Breast Cancer: Why See a Specialist?

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Woman patient with doctor

Breast cancer is a complex type of cancer that affects everyone differently. That’s why all breast cancer patients should follow unique treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. But your primary care doctor will not have all the information you need to treat your breast cancer successfully, so that’s where specialists come in. A breast cancer specialist—an oncologist with special training in breast cancer treatment—has the right skills and insight to help you stay in control of your breast cancer. Here’s why:

 1. A breast cancer specialist completes extensive training in breast cancer and is an expert in breast cancer care.

 A breast cancer specialist is a physician who specializes in treating cancers originating in the breast. Breast cancer can develop due to many factors, so breast cancer specialists must train extensively to master this area of study. A breast cancer specialist will have expertise in treating breast cancer and complications related to the cancer.

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All doctors complete a training program called a residency after they finish medical school. But breast cancer specialists receive considerable training beyond that. Breast cancer specialists spend several additional years in an oncology fellowship, during which they train under experienced breast cancer specialists and focus on patients with breast cancer. At the end of this period, specialists are qualified to become a board-certified medical oncologist. Look for a doctor who is board certified in medical oncology, and you’ll know you’re seeing an expert. 

2. A breast cancer specialist never stops learning about breast cancer.

To maintain their board certifications, breast cancer specialists must keep up with new developments in their field. They must complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified breast cancer specialists stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in breast cancer, so they can then provide their patients insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans. This is especially important for breast cancer patients, because new treatment options have emerged in recent years that treat the cancer more effectively and efficiently.

3. A breast cancer specialist has extensive experience in treating breast cancer.

Breast cancer specialists see a higher volume and concentration of patients with breast cancer, and thus are more experienced in treating the cancer successfully. Because they see lots of patients with breast cancer, they can add real-world knowledge of the cancer to their academic and clinical training. They’re able to assess how well patients respond to certain treatments, have a deeper understanding of how breast cancer progresses over time, share insight about effectively implementing lifestyle changes, and recognize symptoms that a general practitioner may miss, among other skills.

4. A breast cancer specialist is a team player.

Breast cancer specialists work with teams of other health care providers who treat patients with breast cancer and can connect patients with surgical oncologists, psychiatric oncologists, oncology nurses, oncology social workers, pain management specialists, and other experts in breast cancer management. Working with a team can help patients address all aspects of the disease and ensure success.

5.  It’s easy to find the right breast cancer specialist for you.

There are thousands of breast cancer specialists in the United States, so how do you know which is the right doctor for you? By searching on Healthgrades.com, you can identify the best breast cancer specialist to help you manage your breast cancer successfully.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Mar 29
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