One in eight women will get breast cancer in her lifetime.
While statistics can seem scary, breast cancer can be caught early with the help of regular doctor visits.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to get a reminder of the questions to ask your physician about breast cancer.
Here’s list of things to ask your doctor depending on the topic, provided by Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
If you find a lump in your breast:
- Do I need a mammogram or ultrasound?
- What is the next step if the mammogram and ultrasounds are inconclusive?
- Should I get an MRI?
- Can this lump be aspirated (fluid or cells removed with a needle)?
- Will I need a biopsy (tissued examined under a microscope)?
- If further tests and/or treatment are needed, will you refer me to a doctor who specializes in breast problems?
- Do you recommend any special follow up?
- Other than cancer, what causes breast lumps or changes?
When breast cancer is diagnosed:
- What were the results of my biopsy or needle aspiration?
- What kind of breast cancer do I have? What is the stage of my disease? What is the size of the tumor? Has the cancer spread to my lymph nodes or other parts of my body?
- What tests were done on the tumor and what were the results? How do these affect my options for treating the cancer?
- Who will coordinate my care?
- Will the lymph nodes under my arm by checked for cancer? If so, how will this affect my treatment options?
- What test will I have before surgery to see if the cancer has spread to any other organs?
- What do you recommend for treatment? Will you refer me to an oncologist?
- What is my prognosis (chance for recovery)?
- Is there anything I should do to prepare for my mammogram?
- What is the difference between digital mammography and regular mammography?
- What will the mammogram show?
- What happens next if the mammogram shows something that looks abnormal?
- Will my insurance cover the mammogram? What about Medicare? Will I have to pay anything?
- What happens if I use a different mammography center or move? Should I take my past films with me?
- Where will the biopsy take place?
- What type of biopsy will I have? Why do you recommend this type? Will the entire lump be removed or just part of it?
- Can the biopsy be done on an outpatient basis? Will I be awake? What will I fell during the procedure?
- What medications should I avoid before the biopsy and for how long?
- Will the biopsy leave a scar?
- When will I be able to return to my normal routine?
- If cancer is found, who will talk with me about my treatment options? When must I make a decision about my treatment choices?
About treatment choices:
- What are my treatment options? What do you recommend for me and why?
- What is opinion about breast-conserving surgery followed by radiation therapy? Is this treatment right for me?
- Will I need more treatment after my surgery? Will you refer me to a radiation oncologist for radiation therapy and a medical oncologist to discuss the need for chemotherapy or hormonal therapy?
- How long do I have to make a treatment decision? What will my insurance cover?
Genes and inherited breast cancer risk:
- Should I get genetic testing? Should I talk with a genetic counselor? If yes, why? How is the test done?
- When should I get the test? Will options be different in my treatment?
- What are the benefits and risks of genetic testing?
- What does our family need to think about when considering genetic testing (i.e., emotional impact, what it will mean for other family members, what we will do with the information)?
- How much does genetic testing cost? Does my insurance pay for it?
- Will my results be confidential? Who will see my results? What are the risks and benefits of getting tested?
- What are my options if I have a mutation in a breast cancer gene?
To view all the physician questions and topics, view the Susan G. Komen for the Cure site online at http://ww5.komen.org/breastcancer/QuestionstoAsktheDoctorPDFDownloads.html.
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