Breast Cancer Treatment - What You Should Know

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Taking Care of Yourself After Your Breast Cancer Diagnosis
  3. Working With Your Doctor or Health Care Provider
  4. What Are the Stages of Breast Cancer?
  5. Your Treatment Options
  6. Breast Reconstruction
  7. Will Insurance Pay for Surgery?
  8. If You Don't Have Health Insurance
  9. Life After Breast Cancer Treatment
  10. Questions to Ask Your Health Care Team
  11. Breast Cancer Hotlines, Support Groups, and Other Resources
  12. Definitions


You are not alone. There are more than two million breast cancer survivors living in the United States today. Great improvements have been made in breast cancer treatment over the past twenty years. People with breast cancer are living longer and healthier lives than ever before and many new breast cancer treatments have fewer side effects.

The New York State Department of Health developed this booklet for your doctor to help you to understand your treatment options. This booklet is intended to be a guide to help you become a partner with your health care team to make choices about your health and treatment. These tips may make it easier for you to use this booklet:

  • Ask a friend or someone on your health care team to read this booklet along with you. Or have them read it and discuss it with you when you feel ready.
  • It may be helpful to read this booklet in sections rather than all at once. For example, if you have just been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may only want to read sections 1-4 for now. Sections 5-8 may be helpful while you are choosing your treatment options, and Section 9 may be helpful to read as you are finishing treatment.
  • Medical words that you may hear as you go through diagnosis and treatment are written in bold italics throughout this booklet. Definitions of these words are in Section 12 at the end of this booklet. Knowing the meaning of the words that you are hearing can help you understand what is happening and help you make informed choices.
  • As you go through the treatment process, it may be useful to write questions before you meet with your doctor. Suggested questions are written throughout this booklet. If agreeable to the health care team, you may also want to tape record information that is given to you. Consider asking a friend or family member to be with you at your appointments to listen to the information and give you emotional support.
  • Remember, there is no one "right" treatment for every person. New options are available today that were not offered even a few years ago.
  • Most important, never be afraid to have information repeated and to ask questions. There is no such thing as a "dumb" question. Asking questions and seeking information will allow you to make choices that you are comfortable with.


Publication 0401
Rev 11/2010