Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
For evaluation of a new breast lump or changes in your breast, you're likely to start by seeing your primary health care provider. In some cases, based on a clinical breast exam or findings on an imaging test, you may be referred to a breast health specialist.
What you can do
The initial evaluation will focus on your medical history, as well as signs and symptoms you're experiencing, including their relation to your menstrual cycle. To prepare for this discussion:
- Take note of all your symptoms, even if they seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Review key personal information, including major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements that you regularly take.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor, listing questions from most important to least important, in case time runs out.
For mammary duct ectasia, here are some questions you might ask your doctor:
- What's causing my symptoms?
- Will this condition resolve itself, or will I need treatment?
- What treatment approach do you recommend?
- Is there an over-the-counter medication I can take for pain relief?
- What self-care measures can I try?
- Do you have printed information I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor may ask you a number of questions, such as:
- How long have you experienced symptoms?
- Have your symptoms changed over time?
- Do you experience breast pain? How severe?
- Do you have nipple discharge? How would you describe the color, consistency and amount?
- Do your symptoms occur in one or both breasts?
- Have you had a fever?
- When was your last mammogram?
- Have you ever been diagnosed with a precancerous breast condition?
- Have you ever had a breast biopsy or been diagnosed with a benign breast condition?
- Has your mother, a sister or anyone else in your family had breast cancer?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Non-cancerous breast conditions. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003180-pdf.pdf. Accessed April 24, 2012.
- Hari S, et al. Bilateral severe mammary duct ectasia. Acta Radiologica. 2007;48:398.
- Understanding breast changes: A health guide for women. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/screening/understanding-breast-changes/page1/AllPages. Accessed April 24, 2012.
- Rosen PP. Rosen's Breast Pathology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009:33.
- Guray M, et al. Benign breast diseases: Classification, diagnosis, and management. The Oncologist. 2006;11:435.
- Santen RJ, et al. Benign breast disorders. New England Journal of Medicine. 2005;353:275.
- Miltenberg DM, et al. Benign breast disease. Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America. 2008;35:285.
- Pruthi S (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 10, 2012.