Simple Answers to Breast Cancer Questions for the Newly Diagnosed

Breast Cancer Clear and Simple Book Cover

Breast Cancer Clear & Simple, Second Edition: All Your Questions Answered

From the Experts at the American Cancer Society

Even though advancements in screening and treatment are making a difference in the fight against breast cancer, 246,660 women in the United States are expected to be diagnosed with the disease this year. For those who must face breast cancer, having a trusted, easy-to-read source for answers can be an invaluable way to feel more informed, more in control, and more prepared as they move forward with life and with treatment. The book Breast Cancer Clear & Simple, Second Edition, is designed to be just such a resource: a place to find thoughtful, straightforward answers that can make an overwhelming diagnosis easier to navigate.

Written by the experts at the American Cancer Society, the book uses a question-and-answer format to help guide a patient through the breast cancer journey. It provides a thorough overview of how breast cancer is diagnosed, staged, and treated, and includes helpful tools for patients, such as a checklist of questions to ask the medical team at each important step of their care. This second edition also provides information on topics including the latest in genetic counseling, the pros and cons of lumpectomy vs. mastectomy, targeted treatment of specific types of breast cancer, and how to tackle problems with finances, work, and relationships. The book is fully illustrated, and features a glossary of medical terms as well as a resource guide for patients who may want additional information or support.

This book in one sentence: Written in a straightforward question-and-answer format, Breast Cancer Clear & Simple, Second Edition will help a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient understand the disease and the latest treatment options available, so that they can make the best decisions for their care.

Who needs this book: Anyone with breast cancer who needs concise, authoritative information about the disease and how to manage it.


What does “cancer stage” mean?

“Cancer stage” tells you how much cancer there is and if the cancer has spread.

The cancer stage helps your doctor determine your treatment options and figure out what is likely to happen with your cancer.

To decide the stage of your cancer, your doctor will use the results of the physical exam and biopsy, along with results from surgery, if applicable. Other tests that might be used include a chest x-ray, mammograms of both breasts, bone scans, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and positron emission tomography (PET) scans. (Most women won’t need all of these tests.)

In cancer staging, a system of letters and numbers is used to describe the following:

  • the size of your breast tumor;
  • whether your cancer has grown into nearby structures (like the skin);
  • whether your cancer has reached nearby lymph nodes; and
  • whether your cancer has spread to other parts of your body.

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Questions to think about when deciding which type of surgery is best for you

  1. What are the risks and benefits of having lumpectomy versus mastectomy?
  2. How will I feel after losing one or both of my breasts?
  3. Has my doctor recommended one approach over the other?
  4. Am I at a higher risk for cancer recurrence (cancer coming back)?
  5. Would one type of surgery lower the chances of cancer recurring more than the other?
  6. How many lymph nodes, if any, will need to be removed?
  7. Will I need radiation therapy or other treatments after surgery? What is involved with radiation therapy?
  8. What side effects can I expect from the surgery? What can be done to help with these side effects? Which ones should be reported right away?
  9. What if I decide to have breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy? What will be involved?

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Excerpted from Breast Cancer Clear & Simple, Second Edition: All Your Questions Answered Copyright © 2016 American Cancer Society.

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