Start by first seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. If you're diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, you'll be referred to a doctor who specializes in treating cancer (oncologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Consider taking a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For inflammatory breast cancer, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Do I have inflammatory breast cancer?
- Has my inflammatory breast cancer spread beyond my breast?
- Do I need more tests?
- Can I have a copy of my pathology report?
- What are my treatment options?
- What are the potential risks of each treatment option?
- Can any treatments cure my inflammatory breast cancer?
- Is there one treatment you feel is best for me?
- If you had a friend or family member in my situation, what would you recommend?
- How much time can I take to choose a treatment?
- How will cancer treatment affect my daily life?
- Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may allow more time later to cover other points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
Mar. 23, 2012
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Breast cancer. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Feb. 9, 2012.
- Inflammatory breast cancer: Questions and answers. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/IBC. Accessed Feb. 9, 2012.
- Dawood S, et al. International expert panel on inflammatory breast cancer: Consensus statement for standardized diagnosis and treatment. Annals of Oncology. 2011;22:15.