The treatment options available to you depend on a number of factors, including the type of tumor, the extent of the disease at the time of diagnosis, your age, and your medical history. However, your personal feelings about the treatment, your self image, and your lifestyle will also be important considerations in your doctor's assessment and recommendations. You and your doctor should discuss these treatment methods and how they apply to your situation.
Understanding all of your options from the beginning of your diagnosis allows you to have all of the information you need to make an informed and rational decision about your care.
The two-step treatment method involves having a biopsy one day, then if the lump is cancerous, the treatment will begin after discussing treatment options with your surgeon and as soon as the scheduling of your surgeon and operating facilities permits. In many cases, the biopsy can be done on an outpatient basisoften in the doctor's office or mammography suite. Most biopsies can be performed under local anesthesia. Your surgeon will discuss the specific type of biopsy with you.
The short time between biopsy and treatment (which will not reduce the chances for success) allows time to examine the permanent section slides, to perform additional tests to determine the extent of the disease, to discuss treatment options, to gain another medical opinion if desired, to make home and work arrangements, and to prepare emotionally for the treatment.
Once a diagnosis of invasive cancer is made, you may go through a staging process to determine if the tumor has spread to any other organs in the body. This usually includes a chest x-ray, liver function tests, and bone scan. In certain instances your physician may request a PET scan, MRI, or CAT scan. An abnormality in these does not mean the tumor has spread but that further testing is needed.