A doctor uses a tablet while talking to a female patient in an office.

By the time you’ve finished reading this article, another woman in the U.S. will learn she has breast cancer. A diagnosis happens more than a quarter of a million times each year, and in her lifetime, a woman has a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer in some form.

No doubt, a breast cancer diagnosis is scary. But it’s important to understand that women have more options than ever before and, when it comes to beating breast cancer, knowledge is power. Here are five things all women should remember:

1. A breast cancer diagnosis is a mental emergency, but not necessarily a medicalemergency.

The most common reaction after a breast cancer diagnosis is for the patient to want to have the tumor removed as soon as possible.

Although this knee-jerk reaction as a result of fear is easy to understand, in the vast majority of cases, it’s unwarranted. I advise my patients to take a step back, consider all aspects of their diagnosis and explore all options for therapy.

Remember: Not all breast cancers are the same. There are several different types and subsets of breast cancer, all of which can be diagnosed at different stages.

Although surgery is a crucial component of early breast cancer treatment, it does not always have to be the first step.

2. Assemble your support team.

Very few women are prepared for a breast cancer diagnosis, and most find themselves reacting to a challenging situation while emotionally distracted.

It’s important for patients to come up with a list of go-to supporters who could help on both emotional and logistical levels.

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Emotionally, family, friends, clergy and support groups – even acquaintances who’ve overcome breast cancer – can all provide crucial support and encouragement.

Too often, however, women don’t think of the logistical support they will need. By the time they’re in the throes of battling breast cancer, many hadn’t considered things like emergency child care, transportation to and from appointments or those who could help with the day-to-day needs of their families.

Even if you’ve never been diagnosed, those are things worth thinking about long before you find yourself in an emotional crisis.

3. Choose where you will be treated.

The majority of women with breast cancer are diagnosed by their primary care physician or gynecologist, who will then refer them to cancer specialists for further evaluation and treatment.

Remember, where you receive you cancer care is an important factor for a successful outcome. You should be part of the decision of selecting you cancer care team of experts.

The American Cancer Society offers an outstanding checklist of things to consider before settling on a doctor or hospital.

My advice is to do your homework so you can find the best cancer care available to you.

4. Assemble your treatment team.

No matter where you go for treatment, make sure they offer a team approach to your care. That team should include at least a surgeon/surgical oncologist, a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist, as all three specialties have important roles in your care. You want a team that has expertise in cancer care, in general, and, ideally, in breast cancer, in particular.

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Other team members to consider might include radiologists, pathologists, plastic/reconstructive surgeons, physical therapists, psychologists, dietitians and genetic counselors. All of them could play important roles in your breast cancer care plan from the outset.

Larger medical centers, like the one I’m a part of at UF Health Cancer Center–Orlando Health, are more likely to offer a wider variety of cancer care in one location, where the entire team is under one roof. This also helps make appointments and treatment more convenient.

5. Develop a treatment plan thinking long-term.

Nearly 9 out of 10 breast cancer patients will pass the five-year survival mark, so it’s important to develop a treatment plan with long-term goals in mind.

In the past, for example, the priority for many doctors was to perform surgery to eradicate the cancer, only to address reconstruction in a follow-up surgery months or years later.

Today, with long-term survival in mind, many women are consulting with plastic surgeons at the time of diagnosis to discuss reconstructive options. In most cases, removal and reconstruction of the breast takes place at the same time.

Medical interventions are also being considered at the outset of breast cancer treatment in order to maximize the chances for cure. For example, in selected cases of breast cancer presenting with larger tumors that have aggressive behavior, such as triple-negative or HER2-positive breast cancers, patients may be offered chemotherapy before surgery, an approach that may be more suitable than surgery first in appropriate candidates.

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By the time you’ve finished reading this article, another woman in the U.S. will learn she has breast cancer. A diagnosis happens more than a\u00a0quarter of a million times each year, and in her lifetime, a woman has a\u00a01 in 8\u00a0chance of developing breast cancer in some form.<\/p>\n<\/div>\n

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No doubt, a breast cancer diagnosis is scary. But it’s important to understand that women have more options than ever before and, when it comes to beating breast cancer, knowledge is power. Here are five things all women should remember:<\/p>\n<\/div>\n

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1. A breast cancer diagnosis is a mental<\/i> emergency, but not necessarily a medical<\/i>emergency.<\/b><\/p>\n<\/div>\n

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The most common reaction after a breast cancer diagnosis is for the patient to want to have the tumor removed as soon as possible.<\/p>\n<\/div>\n

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Although this knee-jerk reaction as a result of fear is easy to understand, in the vast majority of cases, it’s unwarranted. I advise my patients to take a step back, consider all aspects of their diagnosis and explore all options for therapy.<\/p>\n<\/div>\n

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Remember: Not all breast cancers are the same. There are several different\u00a0types and subsets of breast cancer, all of which can be diagnosed at different stages.<\/p>\n<\/div>\n

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Although surgery is a crucial component of early breast cancer treatment, it does not always have to be the first step.<\/p>\n<\/div>\n

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2. Assemble your support team.<\/b><\/p>\n<\/div>\n

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Very few women are prepared for a breast cancer diagnosis, and most find themselves reacting to a challenging situation while emotionally distracted.<\/p>\n<\/div>\n

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It’s important for patients to come up with a list of go-to supporters who could help on both emotional and logistical levels.<\/p>\n

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