Breast cancer

If you’re affected by early or locally advanced breast cancer, you may have many questions about how it is diagnosed, treatment options, side effects and how to stay well. You can find trustworthy information about all aspects of your experience below.

Understanding Breast Cancer
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Diagnosis

  • What type of breast cancer do I have?
  • Has the cancer spread? If so, where has it spread? How fast is it growing?
  • Are the latest tests and treatments for this cancer available in this hospital?
  • Will a multidisciplinary team be involved in my care? Will I see a breast care nurse?
  • Are there clinical guidelines for this type of cancer?

Treatment

  • What treatment do you recommend? What is the aim of the treatment?
  • Are there other treatment choices for me? If not, why not?
  • If I don’t have the treatment, what should I expect?
  • How long do I have to make a decision?
  • I’m thinking of getting a second opinion. Can you recommend anyone?
  • How long will treatment take? Will I have to stay in hospital?
  • How much will treatment cost? Are there any out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Medicare or my private health cover? Can the cost be reduced if I can’t afford it?
  • How will we know if the treatment is working?
  • Are there any clinical trials or research studies I could join?

Side effects and after treatment

  • What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment? How will they be managed?
  • Can I work, drive and do my normal activities while having treatment?
  • Will the treatment affect my sex life and fertility?
  • Should I change my diet or physical activity during or after treatment?
  • Are there any complementary therapies that might help me?
  • How often will I need check-ups after treatment?
  • If the cancer returns, how will I know? What treatments could I have?

This section covers early and locally advanced breast cancer. If you’re affected by advanced breast cancer, see our general information on advanced cancer, call Cancer Council 13 11 20, or visit Breast Cancer Network Australia or Cancer Australia.

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