Questions, doctor, I have questions

courage

The conversation between you and your doctor when she tells you that you have breast cancer is life-changing. Sometimes that conversation takes place in person; sometimes it’s over the phone.

For most (not all, but most) patients, decisions on next steps do not need to be made immediately. Breast cancer is often slow-growing with a 5-to-10 year median survival rate following only surgical  intervention.

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Breast cancer treatment: radiation therapy

radiation

Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells that may still exist after surgery. It is a local, targeted treatment.

The goal is to destroy undetectable cancer cells in a localized area, which should reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. Your treatment will be overseen by a radiation oncologist, a cancer doctor who specializes in radiation therapy.

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The pink ribbon and October awareness: a history

pink ribbon

ping ribbonThe pink ribbon started out peach-colored. But its roots lie with the yellow ribbon, which has symbolized support for absent loved ones for more than a century.

In 1973, Tony Orlando and Dawn released “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree.” The Library of Congress traces the cultural ubiquity of the yellow ribbon to that song.

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Choosing mastectomy as breast cancer treatment

mastectomy

Once upon a time – back in Betty Ford days and earlier – a breast cancer diagnosis had one surgical option: mastectomy, the complete removal of the affected breast. There was no choice.

However longevity averages are not improved by mastectomy, single or double, for all but a small percentage of women. Today, breast conserving surgery, a lumpectomy, is usually recommended.

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