One of the first meetings your breast cancer nurse navigator will set up is with radiation oncologist Dr. Michael Hunter, even if radiation will not necessarily be part of your treatment plan. Dr. Hunter is a recognized expert on breast cancer, and author of The Little Book of Breast Cancer: a Breast Cancer Self-Teaching Guide.
This 90-minute visit is one of the things that sets breast cancer treatment at EvergreenHealth apart. You won't find them at all breast cancer treatment facilities, but we feel this commitment of time plays a key role in preparing you for treatment.
During the time between your diagnosis and the start of treatment, it's just natural that you'll worry. This concierge-style appointment is geared to ease your fear of the unknown, and to arm you with knowledge that will help empower you to make decisions about what happens next.
Dr. Hunter will start by addressing any immediate questions you might have, such as:
He'll also give you some sense of your prognosis and an idea of what your treatment pathway looks like, whether that's surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.
And finally, you'll get an idea of what the followup looks like, and what your life might look like over the next eight to ten years.
Armed with this knowledge, you'll have a better understanding of your treatment options and know what questions to ask as you meet with your surgeon or oncologists.
This visit also helps Dr. Hunter identify if you have a higher risk, which can result in a quicker consult with medical oncology if it's indicated, or to get the breast surgeon to see you sooner than would normally happen. And that improves outcomes.
If you have young children, he'll get you together with one of our social workers who can talk about programs that can help your children understand what cancer management is all about.
Dr. Hunter serves another important role: as a member of the breast cancer tumor board, where your case is collectively reviewed by radiologists, pathologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists. Our partnership with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance brings their expertise to the table, too.
This is where our experts will review your mammograms and the pathology of your tumor(s), and make recommendations for the best treatment for your breast cancer.
The breast cancer tumor board meets weekly, but the advantage of having everyone under one roof means the answer to a question, or an idea for a different type of therapy, is just a short walk or a phone call away. That isn't always possible in larger, academic centers. It means that at the Halvorson Cancer Center, the best minds are working together every single day, with you, to develop the treatment plan that offers you the best outcome.
Every breast cancer is unique. In some cases, treatment may begin with surgery, followed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells. Other times, the best course of treatment may be using chemotherapy or radiation therapy to shrink a tumor's size, followed by surgery to remove it.
Whatever your team recommends, you'll find all breast cancer treatment options are conveniently available at the Halvorson Cancer Center on the EvergreenHealth Kirkland campus.
Learn more about our treatment options for breast cancer: