For evaluation of a new breast lump or changes on your breast exam, you'll likely start by seeing your primary 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 focuses on your medical history. You'll discuss your symptoms, their relation to your menstrual cycle and any other relevant information. To prepare for this discussion, make lists that include:
- All your symptoms, even if they seem unrelated to the reason you scheduled the appointment
- Key personal information, including major stresses or recent life changes
- All medications, vitamins, herbal remedies and supplements that you regularly take
- Questions to ask your doctor, from most important to least important in case time runs out
Basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is causing my symptoms?
- Does having cysts 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 take home? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask questions anytime you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Be prepared to answer questions that your doctor may ask, such as:
Nov. 09, 2012
- When did you first notice the cyst or lump?
- Have you noticed a change in the size of the cyst or lump?
- What symptoms have you experienced, and how long have you had them?
- Do your symptoms occur in one or both breasts?
- Have any symptoms changed over time?
- Have you experienced any breast pain? If so, how severe is your pain?
- Do you have a nipple discharge? If so, in one or both breasts?
- How does your menstrual cycle affect the cyst or lump?
- When was your last mammogram?
- Do you have a family history of breast cysts or lumps?
- Have you previously had a breast cyst or lump, or a breast biopsy?
- Do you have a personal history of precancerous or cancerous breast lumps?
- Non-cancerous breast conditions. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_6X_Non_Cancerous_Breast_Conditions_59.asp?sitearea. Accessed Sept. 18, 2012.
- 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.
- Salzman B, et al. Common breast problems. American Family Physician. 2012;86:343.
- Evening primrose oil. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Sept. 19, 2012.
- Understanding breast changes: A health guide for women. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/screening/understanding-breast-changes. Accessed Sept. 18, 2012.
- Laronga C, et al. Breast cysts: Clinical manifestations, diagnosis and management. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Sept 18, 2012.
- Gallenberg MM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 11, 2012.
- Pruthi S (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 11, 2012.
- Ferrara A. Benign breast disease. Radiologic Technology. 2011;82:447M.
- Pearlman MD, et al. Benign breast disease. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2010:116;747.
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