The Shared Medical Appointment

David Arbutina, M.D., FACS

Hearing that you have breast cancer is a devastating occurrence.  It provokes a whirlwind of worry, anxiety and finally a resolve to move on with therapy.  Much of what the patient is initially told about their disease is lost because of anxiety.  Hopefully, a patient is educated about her disease and makes the right therapy choices.  But when the initial therapy is complete, the worry and anxiety go on.  In the back of every cancer patient’s mind there is that nagging concern of whether any cancer remains.  The shared medical appointment is one way we at the Women’s Health and Breast Cancer Institute help women cope with this underlying fear.  Knowledge is the key and this is one way to keep informed.

The shared medical appointment is set up for 5 to 8 breast cancer patients who are returning for their surveillance follow up visits.  These visits are necessary to look for any signs of possible recurrence of their initial cancer and to screen for new breast cancers which these patients are at higher risk.  The patient exams are individual as always.  Questions, however, are addressed as a group.  This group involvement gives the women a chance to see that they are not the only patients with unanswered questions.  It also stimulates questions from the subconscious which when answered allows the group to leave feeling better about their diagnosis.  The more the patient knows about breast cancer the lower their anxiety which actually improves their prognosis.