FAQ About Breast Cancer

Do I need to leave town to get the best care for my breast cancer? It is rare that a patient needs to leave Anchorage in order to get a service not available here in town. We have highly trained doctors and state-of-the-art equipment. We upgrade and add new capabilities as they are needed to maintain state-of-the-art care. Most importantly, there is an impressive level of dedication by everyone involved in Alaskan's care to provide the best care possible. If a situation arises where it would make sense for a patient to be treated outside, (for example, to be closer to family) we are happy to work with you to help you get the care you need and to make sure that you still have a team to care for you back in Anchorage.

Should I get my care at a Comprehensive Cancer Center? A breast cancer patient absolutely deserves to have access to all the services offered at a Comprehensive Cancer Center, but that does not necessarily mean that one needs to get all their care at a center. There is only one Comprehensive Breast Center in Alaska- Providence Alaska Medical Center. What this means is that Providence is equipped with the ability to meet your every need during the course of your treatment. That includes fellowship trained breast radiologists and services such as breast MRI, and access to experienced breast surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists. They offer extensive options for patients to participate in research protocols maintain a tumor registry, and host a well-attended breast cancer conference where cases are discussed by the entire medical community.  Providence also offers all the other services one needs in order to be considered a Comprehensive Breast Center including genetic counseling, navigation and social work, nutritionists, oncology rehab and other helpful services such as art therapy and the Susan Butcher Family Center. It is important to realize is that anyone can put up a web site and claim to be a Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center, even though that may not be the case.

All that being said, one does not need to get all their care at Providence in order to get wonderful care. There are excellent doctors and other providers outside of the Providence System who can take great care of you.  Our office will often mix and match doctors who work in a variety of places.  We make sure records are shared and care is coordinated. For instance, if you live in Fairbanks, it's no problem to get your radiation there.  Our patients will regularly see an oncologist whose office might be on Alaska Regional Hospital's campus, or with a Naturopath, or with a physical therapist in the community.  These providers are all wonderful and your care will not be compromised.  We work closely with everyone and we know how to get you the very best care given your specific situation.

Is the Internet a bad place for a patient to go to get information?  The majority of our patients have already searched the Internet and read up on their condition before they come to our office. In this day and age, how could you not?  Yes, the Internet can contain a lot of misleading and incorrect information. However, there is also a lot of good information about breast cancer and other breast conditions on the internet. We want you to travel informed and the internet can help you to learn what you need to know to be an informed consumer. We include several links to good web sites if you are wondering where to start. Feel free to write down questions and bring up what you learned while searching the web at your visit.

Do I need a second opinion? The majority of our patients find that they do not need second opinions. As I am a fellowship trained breast surgeon in a practice devoted to breast surgery, more often than not, I am the one offering the second opinion. A visit to another specialty such as radiation oncology can often be a good way to go as that will give the patient a perspective on their care from a different specialty. That being said, we support any patient who would like to seek a second opinion. We are also happy to help set up the second opinion. If you are seeking a second opinion, you want to see someone who is experienced and knowledgeable. The world of breast cancer surgeons is relatively small, so we also know many of the breast surgeons across the country and can help set up a second opinion outside if that is what you need to feel confident in the plan. Again, feel free to bring this up at your appointment and we can discuss.