Asking the Right Questions as a Patient With Breast Cancer

At the 2020 CURE® Educated Patient Breast Cancer Summit, oncology nurse Patricia Jakel had the chance to discuss the types of questions patients should be asking their care team.

It’s important for patients with metastatic breast cancer to have a complete understanding of their treatment options ahead of them, and that means asking the right questions. Especially as the landscape of metastatic breast cancer continues to change and remain unpredictable.

Patricia Jakel, a clinical nurse specialist in the Solid Tumor Program at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, spoke about the questions and topics that patients should be asking their oncologist about if they are concerned about their treatment at the 2020 CURE® Educated Patient Breast Cancer Summit, held March 7, 2020, in Miami, Florida.


I don’t like statistics, because when you look at the world of metastatic breast cancer, either ER-positive or HER2-positive or even triple negative, we can’t look at those numbers anymore. And those numbers lag behind what’s actually happening in real-time because you have to have five years for survivorship data. Is five years the right amount of time? I don’t know.

So, questions they should ask is, why is this the best treatment option for me. Challenge them a little bit! Why do you think, you know, when can I stop this medication, why is two years long enough, is three years, and sometimes there is no data and that’s kind of a struggle right now. We’re leap frogging so fast with metastatic breast cancer that we sometimes don’t have data to tell you what it is going to be like in four or five years so that oftentimes is difficult for data driven people.

Other people, like myself, I didn’t really want to know the data because I’m not a big data person. I want to know, well, what’s your quality of life while you’re on these medications? Am I going to be able to work? Am I going to be able to exercise? Exercise was really important to me, so it really depends on what’s important to you at that point in your life.