• I just got the results from my breast biopsy and it's bad news.

    Asked by Gabriella on Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    I just got the results from my breast biopsy and it's bad news.

    I am a bit in shock. Just made an appointment with Doctor Carlin at Cedars. Does anyone know him? What questions should I ask? I appreciate any help :(

    14 Answers from the Community

    14 answers
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar

      I'm not much help. Don't know your dr, & I have uterine, not breast cancer. But I hope yoy'll accept some virtual hugs. I keep a small noebook & take notes during appts. I'll start a list & make sure all myquestions get answered. I've asked about dietery supplements, symtoms,tratment plan,anything I can think of. Good luck!

      almost 6 years ago
    • lynn1950's Avatar

      Of course you are in shock. We hold our breaths for so long waiting for test results; hearing the bad news can just put us in a tailspin. So take a deep breath.

      I am sorry that I am not familiar with Dr. Carlin.

      The Susan G. Komen site has some good "questions to ask your doctor" for various stages of treatment. Go to the site, then click on the "Understanding Breast Cancer" tab and scroll down until you see "Questions to Ask Your Doctor." These are documents you can print out for the different stages of treatment and I found them very helpful. You can print out these PDFs and bring them with you to your visit. Here is the link: http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/QuestionstoAsktheDoctorPDFDownloads.html .

      There is so much information to absorb that it really helps to keep a pen and notebook of questions and information that you bring to doctor visits. Some people bring a tape recorder with them. Many people bring a partner or friend. it really helps to have some back up during visits.

      I hope this helps a bit. Best wishes to you.

      almost 6 years ago
    • ticklingcancer's Avatar

      My first visit with my oncologist is a comeplete and total blur. Yours will probably be as well. Be sure to take someone with you. Looks like Lynn1950 took care of your question concerns. Good luck with your treatment. Keep us posted on your progress.

      almost 6 years ago
    • FreeBird's Avatar
      FreeBird (Best Answer!)

      Oh boy. That's quite a dip into the cold water. You are not alone. You have something going for you, and that is-- the ball has started moving in the right direction now. There may be the opportunity to intervene and do something about it. That could be the good news with the horrible news. Everything is so overwhelming and confusing at the start, I think they need an orientation to prepare people for what to expect.

      Here are some information resources from the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute:

      I think some things are common to most experiences with different cancers, and many other problems:

      1. Your detection that something isn't right. For dad's lung cancer, it was difficulty breathing, and a little cough that wouldn't quit. For his pancreatic/biliary cancer, it was a tumor detected in his liver on a follow-up visit for the lung cancer.
      2. Doctor visit, examination. Doctor detective starts to gather all the data to start that evaluation process. At some point you end up at the specialist to continue the process.
      3. Tests are ordered to see what's going on in there, that can include blood tests, imaging, and biopsy. In my dad's cases, for lung, lymph node, adrenal gland, and liver biopsies, they were done in the hospital, as an outpatient.
      4. When these tests are done, in our experience, the oncologist generally knows what's happening with regard to the blood after the lab sends their lab report. The test for the tumor markers was sent to a lab that made a more complete report on the findings. The images are interpreted by a radiologist who makes a report for the doctor. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/understandingyourdiagnosis/examsandtestdescriptions/imagingradiologytests/imaging-radiology-tests-who-does The biopsy is interpreted by a pathologist, who makes a pathology report for the doctor. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/detection/Fs5_33.pdf These reports have more detailed information, and it's good to ask for a copy of these when you go in to see your doctor-- especially the radiology reports and pathology reports. They have all the million-dollar words on them that can be useful later when you try to remember what Bill Nye the Science Guy just rattled off to you. Supercalifragilisticexpicarcinoma? If you feel confused and lost at first, you are not alone. All of the evidence gathered, and their knowledge and experience narrow down their understanding of the possibilities of what's happening inside your body, until they end up with the most reasonable answer they can reach.
      5. You may have already started reading information to familiarize yourself with some of the possibilities, and the terms. I got the impression from the oncologist that most people they see don't want to know the details, they just want it fixed. I like to know about it, so I can try to be a more effective caregiver.
      6. Doctor visits to go over the results of the tests, and what to do about it.
      7. At this point, when they have made their evaluation based on all that evidence, it's a good time to ask questions and get those copies into your hands. Where are we now? What exactly the heck is going on inside my body? What's the diagnosis? What type of cancer, precisely, do I have? What's the stage, and has it spread anywhere? What are the options for moving forward to fix this problem? Do you deal with similar situations often? What would you recommend to do at this point, if a family member you love was sitting where I am (if they know what's happening at this point)? What can I expect from here on out? How long are we looking at? What, when, and where is the next step? (WHAT NEXT?) If the next step is a doozie, you might want to consider whether you want a second opinion, and take a breather to learn more. There are good questions in those links. You may have questions of your own. Do not be afraid to ask them, or "stand in the doorway" until they are answered. I noticed that people like to run out fast in the medical business. So, have goals for what you want to achieve with each doctor visit, and walk in with a list of your questions ready to go. Bringing someone with you might help. A lot of questions about details of the cancer can be answered by your own research.
      8. You are the commander of your body and your health care. At this point, based on all the evidence available, you have an educated assessment on where you are and what you can do about it. Maybe you have read more about it. You have a decision to make about what to do. Write down your goals for your health. In my opinion, err on the side of optimism. When you know what you want to achieve, or the best possible outcome for which you can aim, you can develop a plan for treatment with your doctor, and come up with the best ways to handle the finances, to hit those targets. Start putting those dates onto the calendar. Write everything down in one location.
      9. Here we go. Time to kick cancer's rear end to what ever extent possible, so you can get back to living normally, or having the best possible outcome under the circumstances. Get the support of the people around you, execute the plan, head down and don't look back. There are people to help you along the way. You can do this. For some people, the outlook is not as good long-term with some cancers. But that doesn't mean goals can't be set, and someone can't move towards the best possible results, for what's right for them. There are good information resources online for what to expect during treatments, when those are determined.
      10. You wonder at some point how you'll know whether you're making any progress. They will measure your progress along the way. You can ask them for your particular cancer how they will determine if it's working, and when you're completed with your treatment.
      11. Worrying and fearing about the possibilities long-term. It's time to take a deep breath, turn down the high beams, turn on the low beams, go on with your life, live for today, and take one day at a time, one small step at a time, with hope for tomorrow. For good or for bad, the future will arrive all by itself whether we worry about it in the mind or not. You are not the first one with cancer. You are not alone in your experiences. And, you are bigger than anything that can possibly happen to the cells and tissues of your body during your life.

      almost 6 years ago
    • Nancebeth's Avatar

      I dont know your doctor, but I do know that hearing that news is very scary and overwhelming. I also know that second and third opinions were very helpful to me. It is hard to make a decision after talking to someone for a few minutes. Make sure your doctor doesn't rush you, listens to you and gives you all of your options. I went into this knowing my options and having already made my decision, however, I still listened to my surgeons opinions. I don't, for one minute, regret my decision to have a bilateral masectomy and immediate reconstruction with implants. I write a blog and talk about my whole journey there. It may be helpful to read it, but understand that it isn't warm and fuzzy, it's the hard truth about what I went through, physically and emotionally.

      almost 6 years ago
    • Harry's Avatar

      I can't tell you about your doctor or your hospital--and certainly nothing about breast cancer--but here are a few things that occur to me.

      Yes, bring a notepad. Write down the answers and get the spelling for any unfamiliar words. The doctor should be able to explain all terms and concepts to you in words you can understand without talking down to you.

      Write down questions that occur to you ahead of time. Things I would ask include:

      Precisely what is the diagnosis--medical terms?

      What can I expect from the cancer both if treated and untreated?

      What treatments are recommended?

      What are the side effects?

      How will those side effects be treated?

      If chemo is recommended, what are the names of the chemicals--spelling?

      How will I know if this is working?

      Other questions will occur to you. At this stage you should have lots of questions and the doctor should answer them. Knowledge is strength.

      Oh, and some mixture of fear, anxiety, and confusion are normal at this stage. I found that focusing on how I was going to fight helped me.

      almost 6 years ago
    • Peroll's Avatar

      All of these are good lists of questions. I would recommend taking someone help listen and ask questions and if possible recording the Drs answers (easier than notes that will distract from listening). I would add the folloing questions:

      What are the alternative treatments that are not being recommended and why? Alternative may be other chemos, radiation (there are actually several forms) etc.

      How often will you get scans to check for tumor reduction,growth or spreading?

      How fast does my type of cancer normally grow? This is important to know to understand how agressive the cancer is and it helps in determiniong if the treatment is doing good or not. If the treament slows the growth then it is helpiing some but not achiving the ultimatre goal of getting rid of it.

      If you are going to have chemo you will want to know the schedule for the regimen and will want to get meds to help with the side effects prescribed and filled before treanment.

      You should also ask about things like cancer support groups, for both you and family members. While you are the one with cancer your whole family will be going through it with you and support may help them help you.

      As others have said we know that feelings of fear and anxiety are normal but you need to be able to control them. If you start feeling overwhelmed or depressed please tell your Dr as soon as possible. These can be treated with meds.

      Good luck with your journey your cancer can be beat.

      almost 6 years ago
    • Thanks4Mayo's Avatar

      It looks like you'll be in excellent hands with Dr. Karlan. Beth is an incredibly well-credentialed oncologist, and heads up the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists. Her education, research and practice record is outstanding. Here's a link to her bio

      Best of luck to you. Like others have said here, keep your chin up, your determination in high gear, your focus on healing, and you'll come through this!


      almost 6 years ago
    • ErinJ's Avatar

      Be sure to bring your questions in writing. Also, I strongly urge you to bring a friend with you, someone who will sit in the back of the room and take notes to review with you later. You are about to be bombarded with information and your mind may get "hung up" on things. My husband and I had a friend that would come to all the appointments and it was amazing how much information she captured that we had missed. I am so grateful to her for being that person for us.

      almost 6 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      En dfSorry that you just became s member of our club. Hugs. Remember to take someone with you to this and all appointments get notebook to write your questions and the answers you get,, get contacts info so you can follow up, I email a lot. Questions you may want to ask. Type, stage of cancer what type of treatment plan is the doctor considering, how soon will treatment start. What if any pre- treatment tests/ scans will be needed. Are you seeing an oncologist, breast surgeon or both. Ask how the doctors feel about getting a second opinion (I highly recommend you do) if they say no find someone else. Good luck, once the shock wears off and things start falling in place it does get relatively easier. The waiting and uncertainty is the worst

      almost 6 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      BTW you can Google the doctor and hospital for more info. Sorry about my typos, I am using my DROID while getting my infusion

      almost 6 years ago
    • CAL's Avatar

      We all react differently and need different things, but universally we are all in shock and overwhelmed especially with learning all there is to know and then making decisions. And that doesn't even address the emotional roller coaster ride.

      I have been pushy, pushy asking a thousand questions. As much as possible, I type up everything on my laptop. I type the questions for my doctors and print them out and sometimes even send them by email a head of time. At appointments, I type directly onto the documents on my computer. When my husband goes with me, he has a hard copy so he can take notes. Even with all this, I miss some things or just can't remember. It's like taking a graduate course without getting any credit for it but the post test is unreal.
      So absolutely do not let anyone rush you and get as complete answers as you need and write everything down. I have a notebook full of just "my breast cancer" stuff, everything from research papers to pathology reports to a timeline of the diagnosis and treatment to a list of all the drugs I got during surgery. I am still working on a second opinion

      almost 6 years ago
    • CAL's Avatar

      Oh, forgot. Look for recent edition of Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book. Even more look for the book, Life Over Cancer, by Dr. Ketih Block, MD

      almost 6 years ago
    • SandiD's Avatar

      I am a survivor from Utah, but I suggest you check out www.breastcancer.org. It is a site I still go to. Remember, Breast Cancer is not the death sentence it was once thought to be! This was my second cancer & there are a lot of us Survivors out here. Good luck to you. Try to bring someone with you to your appointments. They can help you remember what is said.

      almost 6 years ago

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