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Q: My mom was just diagnosed with breast cancer. What are the most important things she needs to know to give her the best chance of fighting this?

Breast cancer will occur in one out of eight women during their lifetimes, and more than 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the United States. Screening and early detection are important, because when breast cancer is caught early, doctors have many more options for treating it, often without having to remove the whole breast. The size of the tumor and stage of the disease will often guide treatment, so your mother's doctor will want to discuss these factors with her, along with whether or not hormonal receptors on the tumor are present.

Treatment will probably include surgery and may or may not involve additional chemotherapy or radiation therapy as well. Your mom's oncologist or cancer surgeon will go over the stage of the disease with her and discuss treatment options and prognosis before starting treatment. One of the most important factors for a good outcome is coordinating care, so your mom should make sure that she and all her different treatment providers (including her surgical oncologist, medical oncologist, and radiation oncologist) are all in close communication.

Derrick J. Beech, MD

Surgical oncology, General surgery

Derrick J. Beech, MD
Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic
85 Maui Lani Parkway
Wailuku, HI 96793