You have heard a lot about breast cancer. You have seen all of the fundraising events come the month of October. You have heard about friends that were affected by loved ones with breast cancer. You are aware that it is out there, but you never thought that it could happen to you. You were diligent about keeping up with your monthly self exams and annual physical exams. Yet, one of those routine exams turned out to be something. Now what? How do you handle your breast cancer and how can you get through this scary process?
Get a referral to a breast cancer specialist immediately
The earlier that you find the breast cancer, the better. Do not wait to seek treatment. Get a referral to a breast cancer specialist immediately. They will send you for a series of diagnostic images to see how bad it is. They will also be an important part of guiding you on your breast cancer treatment. You can usually get a referral from your primary physician or by working with your insurance provider.
Consider your treatment options
Initially, you will likely be offered a couple of different treatment options. Each treatment option has its own advantages and disadvantages. Your breast cancer specialist will walk you through these treatment options. One of the newest types of treatments that is quickly gaining attention is cancer proton therapy. While many of the traditional breast cancer treatments do have good results, they often come with many negative side effects. Proton therapy is a type of radiation that stops at a very specific point in the targeted tissue. Conventional radiation continues beyond the tumor. In breast cancer specifically, this means on average, no radiation to the heart and on average 50% less radiation to the lung when compared to conventional radiation.
Be involved in your treatment
Because breast cancer and treatment procedures can be overwhelming, many patients tend to take a back seat to their treatment. They listen to what their physician tells them and they show up for their breast cancer care appointments. Instead of simply showing up to your breast cancer specialist appointments, get involved in your treatment. Ask questions. Do your own research. Keep track of your side effects and see if there is a better treatment out there for you. Also, keep a healthy lifestyle while you are going through treatment. Although there is no breast cancer cure, you can improve your eating and exercise habits to support a healthy treatment process.
Being involved in your treatment also means keeping up with the latest information about treatments. For example, if you choose to go with proton radiation therapy, make sure you understand what it is and how it affects your body. Proton therapy can reduce gastrointestinal problems by at least 59% when viewed in Xrays. Proton therapy is just one of the treatment options that are you are likely to see more of in the future. At the beginning of 2015, more than 30 particle therapy centers, with a total of 80 treatment rooms, were under construction worldwide. The fact that proton therapy produces fewer side effects means it will be around for many years to come.
No one wants to hear that they have breast cancer. But, if you do, it is important to seek the best treatment. Find a good breast cancer specialist. Get involved in your treatment plan. Research the latest treatments, including proton therapy. Develop a healthy lifestyle to complement your treatment choices. You can get through this with the right breast cancer specialist.