Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Breast Cancer
Find out about symptoms and treatment options
The following is a list of questions for discussion with your doctor about breast cancer from Second Opinion. However, it is not a comprehensive list.
General questions about breast health and breast cancer detection:
- Can you or someone in your office work with me to make sure I'm doing my breast self exams correctly?
- Are there changes in my breasts I should expect when I'm close to my menstrual period?
- What does it mean if I have breast pain?
- What does it mean if I have nipple discharge or inflammation?
- If I feel something during my self-exam, have breast pain or nipple discharge/inflammation, should I see you immediately or should I wait for a time to see if it resolves? If so, how long?
- Are any medications I am taking likely to cause breast problems?
- What are the pros and cons of having a mammogram at my age?
- What is your recommendation on mammograms?
If you believe you're at high risk to get breast cancer:
- Is there anything in my background that indicates
◦ I should have mammograms more often than your usual recommendations?
◦ I should see a specialist?
- Where should I have my mammogram?
- What do you recommend to women to prevent breast cancer?
If you have found a lump in your breast:
- What tests should I have?
- How likely is it that the lump is cancerous
If a biopsy is recommended:
- What type of biopsy are you recommending and why?
- What is involved in the type of biopsy you are recommending?
If you have a cancer diagnosis:
- What is the stage of my cancer?
- Has my cancer spread to lymph nodes or internal organs?
- What are the results of my estrogen and progesterone tests?
- What were the results of other tests (flow cytometry and other markers for tumor aggressiveness)?
- What treatments are appropriate for me? What do you recommend? Why?
- How often will I receive treatment?
- How long will the treatment last?
- How well has this option worked for others?
- What are the potential benefits of this treatment?
- What are the risks or side effects that I should expect?
- If I experience side effects, how long will they last and how can they be managed?
- Are the possible side effects of this treatment serious enough to interfere with continuing therapy?
- How effective will breast reconstruction surgery be in my case if I need it or want it?
- What should I do to get ready for treatment?
- Should I follow a special diet?
- Will I be able to have children after my treatment?
- Will I go through menopause as a result of the treatment?
- What are the chances of recurrence of my cancer with the treatment programs we have outlined?
- What is my prognosis?
This article reprinted with permission from Second Opinion, a public television health program hosted by Dr. Peter Salgo and produced by WXXI (Rochester, NY), West 175 and the University of Rochester Medical Center.