Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant. In some cases, based on a clinical breast exam or findings on an imaging test, you may be referred to a breast-health specialist.
The initial evaluation focuses on your medical history. Your health care provider will want to discuss your symptoms, their relation to your menstrual cycle and any other relevant information.
What you can do
To prepare for your appointment, make a list of:
- All your symptoms, even if they seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment
- Key personal information, including the dates and results of any prior mammograms
- All medications, vitamins, herbs and supplements that you take
- Questions to ask your doctor, listing them from most important to least important in case time runs out
Basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is causing my symptoms?
- Do these symptoms increase my risk of breast cancer?
- What kinds of tests will I need?
- What treatment is likely to work best?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- Are there any restrictions I'll need to follow?
- Are there any printed materials that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask questions anytime you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor may ask you questions, such as:
- What are your symptoms and how long have you had them?
- Do you experience any breast pain? If so, what is the severity of your pain?
- Do your symptoms occur in one or both breasts?
- When did you have your last mammogram?
- Have you ever had breast cancer or precancerous breast lesions?
- Do you have a family history of cancer?
- Non-cancerous breast conditions. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/healthy/findcancerearly/womenshealth/non-cancerousbreastconditions/non-cancerous-breast-conditions-fibrocystic-changes. Accessed Feb. 14, 2013.
- McPhee SJ, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2010. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Medical; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=8538. Accessed Feb. 14, 2013.
- Frequently asked questions. Gynecologic problems FAQ026. Benign breast problems and conditions. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq026.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130214T1505295029. Accessed Feb. 14, 2013.
- Golshan M, et al. Breast pain. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 14, 2013.
- Pruthi S, et al. Vitamin E and evening primrose oil for management of cyclical mastalgia: A randomized pilot study. Alternative Medicine Review. 2010;15:59.
- Understanding breast changes: A health guide for women. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/screening/understanding-breast-changes. Accessed Feb. 14, 2013.
- Ferrara A. Benign breast disease. Radiologic Technology. 2011;82:447M.
- Sabel MS. Breast masses and other common breast problems. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 14, 2013.
- Evening Primrose oil. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Feb. 14, 2013.
- Gallenberg MM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 19, 2013.
- Pruthi S (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Rochester, Minn. Feb. 25, 2013.