Your Breast Cancer Treatment Team
By Michael Russell
Today, the majority of breast cancers are diagnosed by mammography. There cancers are small, often too small to be felt and surgeons usually rely on radiologists to localize these small cancers with a hook wire or some injected dye. The technology has changed drastically and we have entered a new era of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Because of the many elements that come into play in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, coordination is necessary among the team of physicians: surgeon, radiation oncologist, cancer pathologist, plastic surgeon, radiologist and medical oncologist.
Ideally, a woman with a recent diagnosis of breast cancer communicates with a primary physician who takes charge of developing a treatment plan with her and then coordinates its implementation. These team members can work at a single institution or be drawn from a wider geographic distribution and any of the cancer specialists can act as the coordinating physician. Often, it is the medical oncologist who coordinates the flow of information and treatment for the patient, but many surgeons and radiation oncologists take on this pivotal role as well.