Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice a lump or any other unusual changes in your breasts.

If you have already had a breast abnormality evaluated by one doctor and are making an appointment for a second opinion, bring your original diagnostic mammogram images and biopsy results to your new appointment. These should include your mammography images, ultrasound CD and glass slides from your breast biopsy. Take these items to your new appointment, or request that the office where your first evaluation was performed send these items to your second-opinion doctor.

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Write down your medical history, including any benign breast conditions with which you've been diagnosed. Also mention any radiation therapy you may have received, even years ago.
  • Note any family history of breast cancer, especially in a first-degree relative, such as your mother or sister.
  • Make a list of your medications. Include any prescription or over-the-counter medications you're taking, as well as all vitamins, supplements or herbal remedies. If you're currently taking or have previously taken hormone replacement therapy, share this with your doctor.
  • Ask a family member or friend to join you for the appointment. Just hearing the word "cancer" can make it difficult for most people to focus on what the doctor says next. Take someone along who can help absorb all the information.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor. Creating your list of questions in advance can help you make the most of your time with your doctor.

Below are some basic questions to ask your doctor about DCIS. If additional questions occur to you during your visit, don't hesitate to ask.

  • Do I have breast cancer?
  • What tests do I need to determine the type and stage of cancer?
  • What treatment approach do you recommend?
  • What are the possible side effects or complications of this treatment?
  • In general, how effective is this treatment in women with a similar diagnosis?
  • Am I a candidate for tamoxifen?
  • Am I at risk of this condition recurring?
  • Am I at risk of developing invasive breast cancer?
  • How will you treat breast cancer if it does return?
  • How often will I need follow-up visits after I finish treatment?
  • What lifestyle changes can help reduce my risk of a cancer recurrence?
  • Do I need a second opinion?
  • Should I see a genetic counselor?

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over points you want to talk about in-depth. Your doctor may ask:

  • Have you gone through menopause?
  • Are you using or have you used any medications or supplements to relieve the symptoms of menopause?
  • Have you had other breast biopsies or operations?
  • Have you been diagnosed with any previous breast conditions, including noncancerous conditions?
  • Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
  • Do you have any family history of breast cancer?
  • Have you or your close female relatives ever been tested for the BRCA gene mutations?
  • Have you ever had radiation therapy?
  • What is your typical daily diet, including alcohol intake?
  • Are you physically active?
Jun. 23, 2011