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Breast Cancer In Situ: Managing Your Medical Care: Diagnosis To Treatment Decision

Learn How To Maximize Your Limited Time With A Doctor.

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Learn breast cancer basics.

It helps make your limited time with a doctor faster and more precise if you understand the basics of your disease, potential treatments and side effects, and the words that are likely to be used to describe them. See the previous section of this document.
Learn how to communicate with your doctor on an equal footing.

If you think that you are a partner with your doctor you are less likely to feel intimidated even when he or she may be wearing a white coat towering over you while you are lying on an examining table with your butt (or breast) hanging out. A person who feels like a partner will be more likely to bring up all questions and concerns (no matter how embarrassing) and to be open to absorbing information.  

If you run into difficulties working with a doctor, there are techniques for working through them. If it ultimately doesn't work out, you can change doctors. If you take the time to choose a doctor as noted in the next section, it will make the need for a change less likely. (For more information, see the document in “To Learn More.”)

Take a patient advocate with you.

It is helpful to take a trusted person (a "Patient Advocate") with you to important doctor visits to help ask questions and listen. Sometimes emotions can impair our ability to hear everything that is said. Explain to the person what you do or do not want him or her to do. 

If you do not have a friend or family member who can satisfactorily carry out this function, professionals are available for hire. (For more information, see the document in “To Learn More.”)

Prepare ahead of time for each appointment.

  • Write down all of your questions as you think of them. Prioritize them before the meeting. (Survivorship A to Z provides a Prioritizer that lets you keep track of your questions. A push of a button reorders the questions to your priority before the meeting. See "To Learn More.")
  • Start keeping a Symptoms Diary. (Survivorship A to Z provides an easy-to-use diary. With the push of a button, you change symptoms into an easy-to-read chart you can print and take to your appointment. See "To Learn More.")
  • Write a list of all medications to take to every medical appointment. Include over-the-counter drugs, vitamins etc. Keep the list up-to-date.  Survivorship A to Z provides a chart that allows you to store your list and print it whenever you need it..


  • An inexpensive tape or digital recorder so you can record your sessions and replay them later. You may not need such a device if you can record on your smart phone or mobile computing device. (Be sure to get the doctor's consent before recording any session).
  • A fax machine or other inexpensive mechanism which allows you to receive and send reports.

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