Cancer Care Team
The Breast Cancer Care Team
Treating breast cancer is a team effort. Here is a list of cancer specialists that most women will encounter during their care.
Radiologist - Radiologists specialize in imaging and interpreting the images of the breast and other areas of the body whether it be with mammography, ultrasound imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI),and other scans to identify potentially diseased tissue.
Pathologist - following a biopsy (removal of a small piece of tissue from the breast or other areas of the body), pathologists microscopically examine the tissue to identify cancer and other diseases in the cells. Pathologist also apply stains to cells to identify characteristics of the cells such as estrogen and human growth factor receptors that play important roles in breast cancer.
Surgeon - Surgeons specialize in performing biopsies and other procedures in cancer patients.
Medical oncologist - Often the main health care provider for a cancer patient. Medical oncologist specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer, using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of those. Medical oncologist also provides supportive care and may coordinate treatment given by other specialists.
Radiation oncologist - Specializes in using radiation to treat cancer.
Plastic/Reconstructive surgeon - Has special training in reducing scarring or disfigurement that may occur as a result of cancer treatment.
Social worker - A professional trained to talk with patients and their families about physical and emotional needs, and to find them supportive services.
Genetic counselor - A health professional who has special training in medical genetics and counseling. Genetic counselors help patients and families who have, or who may be at risk of, cancer. They help patients find out their chances of having cancer or other genetic condition or of having a child or other family member with a genetic condition. They also help patients understand their options for genetic testing, including its risks and benefits. After genetic testing is done, genetic counselors help patients understand their genetic test results, including how the results can affect other family members, and provide counseling and support.
Oncology nurses & Physician assistants - In addition to physicians, oncology nurses and physician assistants provide treatment and care for patients diagnosed with cancer.
Research scientist - A individual who is engaged in and has expert knowledge of the science and biology of cancer.
Psychologist - A specialist who can talk with patients and their families about emotional and personal matters and can help them make decisions regarding their treatment.
Survivorship specialist - Survivorship specialist focuses on the health and life of a cancer patient post treatment until the end of life. The specialist covers the physical, psychosocial, and economic issues of cancer, beyond the diagnosis and treatment phases. Survivorship includes issues related to the ability to get health care and follow-up treatment, late effects of treatment, second cancers, and quality of life. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also considered part of the survivorship experience.
Physical therapist - A specialist who helps cancer patients combat post treatment rehabilitation. Physical limitations of cancer patients may include cancer-related fatigue, pain, nerve damage, deconditioning, lymphedema, as well as incontinence.
Fertility/gynecology - Fertility preservation means preserving the ability of an individual to start a family at a time of their choosing. Oncofertility is a term coined for fertility preservation in cancer patients. Improvement in cancer management and increasing survival rates has created a need for oncofertility. Gynecology is the branch of medicine which deals with the functions and diseases specific to women, especially those affecting the reproductive system.
Watch the video on this page for an overview of the specialists young women may see and an overview of breast cancer treatment.