Jane Brattain Breast Center: Frequently asked questions

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Breast Health


General Surgery


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Location Information
Jane Brattain Breast Center
3850 Park Nicollet Blvd.
St. Louis Park, MN 55416


What type of cancer do I have?
There are two main types of breast cancer: ductal and lobular. Your nurse or doctor will discuss your pathology report with you and answer any questions you may have.

May I have a copy of my report?
Yes, your nurse or doctor will give you a copy.

What is the difference between grade and stage?
The stage of your cancer will depend on the size of the cancer and where it is in your body. The stages are 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4. The final stage of your cancer will be determined after your surgery. The grade of a cancer indicates how fast the cancer is growing and how abnormal the cells look under a microscope. A pathologist will determine the grade of your cancer.

How will I know if my cancer has spread?
Your surgeon or your medical oncologist may order tests or scans to look for spread of the cancer to other organs such as your lung, liver or bones. This is usually not needed for early stage cancers.

Will I need chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is often used to treat invasive cancer. Many factors go into this decision such as the stage and grade of the cancer, the age and health of the patient and characteristics of the tumor. This will be determined by your medical oncologist.

What are the side effects of chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. It works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, which grow and divide quickly. However, it can also harm healthy cells which can cause side effects like hair loss, nausea, vomiting, lowered blood counts and others. Your doctors will recommend ways to treat these side effects.

Will I lose my hair?
Most chemotherapy treatments do cause hair loss, which is always temporary. Your clinic will provide you with a list of head covering options.

What are the chances of recurrence of my cancer after surgery?
Your doctors will explain your individual risk of recurrence. You will be followed closely by your medical oncologist and you will have a plan for follow up care.

What are my chances of developing cancer in my other breast?
Having a breast cancer does increase your risk of having a second breast cancer in your lifetime. You can discuss your individual risk with your oncologist or surgeon.

How long will I stay in the hospital following surgery?
You may be admitted and go home the same day if you have lumpectomy surgery, or stay in the hospital one to two nights following a mastectomy. Your hospitalization may be longer following mastectomy with breast reconstruction.

Will I have a surgical drain?
You may have a surgical drain following some surgeries, such as mastectomy and/or removal of lymph nodes under your arm.

Should I stop taking hormone replacement pills or birth control pills?
Some cancers are sensitive to the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Stopping hormonal therapy and birth control pills may be recommended. Be sure to talk to your doctor before you stop any medication and discuss alternative methods of birth control.

Are there any foods or supplements that I should or should not eat?
A healthy diet and regular exercise is important throughout your treatment for breast cancer. If you take any supplements, be sure to discuss them with your doctor. Nutrition counselors and classes are available at the Frauenshuh Cancer Center.

How long will it be before I can return to work after surgery?
Depending on your surgery and the type of work you do, you may be able to return to work within a few days. However, your recovery may take up to several weeks.

Will I be able to have children after treatment?
Fertility may be affected by some treatments. Your medical oncologist will discuss how treatment may affect fertility with you.

Can I choose the doctor who I want to see?
Your nurse specialist will guide you in selecting your doctors.

Will the disease or treatment affect my ability to work or care for my family?
Some patients may experience side effects from treatment which may limit their ability to work or care for their families for a period of time, such as fatigue and pain from surgery. Others are able to continue most of their usual activities.

How many radiation treatments will I have and how long does each one take?
Most radiation treatments are given daily (Monday through Friday) for a period of about six to seven weeks. Each treatment dose is given over a few seconds.

What are the side effects of radiation?
Radiation to the breast is usually very well tolerated by the body. Common short term side effects include skin irritation and fatigue. You will be seen by a radiation oncologist who will discuss other possible side effects.

Are there any risks with breast reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is a detailed process, with many steps to achieve a good result. This may take several weeks or months to complete. You may experience some side effects such as pain or infection, and some activities may be limited during this time. You will be cared for by an experienced plastic surgeon who is a specialist for breast cancer patients and breast reconstruction.

Can I delay my reconstruction until later?
Yes. Most patients begin breast reconstruction at the time of their mastectomy. Others may choose to put off having breast reconstruction until a future date.

Can you refer me to a woman who has gone through these procedures?
It may be helpful for some women to talk to others who have gone through a similar surgery. Let your nurse specialist know if you feel this would be beneficial for you. The American Cancer Society’s “Reach to Recovery” program can also help by matching you with a trained volunteer breast cancer survivor who will talk with you about coping with your breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Will my insurance cover the cost of reconstruction?
Insurance normally does cover surgery for breast cancer as well as breast reconstruction for one or two breasts. It’s important to check with your insurance provider for more detailed information.

Is there a clinical trial for my cancer?
There may be opportunities for you to participate in cancer research at Park Nicollet. Your doctor will determine if you are eligible for a clinical trial.

How much will my cancer treatment cost and how can I find out what my insurance will cover?
It is best to call your insurance provider about specific costs and coverage for cancer treatments.

Do I need a second opinion?
Some patients feel it would be beneficial for them to get a second opinion. Our Health Information Department can help you obtain the your records if needed for a second opinion.