Your Medical Team

Updated 
August 31, 2015
Reviewed By: 
Jennifer Chalfin Simmons, MD, FACS;  
Andrea Pedano, DO, FACOFP;  
Terry J. Styles, MD;  
Frank A. Vicini, MD;  

Your healthcare providers are a key part of your support team. Many hospitals take a team-based approach to care, meaning your providers work together to follow your case and meet regularly to discuss your treatment.

When putting together your team, ask yourself: “Do I trust and feel confident about this person? Do we communicate well? Did this person listen to my questions and concerns?”

The people below may be involved in your care. They are organized in the order in which you might meet them throughout treatment.

Radiologist

A radiologistinfo-icon reads pictures of organs and tissues and looks for disease. The radiologist reads mammograms, sonograms, ultrasounds, MRIs, CAT scans, bone scans and PET scans. Some radiologists specialize in breast imaginginfo-icon, while others are general radiologists. Sometimes more than one radiologist may be involved in your care.

Pathologist

A pathologistinfo-icon diagnoses disease by looking at tissues under a microscope and figuring out the specific type of breast cancer.

Surgical Oncologist

A surgical oncologistinfo-icon removes cancer during surgeryinfo-icon. Surgical oncologists are general surgeons who receive special training in the diagnosisinfo-icon and surgical treatment of cancer. In some cases, the surgical oncologist serves as the main doctor in charge of your treatment.

Nurse Navigator

A nurseinfo-icon navigator is a nurse who guides you and your caregivers through the healthcare system so you can get the information you need to make informed decisions about treatment.

Patient Navigator

A patient navigator is a nurseinfo-icon, social workerinfo-icon or person who helps you and your loved ones quickly get access to the tools you need to get treatment and keep your quality of lifeinfo-icon.

Reproductive Endocrinologist

A reproductive endocrinologist is an expert on fertilityinfo-icon. Meeting with this type of doctor early on, before treatment begins if possible, can help you understand how breast cancer treatment could affect your ability to become pregnant in the future. He or she can explain what to do to improve your chances of having biological children.

Genetic Counselor

A geneticinfo-icon counselor is trained to talk to you about your family history of cancer. This person can tell you about genetic testinginfo-icon and help you decide if testing is right for you.

Primary Care Physician

A primary careinfo-icon physicianinfo-icon provides you with your regular medical care and may manage your care with your other doctors.

Medical Oncology Nurse

A medical oncology nurseinfo-icon is a registered nurseinfo-icon with special training in the medical and emotional needs of people with cancer. Oncologyinfo-icon nurses give anti-cancer treatments, including chemotherapyinfo-icon, hormonal therapyinfo-icon and targeted treatments. They also can help you manage side effects and the emotional aspects of dealing with cancer.

Surgical Oncology Nurse

A surgical oncology nurseinfo-icon is a registered nurseinfo-icon with special training in the surgical treatment and emotional needs of people with cancer. Before surgeryinfo-icon, surgical oncologyinfo-icon nurses talk to you about surgery and give tests, and after surgery they help you with wounds and ongoing care.

Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitionerinfo-icon is an advanced practice registered nurseinfo-icon with special training in the treatment and emotional needs of people with cancer. NPs can give or prescribe medicineinfo-icon and help you manage side effects and access support services.

Social Worker or Counselor

A social workerinfo-icon or counselor talks with you and your family about your emotional needs and helps you find support services.

Physician Assistant

A physician assistantinfo-icon is a licensed health provider who can diagnose and treat cancer with a doctor’s oversight. PAs can order tests, assist with surgeryinfo-icon and prescribe medicineinfo-icon.

Physical Therapist

A physical therapistinfo-icon performs and teaches exercises to help you maintain strength before starting treatment and to improve recovery.

When you start treatment, ask which doctor will coordinate your care. If you have questions, you should be able to contact your main doctor, even if you just want to ask which person to call.

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