A cancer diagnosis can be tough to accept. However, suppose you have been detected suffering from breast cancer. In that case, the first thing you must do is to find a good oncologist who specialises in breast cancer surgeries or a surgical oncologist. A surgical oncologist or a breast surgeon is skilled and experienced to treat cancer by eliminating the tumours and other related cancerous tissues. These surgeons can also perform breast biopsies which confirm the stage of the disease and confirm it. However, to get the best treatment and care, you would need a team of doctors and specialists including a breast surgeon, a radiation oncologist, a medical oncologist, a plastic surgeon, and a genetic counsellor.
The process of finding and then meeting with doctors could be overwhelming and daunting at first. But it would help if you took the time to carefully select the best breast surgeon in Adelaide and other specialists that are right for you.
Here are a few things that you should consider when looking for all the essential members of your treatment team:
See Your Comfort of Asking Questions
Finding the right doctor and team, the one that has professionals and experts with whom you are comfortable will make a massive difference in the progress of your treatment. Your surgeon and doctors should not only be knowledgeable, but they should first be approachable so that you can ask all the questions you might have. They also should be able to explain your treatment options clearly to you so that you can understand well. Never think of any concern or question as trivial—your medical team should be able to help you understand your options and offer an insight into what is essential.
Specialisation and Expertise
Surgical oncology is a specialisation of general surgery. Therefore, to get a degree in surgical oncology, you should first undergo five-year postgraduate studies in general surgery, after which you pursue a three-year fellowship into surgical oncology. After that, some oncologists study further and pursue additional education and training specialising in some specific types of cancer, like bone cancer, breast cancer, etc. Some others also specialise in particular procedures. You could be referred to a surgical oncologist who may practice in multiple fields of oncology. For example, in some hospitals, especially smaller ones, a surgical biopsy or procedures like lumpectomy may be done by a general surgeon. So, you might have to work hard and research to determine how experienced and qualified is your oncologist in treating your specific case ofcancer.
A surgical oncologist who has specialisation in breast cancer is trained to handle a variety of procedures, which include the following:
- Lumpectomy: removing a tumour and surrounding tissue
- Total Mastectomy: Removing the breast altogether with the nipple and areola
- Quadranectomy: Removing a partial mastectomy which involves removing a quarter of the breast tissue
- Skin-sparing Mastectomy: In this case, the skin of the breast is conserved/saved but not the nipple or areola
- Nipple/Areola-sparing Mastectomy: Removing the breast tissue by making an incision that saves the nipple and areola
- Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy: This is a minimally invasive method of removing the first few lymph nodes present in the underarm
- Axillary Lymph Node Dissection: Removingthe lymph nodes present under the arm
Some surgical oncologists also have the skill and expertise to perform reconstructive breast surgery. Although, in most cases, a plastic surgeon has this task to perform this procedure.
How to Find a Good Surgeon
Though the number of surgical oncologists has increased as compared to the past few years, these experts mostly remain in short supply. They are generally clustered in urban areas with significant hospitals. Finding a breast surgeon in Adelaide can be daunting, but if you take the following steps, then you can find the right doctor:
- Look for a professional referral: Your physician, family doctor or medical oncologist would surely know qualified surgeons in and around your area. You can also rely on an online search and find the best breast surgeon in Adelaide.
- Check for certification: Once you have got some referrals in hand, check and confirm the doctor’s certification online.
- Check reviews and expertise: There are some websites by Medical Boards, which usually provide various details about an oncologist or doctor’s education, specialisation, active licenses in different states, reviews or feedback by patients, and if any disciplinary or legal action has been filed against them.
After you’ve shortlisted a few surgeons, now you can start scheduling face-to-face appointments.
Ask your surgeon about all check-ups, and if all your pre-operative tests will be performed in one facility or more. Then, check if these facilities will accept your insurance. Also, check if the anaesthesiologist would need to be paid separately or the fee would be combined with the surgeon. If you have any doubts, it is always a good idea to get a second opinion.
Finding the right breast surgeon is not easy, but the rewards are worth it. When you get treated with a team of doctors whom you can trust, discuss openly, and engage with, then your journey towards your treatment and wellness will become a lot easier, and you’ll also feel a lot better.