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“Should I see a specialist?” Asking the right questions after receiving a cancer diagnosis

MILWAUKEE -- A cancer diagnosis can change a life forever. Trying to figure out where to get good treatment and what type of doctor you need can be overwhelming. Dr. Amanda Kong with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin joins FOX6 WakeUp to help us make sure we're asking the right questions. Her research interests include effects of different breast cancer treatments on patient quality of life, hereditary breast cancer, sentinel lymph node biopsy and disparities in breast cancer care.

What questions should someone ask after finding out they have cancer?

1. First, “Should I see a specialist? “
In the world of cancer doctors, or oncologists, there are generalists who treat different types of cancers, and there are specialists who treat a particular type of cancer.

Cancer treatment is constantly evolving. When doctors are focused on one particular cancer or group of cancers, they stay current on the latest research and clinical trials, treatments, technologies and techniques. This focus is important because each type of cancer has its own nuances and complexities.

2. Another question to ask is “Who will be involved in my treatment?”
The team typically includes specialists in surgical oncology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, diagnostic radiology, interventional radiology and pathology, as well as other vital clinical staff such as specialized oncology nurses, geneticists and dietitians.

Personalized treatment, or precision medicine, specifically targets an individual’s cancer and is one of the newest approaches to cancer care. With precision medicine, physicians look at not just the type of cancer a person has, but also the person’s unique cell characteristics that drive cancer growth. The

3.  “Will I have the option to participate in research or clinical trials if I want?”
Research through clinical trials can give patients access to treatments that are on the forefront of medicine.

My research interests include effects of different breast cancer treatments on patient quality of life, hereditary breast cancer, sentinel lymph node biopsy and disparities in breast cancer care.

At any given time there are 150 clinical trials underway at Foredtert & MCW aimed at developing tomorrow’s clinical advancements in cancer.

4.  Should I see a second opinion?
Seeking a second opinion is your choice as a patient. Your doctor won’t be offended if you choose to seek one.

A second opinion will confirm your diagnosis, and help you choose the best course of action for you.