Start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner if you notice any unusual signs or symptoms that worry you. If your doctor thinks you may have breast cancer, you may 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 well 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, such as not eating solid food for a period of time before your appointment.
- Write down your symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason why you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down your key medical information, including other conditions.
- Write down key personal information, including any recent life changes.
- Make a list of all your medications, vitamins and supplements.
- Ask a relative or friend to accompany you, to help you remember what the doctor says.
- 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 male breast cancer, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What type of breast cancer do I have?
- What is the stage of my cancer?
- Has my cancer spread beyond the breast?
- Can my cancer be cured?
- Will I need more tests?
- What are my treatment options?
- What are the potential side effects of each option?
- Is there a treatment option you feel is best for me?
- How long will cancer treatment last?
- How will cancer treatment affect my daily life?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- Are there any 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 questions that occur to you 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 make time to go over points you want to spend more time on. You may be asked:
Feb. 17, 2015
- What symptoms are you experiencing? How severe are they?
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms? Are they continuous or occasional?
- Have any of your relatives been diagnosed with cancer? If so, what type of cancer and at what age were the family members diagnosed?
- Ruddy KJ, et al. Male breast cancer: Risk factors, biology, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. Annals of Oncology. 2013;24:1343.
- Cameron JL, et al. Current Surgical Therapy. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier Saunders; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 17, 2014.
- Gradishar WJ. Breast cancer in men. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 17, 2014.
- Chavez-Macgregor M, et al. Male breast cancer according to tumor subtype and race: A population-based study. Cancer. 2013;119:1611.
- Male breast cancer treatment (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/malebreast/patient. Accessed Nov. 19, 2014.
- Patten DK, et al. New approaches in the management of male breast cancer. Clinical Breast Cancer. 2013;13:309.
- Distress management. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Sept. 17, 2014.