Foster a ‘Powerful Team’ Between Patients and Cancer Clinicians

Knowledge and open communication are key to creating a competent cancer care team and ensuring better outcomes.

After receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, there are no wrong questions to ask your care team, explained Dr. Igor Makhlin, assistant professor of medicine at Penn Medicine.

In a recent interview with CURE® ahead of the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center’s 25th Life After Breast Cancer conference, Makhlin explained that when patients and their loved ones have a solid understanding of the disease and treatments, they can better express their values and goals, and therefore build a “powerful team” between the patient and clinicians.


One of the main messages I'd love for patients to come away with from conferences like Life After Breast Cancer is that communication is so important, and knowledge is really power. Particularly for patients first appointments, when they're newly diagnosed, whether it's early-stage or metastatic, asking a lot of questions, there is no wrong question to ask. The more you know, and the more you can express what your values are, and what is most important to you, I think that the more powerful the team will be between the patient and the oncology team, and I think the more happy patients will be with the types of treatments they receive and the outcomes. And so really keeping good communication.

The other thing I would say is that this is a really exciting time for breast cancer research and treatment. And we are I feel like just at the tip of the iceberg for where we're headed, which is more targeted therapy, less toxic therapy and hopefully much better outcomes in the near future.

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