Questions for your specialist

Before going ahead with breast cancer surgery, there are certain questions you should ask. If in doubt, consider getting a second opinion.

Make sure you fully understand the procedure and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s important your surgeon explains the common risks and benefits, as well as those particular to your circumstances. Knowing all the relevant information is part of informed clinical consent.

Questions for your surgeon

Surgery

  • What type of procedure do you recommend and why?
  • Are there alternatives to this procedure in my case?
  • What other procedures are needed before or with my surgery?
  • What are the risks and side effects associated with this surgery?
  • Will I need additional therapies, if so what?
  • Am I likely to need a blood transfusion?
  • Will there be scars and what will they look like?
  • Will I need breast reconstruction following surgery?
  • What are my choices regarding timing of breast reconstruction?
  • What are the pros and cons of different types of breast reconstruction?
  • Will I need an implant?
  • Can I still breastfeed after surgery and reconstruction?
  • Could breast cancer treatments affect my fertility?

Timing

  • Is this procedure really needed right away or can it wait?
  • What are the likely consequences if I delay it?
  • Should I consider chemotherapy before surgery?

Costs

  • What are the likely out-of-pocket medical expenses? (Your surgeon should be able to give you a breakdown of any costs you’ll incur – this is known as ‘Informed Financial Consent’)

Other costs

  • Will there be additional fees for an assistant surgeon, physiotherapist, plastic surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, breast care nurse and pathologist? If so, what will they be?

Anaesthetist

  • Will I have a choice of anaesthetist?
  • Will I be able to meet with my anaesthetist before the day of surgery?
  • Will there be an additional fee for the anaesthetist? If so, what will it be?

Preparation

  • How should I prepare for my procedure?
  • In case I need a blood transfusion, can I donate my own blood several weeks before the surgery?
  • Should my family or I have genetic testing?

Procedure

  • What happens during and after the procedure?
  • Is there anything I can do to improve the outcome?

Surgeon’s skills

  • How many breast surgeries do you perform each year?
  • What percentage of patients are satisfied with the results of the breast surgeries you perform?
  • What’s your complication rate for my procedure?

Recovery

  • How long will I be in hospital?
  • How do I access a breast care nurse?
  • How soon can I go back to work, exercise or travel?
  • Follow-up appointments (Write down any questions or concerns you want to discuss with your surgeon).

Tell your surgeon if you have any skin lesions, sores, cuts, or a raised temperature, as they’ll need to be treated before your procedure.

You can take most medication as usual, but some may interfere with your procedure. Your surgeon will let you know which medication (if any) you should stop, and when to stop taking it.

Don’t forget to mention any complementary or herbal remedies you’re taking, as these can have interactions and side effects too.


Print this page to take to your appointment with your surgeon.

Preparing for your procedure

Tests before your breast cancer surgery.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.