Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice a lump or any other unusual change 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 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 results to your new appointment or request that the office where your first evaluation was performed send the results to your second-opinion doctor.

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

What you can do

  • Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, and for how long. If you have a lump, your doctor will want to know when you first noticed it and whether it seems to have grown.
  • Write down your medical history, including details about prior breast biopsies or benign breast conditions with which you've been diagnosed. Also mention any radiation therapy you have received, even years ago.
  • Note any family history of breast cancer or other type of cancer, especially in a first-degree relative, such as your mother or sister. Your doctor will want to know how old your relative was when he or she was diagnosed, as well as the type of cancer he or she had.
  • Make a list of your medications. Include any prescription or over-the-counter medications you're taking, as well as all vitamins, supplements and herbal remedies. If you're currently taking or have previously taken hormone replacement therapy, share this with your doctor.

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:

  • Do you have a breast lump that you can feel?
  • When did you first notice this lump?
  • Has the lump grown or changed over time?
  • Have you noticed any other unusual changes in your breast, such as discharge, swelling or pain?
  • Have you gone through menopause?
  • Are you using or have you used any medications or supplements to relieve the symptoms of menopause?
  • 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?

If your biopsy reveals LCIS, you'll likely have a follow-up appointment with your doctor. Questions you may want to ask your doctor about LCIS include:

  • How much does LCIS increase my risk of breast cancer?
  • Do I have any additional risk factors for breast cancer?
  • How often should I be screened for breast cancer?
  • What types of screening technology will be most effective in my case?
  • Am I a candidate for medications that reduce the risk of breast cancer?
  • What are the possible side effects or complications of these medications?
  • Which drug do you recommend for me, and why?
  • How will you monitor me for treatment side effects?
  • Am I a candidate for preventive surgery?
  • In general, how effective is the treatment you're recommending in women with a diagnosis similar to mine?
  • What lifestyle changes can help reduce my risk of cancer?
  • Do I need a second opinion?
  • Should I see a genetic counselor?
Aug. 15, 2014