Physicians Who Treat Breast Cancer
Selecting physician specialists to treat your breast cancer is an important decision to make. When selecting a team of physicians to treat breast cancer, it is important to look for specialists who are highly trained in their fields. The comprehensive teams of expert breast cancer specialists at MemorialCare Breast Centers located in Orange County and Los Angeles County are devoted to the care of women who have breast cancer.
Physicians who have completed their residency training in a specific area of medicine are on their way to become specialists. Once they have completed their education, training and national board exams they become board-certified specialists in their field.
Why are there so many different breast cancer specialists?
Breast cancer can be treated effectively with a team of oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, and geneticists who are trained in breast cancer care. Specialists will be able to work with you to develop a comprehensive strategy for your breast cancer treatment and increase your chances for getting the best possible results.
What does each breast cancer specialist do?
Physicians across several board certified specialties team together to help treat cancer. While there are no board certifications for specialties in the specific area of breast cancer, physicians who are board certified in the following specialties may focus on the treatment of breast cancer:
- Oncologist & Hematologist or Oncologist – Medical - A physician who specializes in the medical treatment of cancer. These physicians have extensive knowledge on how cancers behave, grow and attack the body. The physician utilizes their knowledge to determine your risk of cancer recurrence as well as advantages a various course of treatments such as chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, or targeted therapy. Generally, your medical oncologist manages your overall care and monitors your progress during your course of cancer treatment. The oncologist reviews your lab and imaging results, and coordinates your medical care throughout treatment and recovery.
- Radiation Oncologist - A physician trained in cancer treatments using radiation therapy.
- General Surgeon - A surgeon who is trained in performing biopsies and surgical procedures to remove cancer tissue such as a lump or a breast.
- Plastic Surgeon - A surgeon who specializes in reconstructive techniques.
- Pathologist - A physician who checks your tissue samples under a microscope. They determine whether cancer is present, its size, if the cancer was removed completely by surgery, and how many lymph nodes are affected by cancer, if any. The pathologist's report also tells the stage of cancer.
- Radiologist - Specialists who are trained at interpreting images and X-rays such as a mammogram.
- Medical Geneticist or Clinical Genetics (MD) - A physician trained to evaluate the chance of each person having a gene for breast cancer. Geneticist conducts genetic risk assessment and genetic counseling.
In addition to breast cancer specialists, other medical professionals may be involved in your breast cancer treatment, including:
- Patient (Nurse) Navigator - Helps newly diagnosed breast cancer patients with care coordination, symptom management, support and education to help get them through the journey. Our navigator provides support and expertise to patients throughout the continuum of care.
- Radiation Therapist – A professional who helps place you in the correct treatment position and interprets X-ray studies.
- Radiation Technologist – A professional who checks the radiation dosage to make it as safe as possible.
How to find a breast cancer specialist
Specialists may also be found in our Find a Provider physician’s directory. Talking to your primary care physician and asking them for a referral to a breast cancer specialist is a good first step. MemorialCare Breast Center and MemorialCare Cancer Institute offer second-opinion programs to help you understand your diagnosis and treatment options.