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Treatment Options FAQs

Updated March 29, 2010

Now that the cancer has come back, should I stick with my oncologist or try a new one?

Will I get the same treatment for metastatic breast cancer that I got for the cancer when it was in an earlier stage?

I’m considering taking herbal treatments, acupuncture or vitamin therapy along with my chemotherapy. Should I talk to my doctor about these other options?

Q: Now that the cancer has come back, should I stick with my oncologist or try a new one?

A: If you developed a good relationship with your oncologist, you may want to stay with him or her. Some women feel more continuity and comfort by staying with their original doctor. But you may also want to consider getting a second opinion from another breast cancer expert. Many women with advanced breast cancer seek out second opinions before making treatment decisions.

Reviewed by Elyse Spatz Caplan, MA

Q: Will I get the same treatment for metastatic breast cancer that I got for the cancer when it was in an earlier stage?

A: Usually you will get a different treatment than the one you already received. Some medicines, such as trastuzumab (Herceptin) for HER2-positive breast cancer, or the aromatase inhibitors for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, may not have been available to you when you were first diagnosed, but may be options for you now.

Reviewed by Clifford A. Hudis, MD

Q: I’m considering taking herbal treatments, acupuncture or vitamin therapy along with my chemotherapy. Should I talk to my doctor about these other options?

A: Yes, be sure to tell your doctor what other complementary treatments you are considering in addition to the treatment your doctor has prescribed. Your doctor can make sure that these other treatments won’t interfere with the effectiveness and safety of your chemotherapy.

Some complementary treatments may enhance your well-being and may help you better deal with the cancer. They can help reduce physical and emotional side effects and enable you to play an important role in your own care. But complementary treatments are meant to be taken with, not instead of, your prescribed treatment. Remember that most herbal remedies or vitamin supplements have not been tested for safety and effectiveness.

To find out more about herbs, vitamins, over-the-counter remedies and other complementary treatments, go to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center website. It’s a good idea to educate yourself about the benefits and drawbacks of specific complementary treatments before discussing them with your doctor.

Reviewed by Elyse Spatz Caplan, MA

Denver, CO  ·  September 13, 2014

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