Making sure you have the right medical team in place is important for your physical wellbeing and emotional wellbeing. While it’s normal to want to get your cancer dealt with by the first available specialist, it’s worth taking a little time to make sure you are comfortable with each member of your medical team.
Remember, you may have to see these people for several years as you go through your treatment and follow-up appointments.
While you may initially be referred to one specialist, you do not need to stay with that specialist. If you are unhappy about or uncomfortable with the specialist you have been referred to, it’s a good idea to seek a second opinion. If you would like a second opinion, you can ask your GP or specialist for a referral to someone suitable.
When looking for a surgeon or medical oncologist, word of mouth goes a long way. If you’re not sure where to start, you may like to get recommendations from other people who have experienced breast cancer.
You should feel empowered to make choices regarding your treatment and care. One of the choices you can make is whether to have your treatment in the public or private health system.
You can also choose to have some of your treatment in the private health system (chemotherapy) and some in the public health system (radiotherapy).
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of the public and private health systems in Australia.
More information on public and private patient care can be found on our factsheet Managing the financial impacts of breast cancer and the BCNA article offering tips to help deal with the financial stress of breast cancer.
The members of your medical team may include:
Your GP will also play an important role in your care. Your GP can clarify any information given to you by your specialists, help you with treatment decisions, and assist you to find practical and emotional support.
Ask your specialists to send copies of all tests and planned treatments to your GP.
In Australia it is considered best practice for breast cancer treatment to be managed though a multidisciplinary team (MDT) approach. This means that the health professionals involved in your care meet to discuss the best treatment options for you.
As well as the health professionals listed above, the MDT may include a pathologist and others involved in cancer care.
You can ask your surgeon if a multidisciplinary team is involved in your treatment.
Visit My Journey, BCNA’s online tool for information tailored to your diagnosis.
Join our Online Network if you think that talking to others online and sharing experiences will help.
Contact BCNA’s Helpline on 1800 500 258 between 9.00 am to 5.00 pm AEST Monday to Friday, for information about the services and supports that may be available for you and your family.
Use the Find a surgeon function on the Breast Surgeons of Australia and New Zealand website (BreastSurgANZ) website, which provides a comprehensive search of breast surgeons in your local area.
Lisa is a Consumer Representative for BCNA. Lisa was diagnosed in 2012 and is passionate about helping people with breast cancer
Ruth is a Consumer Representative for Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA). She shares her lived experience with breast cancer
Breast cancer presents numerous financial challenges, and BCNA offers practical tips to help you manage the financial impact of breast cancer
Self-employed? You may need to make decisions about working and running your business while you have treatment
Lisa is a Consumer Representative for BCNA. She shares her story and experience with living with metastatic breast cancer.