The treatment team

The treatment team

From the time that you are diagnosed with breast cancer you will be cared for by a team of health professionals including:

  • your GP or family/whānau doctor who will often be the first person you see

  • breast care nurses, who specialise in the care of people with breast cancer

  • a breast surgeon, who specialises in breast cancer surgery and sometimes a breast reconstruction surgeon

  • oncology nurse specialists who specialise in the care of people receiving cancer treatment

  • a radiation oncologist, who specialises in the use of radiation treatment

  • a medical oncologist, who specialises in the use of different medications to treat cancer

  • radiation therapists, who prepare you for and give you any radiation treatment.

Your treatment team may include other health care professionals such as a social worker, psychologist, dietitian, physiotherapist, practice nurse, community health nurse, pharmacist, occupational therapist, or a palliative care specialist.

Talking to your cancer treatment team

When you first learn you have breast cancer you may have many questions. We suggest that, before you visit your cancer treatment team, you think about the questions you would like to have answered and what you do not want to be told. There is a lot of information to take in so it can be helpful to have a support person with you when you visit.

Asking for a second opinion

You may want to ask another doctor about your cancer or treatment, to help you feel more confident about your treatment decision, or if you feel uncomfortable in any way with your medical team. You can ask your cancer doctor or GP to refer you to another cancer doctor as you are entitled to a second opinion if you want one.

Health and Disability Commission

Your rights as a health and disability service consumer are protected by the Health and Disability Commission’s Code of Rights. If you have concerns about a health and disability service, independent advocates are available to support and guide you, or you can complain directly to the Health and Disability Commissioner. Go here to find out more

Interpreting services

New Zealand’s Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights states that everyone has the right to have an interpreter present during a medical consultation. If you do not speak English as your first language or you are deaf, you may find it helpful to use an interpreter when you have your hospital appointments. Speak to a member of your health care team about arranging interpreters in your local area.