I'm well, but I'm concerned

When you’re concerned about breast cancer, asking the right questions can give you the information you need to take control of your health.

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Questions to ask your doctor:

  • What are the risk factors for breast cancer?
  • What symptoms should I look for that may be a sign of breast cancer or another problem?
  • What are steps I can take to lower my chances of getting breast cancer?

I am under 40:

  • Should I start getting regular mammograms now?
  • Do you recommend that I do breast self-exams? If so, how often? Can you show me how it’s done? What do I feel for?

I am over 40:

  • How often should I have a mammogram? For instance, once a year, or every two years?
  • I am over 45 and my doctor/gynecologist told me I have dense breast tissue:

    • Should I schedule more frequent mammograms, or make sure that I get a digital rather than analog, or film, mammogram?
    • Should I arrange regular ultrasounds, or other screening tests, as an added precaution?

    I believe/know that I am at a higher risk of developing breast cancer:

    • Do you think that genetic testing would be appropriate for me?
    • What are the limits of the test?
    • What about preventive, or risk-reducing, surgery?
    • What about medicines to reduce risk?
    • Can you explain the benefits and risks of each of these alternatives?
    • Does being at a higher risk for breast cancer mean I am at risk for any other types of cancer or disease?

    I am over 60:

    • What check-up plan do you recommend for me, and why?

    Next steps

    1. Get regular check-ups and screenings. It’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations for breast cancer screening. That may mean both physical examinations as well as imaging tests, such as mammograms and ultrasounds.

    2. Get a second opinion. If you’re considering pre-cancerous surgery, treatment, or genetic testing, you should get a second opinion from another doctor before taking action.

    3. Check your insurance plan. Before getting genetic testing, check with your insurance plan to see if it’s covered by your plan.

    4. Know your course of action. If you do decide to get genetic testing, make sure you have a plan in place should you test positive.

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