What to Expect at Your First Breast Cancer Appointment

We’ll be here for you every step of the way.

It’s normal to have questions or be concerned after receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer. But you won’t be alone on your journey.

Our team will meet with you during an intensive full-day appointment to answer all your questions and explain what happens next. We do this for thousands of patients like you every year. Knowing what to expect can help calm your fears and give you a sense of control over your treatment.

What should I expect from my first appointment?

It’s important that you understand your diagnosis and treatment options. This information is crucial to the choices you will make for your care. During your full-day, clinic-based appointment, your breast cancer team will talk you and your loved ones through the process and answer any questions you may have.

Your first visit will include:

  • Introduction: You will meet first with a nurse practitioner who specializes in breast care. This meeting will include a discussion of your medical history and a physical exam.
  • Patient education: Next, you will attend a patient education class and watch educational videos that explain the breast cancer treatment and recovery process. We’ll also share information about our breast cancer support resources, as well as those offered by the American Cancer Society.
  • Breast cancer tumor board: While you attend the patient education class, your breast cancer team hold a tumor board meeting in a different room to review your case. They will discuss treatment options, including your eligibility for clinical trials, and determine which specialists may be involved in your care. You will meet some of those specialists during this appointment.
  • Treatment planning: You will meet the specialists who will be involved with your treatment. Your breast cancer treatment plan will be specific to your cancer, health and priorities. You will also meet your nurse navigator, who will guide you and your loved ones to make the needed appointments for your plan, along with answering questions about your condition and helping connect you with support resources along your journey.
  • Comprehensive breast cancer support: After you meet with your breast cancer team, we will introduce you to a breast cancer survivor through the Imerman Angels program. We will also connect you with a wide range of support services and resources during treatment and recovery, such as breast cancer support groups and wig services for patients undergoing chemotherapy.

You will leave your first appointment with the name and phone number of your breast cancer nurse navigator, who is available anytime to answer questions or help schedule appointments. Your nurse navigator is most often able to return your phone call within the same day.

What questions should I ask my breast cancer doctors?

As you prepare for your first appointment, consider asking the following questions of your breast cancer care team:

  • What type of breast cancer do I have?
  • What stage is my cancer, and how does that affect my treatment options?
  • Do I need more tests?
  • How soon should I begin treatment?
  • How should I prepare for treatment?
  • How might my life change after treatment?
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Our cancer team is available 24/7 to help you find a specialist and answer your questions.

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Henry Ford Health System is committed to ensuring our Deaf or hard-of-hearing patients and visitors have equal access to all services. We provide the appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language interpreters, TTYs and other assistive listening devices, at no cost. To request assistance, call 313-916-1896 or email CommunicationAccess@hfhs.org.

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