Glossary

Building Your Treatment Team

Your treatment team varies depending on your specific needs and what's available in your community. This glossary is designed to help you understand the different types of care available as your treatment needs change over time. Work with your nurse navigator or social worker – a medical professional who can help you make informed decisions about and access care – to find specialists in your community.

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Clergy

Local clergy and religious organizations can provide support through spiritual counseling and community networking.

Complementary Care (also known as Integrative or Holistic Medicine)

Care used along with standard medical treatments to improve physical and mental health. Complementary care could include acupuncture, meditation, visualization exercises or yoga and should be discussed with your oncology treatment team.

Hospice

Care that takes place in a person’s home as they are approaching end of life. Hospice provides support to address a person’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

Nurse

Health care provider who acts as the first line of communication for metastatic breast cancer (MBC) treatment, and helps to manage treatment administration, symptoms, side effects and oncology team communication.

Oncologist

Health care provider who provides medical care for people diagnosed with cancer. Your oncologist can also connect you to specific doctors (eg pulmonologist for lung metastasis, gastroenterologist for liver metastasis) based on your diagnosis.

Oncology Physical Therapist

Health care provider who addresses physical challenges caused by cancer and cancer treatment, and helps you retain and build levels of physical function.

Oncology Social Worker

Counselor who provides emotional support for people living with cancer and helps them access practical assistance. Depending on where you are being treated, a social worker may serve as your care navigator – helping to guide all aspects of your care. They can also connect you to financial and legal advisors in your community.

Palliative Care Specialist

Health care provider who works to improve quality of life by relieving the pain, symptoms and stress associated with MBC. Services provided include: psychological and spiritual care, symptom relief and life planning. Palliative care is not the same as hospice. While many think of the 2 specialists as the same, palliative care is something that can begin at diagnosis to help someone have a better quality of life while living with a disease. Hospice may begin when treatment is stopped. Asking to be referred to a palliative care specialist does not mean you're asking to be put into hospice care.

Patient Support Groups

Local nonprofit organizations can provide a variety of support avenues for MBC treatment, including networking with other people impacted, transportation to visits and more. Check your local community center or online to see what could be available to you.

Primary Care Physician

Day-to-day health care provider who manages follow-up care (eg testing) and treatment of long-term side effects of MBC. They should also coordinate with your oncologist to manage your overall medications and health, such as cardio (heart) health.

Psychiatrist

Health care provider who can help you manage the emotional changes associated with MBC.

Psychologist

Health care provider who can help you manage the emotional and psychological challenges associated with MBC. Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists cannot prescribe medicine.

Registered Dietitian (RD)

A nutrition expert who can help you determine the best diet to help you achieve your treatment goals, such as maintaining energy for daily activities or exercise, preventing weight change, or others.

Visit these pages to learn more:
  • Physical
    Health
  • Emotional &
    Spiritual Health
  • MBC
    & Relationships
  • Life
    Planning