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Three-Steps To Early Breast Cancer Detection

  1. Monthly breast self-examinations (BSE) starting at age 20. Become familiar with the usual appearance and feel of your breast so that is is easier to notice changes in the breast from one month to another. If you menstruate, the best time to do BSE is 2 or 3 days after your period ends, when your breasts are least likely to be tender or swollen. If you no longer menstruate, pick a day such as the first day of the month to remind yourself it is time to do BSE.
  2. Clinical breast exams by a trained medical professional every 2-3 years beginning after age 40.
  3. Mammography screening every year after age 40 (if there is a history of breast cancer in the family, you may need to get mammogram earlier and more frequently).

Complementary and Alternative Methods (Therapies)

American Cancer Society
Complementary and Alternative Methods (Therapies)

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), “complementary” and “alternative” are terms used to describe a number of products, practices, and systems that are not part of mainstream medicine. They include things like herbs and dietary supplements, body movement, spiritual approaches, pills, extracts, and creams or ointments; and may be done by a person with formal education and training, such as art therapy. Others may be recommended by the person who is selling the product in a store or on the Internet, such as herbs or other dietary supplements.  Questions ACS suggests you ask about alternative or complementary treatments are:

  1. What does the treatment claim to do?  Does it claim to cure cancer?
  2. Is it supposed to help your medical treatment work better, relieve symptoms or side effects?
  3. Does the method require that you give up regular medical treatment?  If so, will it affect your chances for cure?
  4. Is the practitioner willing to communicate with the primary care physician to treat you?
  5. What is known about the safety of the treatment?  Could it be harmful or interact badly with your other medicines or supplements?
  6. Have scientific studies or clinical trials been done to find out whether this treatment works?
  7. Have the findings from the studies been published in trustworthy journals and reviewed by other scientists in the same field?  Is information promoted in scientific journals?
  8. What are the credentials of those supporting the treatment?  Are they recognized experts in cancer and complementary medicine?
  9. How much does the treatment cost?  Will your insurance cover it?

Questions to Ask the Medical Social Worker

1. How can I get assistance for:

  • Medical bills,
  • Prescription drugs, and
  • Transportation to/from the doctor for visits, chemo, radiation?

2. How can I have a home health care worker assigned?

10 Questions to Ask the Radiation Oncologist

  1. What is the goal of radiation therapy?
  2. Does radiation affect fertility?
  3. What are the risks and side effects?
  4. Where do I go for radiation therapy?
  5. How long does each session last?
  6. How many weeks does treatment last?
  7. Does radiation therapy make me radioactive?
  8. What should I avoid during treatment?
  9. Should I change my diet or lifestyle?
  10. Does radiation therapy affect having breast reconstruction?

10 Questions to Ask the Cancer Surgeon

  1. Why are you recommending this procedure?
  2. Would you recommend this to your mother, spouse, sister or daughter?
  3. What are the risks?
  4. How do they compare with the benefits?
  5. How do I prepare for surgery? What type of anesthesia will I have?
  6. What happens during and right after surgery?
  7. Who do I talk to about breast reconstruction?
  8. How long will I be in the hospital? Are there any complications?
  9. When can I go back to work and resume normal activities?
  10. What are the risks of lymphedema?

Before surgery, your surgeon should provide:

  • Specific instructions to follow in the days before surgery
  • An overview of the surgical procedures
  • Information about recovery and follow-up care

After surgery, you should watch for complications such as infection or lymphedema, swelling in your arm or hand.  Call your doctor immediately if you see signs of swelling, a build-up of fluid, redness or other symptoms of infection.

10 Questions to Ask the Medical Oncologist

WebMD Medical Reference
Breast Cancer: Questions to Ask Your Breast Cancer Doctors

Fully informed patients are often happier with their treatment. To help you get the answers you need, print out these questions to ask your medical oncologist, your surgeon and your radiation oncologist.

  1. Why are you recommending this therapy?
  2. Would you recommend this to your mother, spouse, sister or daughter?
  3. What are the risks?
  4. Are there other ways to treat the cancer?
  5. Where do I go for chemotherapy or hormone therapy?
  6. Will I be able to drive myself home after treatment, or do I need help?
  7. How long does the treatment last? What are the risks and side effects?
  8. Will my hair fall out? Will it grow back?
  9. What about premature menopause and infertility?
  10. What should I avoid during treatment? Should I change my diet or lifestyle?