case at a conference, called a multidisciplinary tumor board, where the following specialists may also be present:
  • Radiologists—physicians who specialize in imaging such as mammograms, ultrasounds and MRIs
  • Pathologists—physicians who analyze tissue and blood samples to make diagnoses
  • Geneticists
  • Plastic surgeons
  • Nurse navigators—nurses who specialize in helping patients in their treatment experience
  • Physical therapists
  • Dieticians
  • Social workers

Because each cancer is unique, treatment options are also unique. Some cancers can be treated in any of several different, equally effective ways. Some cancers will have one treatment path that is much more effective than the others. Your team will work together to guide you in your decisions.

It is important that you are confident with your cancer team.

The following things should be consider when selecting your team:

  • Communication–Your physicians should understand your concerns and you should understand your options and choice consequences. 
  • Qualifications
    -Are your doctors board certified?
    -Do your doctors have experience in treating breast cancer?

  • Treatment options
    -Do you want to be a part of a clinical trial?
    -Do you want a specialized breast reconstruction?
    -Do you have a very rare medical condition?

  • Your location of treatment

    -Do you want treatment close to home?
    -Do you want treatment close to those who can help you during your treatment, such as your children or other family members?
    -Do you want to go to a major cancer center?

As you begin to choose your cancer team, remember that your regular medical doctor (primary care provider or OB/GYN) can help guide you.


As you begin to meet with the members of your team, you should also keep in mind the following:
  • It is helpful to have a journal or electronic device close at hand to record any questions that come to mind. This will help ensure that you have all your concerns addressed by your physicians.
  • You should keep records of your tests and copies of test results to avoid unnecessary repeat laboratory and imaging tests. You can have the images from these tests copied to a disc so that your physicians can easily view them.
  • If you are not comfortable with your treatment recommendations or providers, you can ask for a second opinion.

You are the center of your team, 

And ultimately, you will be the one who chooses your treatment.

Click Here to find a breast surgeon who is a member of The American Society of Breast Surgeons.