A breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, your mind racing with questions about treatment options. You are not alone in your feelings, fears or questions. One in eight women in the United States is expected to develop breast cancer at some point in her life, and there are currently more than 3 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.
Educating yourself on what you can expect moving forward can help you cope with your diagnosis. Dr. Christine Fisher and her team, which includes patient care coordinators who are breast cancer survivors themselves, are committed to providing support and education to women who have been diagnosed with the disease. You can take an active role in your breast cancer care by learning about your cancer and its treatment, as well as your reconstruction options. We encourage you to ask questions and express concerns throughout your treatment. Knowledge of the process can not only provide reassurance during a stressful time, but it can also improve healing and patient satisfaction.
Understanding Your Breast Cancer Diagnosis
In the aftermath of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, you may be inundated with unfamiliar terms and daunted by the wealth of information coming your way. Your first step is to get the facts: Learn all you possibly can about the specifics of your cancer, including the type of breast cancer, the grade of cancer and the stage of cancer. The grade describes how abnormal the cancer cells are when compared to normal cells. This assessment is an indicator of how quickly the tumor is likely to spread. Breast cancer stages refer to how far cancer has spread through the breast and, potentially, other organs of your body. You may be diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer, stage 2 breast cancer, stage 3 breast cancer or stage 4 breast cancer. The grade and stage of your breast cancer will help your medical team develop a recommended treatment plan.
Understanding Your Breast Cancer Treatment Options
There are a variety of options in treating breast cancer. Treatments that focus on the cancer itself are called local procedures; these include surgery and radiation. Procedures that affect the whole body are called systemic therapies; these include chemotherapy and hormone treatments. You may also be a candidate for participating in a clinical trial. Your cancer care team will evaluate your situation and make recommendations for your treatment. The treatment plan that’s best for you will ultimately depend on many factors including your age, your cancer type, its stage and your personal preferences.
Understanding Your Breast Reconstruction Options
Nearly all women are candidates for some form of breast reconstruction, and the initial stage of a breast reconstruction can typically be done at the same time as the cancer surgery. If you are considering reconstructive breast surgery, there are decisions to be made about the type of reconstruction and the timing of the procedure. Dr. Fisher offers both traditional implant techniques and advanced breast reconstruction techniques that use your own living tissue to rebuild the breast. Breast reconstruction may be completed at the same time as a lumpectomy or mastectomy, or as a delayed surgery that can be scheduled months or even years later. Dr. Fisher works carefully with each reconstructive breast surgery patient to ensure she understands all available options and possible outcomes before any final decisions are made.
Understanding Breast Reconstruction Financing Breast reconstruction procedures are included in your health insurance coverage, regardless of whether you undergo reconstructive surgery at the time of mastectomy or lumpectomy or years later. This coverage includes additional procedures that may be needed in the future to improve or refine your results, often referred to as “reconstruction revision” procedures. You will still need to cover your deductible and co-pays, as dictated by your individual insurance plan. Breast reconstruction costs vary widely depending on the patient’s specific needs and preferences. Be sure to consider your insurance coverage and the actual out-of-pocket cost of your surgery when deciding what type of reconstruction is right for you.
Building A Comprehensive Support System
From breast cancer diagnosis through breast reconstruction recovery, your doctors will play a crucial role in your cancer journey. It’s essential to select a medical team that is knowledgeable, trustworthy, compassionate and experienced. Choose doctors who listen to your concerns, who readily answer your questions and who make every effort to ensure you understand your treatment. You should feel comfortable working with every professional who contributes to your care and have confidence in their abilities as part of your treatment team.
In addition to your medical team, it’s invaluable to have an emotional support system of friends, family members, colleagues, cancer survivors or other women currently undergoing breast cancer treatment. This network can be an indispensable source of comfort, companionship, guidance and encouragement as you navigate your cancer treatment.
Breast Reconstruction in Austin, TX
Whether you’ve just received a breast cancer diagnosis or you’re currently undergoing breast cancer treatment, planning for the future is healthy and encouraged. It’s never too early to make plans for your recovery or too late to consider reconstructive surgery. Dr. Christine Fisher is a board-certified plastic surgeon specializing in breast reconstruction techniques for breast cancer patients in Austin, TX. Our practice is committed to empowering women with education as well as exceptional medical care. To learn more about your breast reconstruction options, call 512-815-0123 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Fisher.
Christine Fisher MD