Steps to take when you receive a breast cancer diagnosis

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As the most common cancer for women, breast cancer affects many individuals. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.1 While the statistics can be alarming, there is reason to be optimistic if you’re diagnosed with breast cancer. Both early detection and treatment options continue to improve, and death rates have been declining. In fact, the cure rate can be as high as 90 percent.1

Look into different breast cancer treatment options

Breast cancer treatments are continually improving and advancing. With the guidance of your physician, learn about options that are a good fit for your subtype of breast cancer. Different types of cancer behave differently, and some may respond to different treatments better than others. “Most breast cancers across all age groups are being driven, and fueled, and fed by hormones,” says Dr. Elisa Port, Chief of Breast Surgery at Mount Sinai and Co-Director of the Dubin Breast Center. Dr. Port explains that another type of breast cancer is HER2 positive, and is characterized by an amplified level of HER2 protein. The kind of tumor you have will greatly impact the type of treatment that will fit you best.

Prepare financially

In 2018, cancer patients in the U.S. spent $5.6 billion on out-of-pocket costs.2 Even though the Affordable Care Act mandates that insurance providers pay the majority of costs associated with cancer treatment, it’s possible to face extremely high bills. Review your health insurance policy to make sure you know what will be covered, and talk to your doctor about how much your specific treatments will cost. If you’ve opted into supplemental health insurance policies at work, like cancer insurance or critical illness insurance, make sure you understand how to make a claim. These policies will pay you directly to help offset the price of treatment and other things you may need to start paying for, like child care. If you don’t think you can afford treatment, your oncologist can refer you to organizations to help.

Take care of your mental health

Understandably, receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can impact your emotional well-being and lead to conditions like anxiety and depression. Depression and anxiety can affect your sleep and your appetite, things paramount to recovery.3 If you’re a newly diagnosed patient and you’re overwhelmed by your diagnosis and facing any mental health symptoms, talk to your doctor. Mental health professionals can help you cope with the changes you’re facing.

Ask your doctor about new developments

Breast cancer research and treatments are continuing to advance. It’s likely you’ll benefit from existing targeted treatments that are less invasive. “I love the idea that we are able to continue increasing the cure rate by doing less,” says Dr. Port. “So taking out fewer nodes, offering women lumpectomies, less risk, less recovery, less disfigurement, and less aggressive treatment.” As you consider your treatment options, consider asking your doctor if there are new developments you may benefit from to treat cancer, or if you’d be a good fit for any clinical trials.

A breast cancer diagnosis can be scary, but you can make sure you’re prepared and equipped with the information that can help make your fight against cancer easier. Begin your breast cancer journey by learning about advances and the treatments that are the best fit, and make sure to take care of your mental health.

Watch our webinar featuring Dr. Port to learn more about early detection and preventive care.


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