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Life, Teachings and Recipes

Questions to ask your Surgeon

October 6, 2017



  • Will you do a sentinel node biopsy? During surgery?

  • Will I need to have more lymph nodes removed? How will that decision be made?

  • If my sentinel lymph nodes are positive, will I need an axillary dissection?

  • Can I have a lumpectomy (breast-conserving surgery) plus radiation therapy?

  • Will chemotherapy, targeted therapy and/or hormone therapy before surgery improve my chances of being able to have a lumpectomy?

  • With my family history, is a lumpectomy a good choice, or do I have a high risk of developing another cancer in the remaining breast tissue or the other breast?

  • If I have a lumpectomy, when will I meet with a radiation oncologist to discuss radiation therapy?

  • Do you have experience with skin and nipple sparing mastectomies? How many have you done last year? Am I a good case for that?

  • How long will I be in the hospital?

  • Will I need someone to help me when I return home from the hospital?

  • How should I expect to feel after the surgery?

  • What limits will I have on my normal activities?

  • Where will the surgical scar(s) be?

  • Will I have any numbness after the surgery?

  • Will I have a surgical drain in place when I go home? If so, how will I care for it? When will it be removed?

  • What side effects might I expect after surgery? What problems should I report to you right away?

  • How does the removal of lymph nodes affect my chances of getting lymphedema?

  • What are the long-term risks of problems or side effects from surgery?

  • When should I return for follow-up?

  • Who will discuss the findings of my final pathology report with me? Can I get a copy of the report for my records?

  • How long after surgery will I begin the other treatment(s)? Who will coordinate my care?

  • How does my surgery (lumpectomy or mastectomy) affect my risk of having a breast cancer recurrence, metastasis or a new breast cancer? Please explain the differences to me.

  • What is the rate for corrective, secondary surgeries after both lumpectomy and mastectomy?

  • If I decide for lumpectomy and radiation, then have a local recurrence and decide for a mastectomy, will the previous radiation pose a problem for the surgery?

  • Tell me about breast reconstruction. If I decide I want reconstruction, when can I have it (at the same time as the mastectomy or at a later date)? What are the risks? What about prosthesis options? Who else should I see to discuss and plan for reconstruction or prosthesis? Do you have a plastic surgeon you like to work with?

  • What do I need to consider before treatment begins if I would like to have a child after I have been treated for breast cancer?

  • Will my tumor be saved? Where will it be stored? For how long? How can it be accessed in the future?

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Holistic Health Coach for Survivors and Thrivers