Making Breast Cancer Treatment Decisions

Patients with breast cancer often have a lot of decisions to make after they’re diagnosed. Though physicians usually choose the exact treatments they will receive, other questions and issues are left up to the patient’s discretion. Some of them are listed here.

If you are struggling with any of these decisions, keep in mind that your physicians and Siteman care team are always available to provide guidance. You can also make a free appointment with a cancer psychologist if you would like to talk through these or other questions with a professional.

Should I participate in clinical studies?

At any given time, Siteman Cancer Center has more than 350 clinical studies in progress. Breast cancer patients who come to Siteman have access to novel or more advanced treatments than you could get in a community hospital. If your doctor feels a clinical study is appropriate, he or she may suggest it. You can review the clinical studies for breast cancer currently in progress.

Should I undergo breast reconstruction after surgery?

Many patients opt to have reconstructive procedures after surgery for breast cancer. For many patients, reconstruction can be done during the same procedure as the breast cancer surgery, with your surgeon and the reconstructive surgeon working as a team. Explore reconstructive surgery options at Siteman.

Do I need to take steps to ensure my fertility?

Some treatments for breast cancer may cause infertility in women of child-bearing age. Be sure to speak to your care team about your concerns. If you wish to have children after going through breast cancer treatment, Siteman’s team of fertility preservation specialists can help you realize your hopes for your family.

What is palliative care, and do I need it?

Many patients are reluctant to ask for palliative care. They believe that it means giving up on a cure or remission and preparing for death. But the real goal of palliative care is to help you manage your symptoms and treatment side effects so you can have a higher quality of life during treatment and enjoy time with your family and friends. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be paired with curative treatment.

Palliative care is provided by a specially-trained team of doctors, nurse practitioners, social workers, and chaplains, who work together with the patient’s surgical, radiation or medical oncologists. The palliative physician makes recommendations on extended pain management and any other support the patient or family needs. He or she will offer suggestions about integrating the family’s lifestyle and spiritual beliefs into the care plan.