Focus on Understanding Breast Cancer: Questions to Ask Your Doctor

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No one knows more about your body than you do – not your partner, not your parents, not even your doctor. So when you talk with a health care provider about your health, remember that you have valuable information to share. You know about changes in your body and about any problems you may be having. Share that information. Open and honest communication between you and your doctor is one of the best ways to make sure you get the care you deserve.

To get the most out of each doctor’s visit, try following these guidelines:

  1. Be prepared. It is often helpful to gather information about your health concerns — from the library (books and medical journals), trusted Internet sites, etc. The more you know, the more comfortable you will be talking to your doctor.
  1. Organize your questions ahead of time. You should be able to talk openly and honestly with your doctor about breast health and breast cancer to make sure all of your questions are answered. To help you get started, Susan G. Komen® has a series of 17 Questions to Ask the Doctor topic cards on a variety of breast cancer issues. Each card contains important questions to discuss with your doctor. Space is provided for you to jot down the answers. Also, be sure to bring a voice recorder to capture your conversation so you can refer back to your doctor’s responses. These questions will help your doctor understand and address your specific concerns. You can download and print these cards to take to your next doctor’s appointment at www.komen.org/questions.
  1. Tell your story. When your doctor comes in, ask if you can take a few minutes to briefly explain your situation and concerns. Be as specific as you can. Then, give the doctor your list of questions and ask them.
  1. Give feedback. If your doctor’s responses were helpful, say so. This kind of feedback will encourage your doctor to talk with you, listen to you and continue to help you. Doctors are just like anyone else; they want to do their job well. That means doing whatever they can to help you stay healthy or to get better. Remember, although doctors may know a great deal about breast health and breast cancer, they may not truly understand or be aware of all that you are going through. You can help your doctor help you by sharing your feelings and concerns.

Learn more: http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/QuestionstoAsktheDoctorPDFDownloads.html?ecid=vanityurl:57 or http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/TalkingWithYourDoctor.html

Focus on Understanding Breast Cancer Risk Factors: Menopausal Hormone Use

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In the past, many women used menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), also known as hormone replacement therapy, to relieve hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. But studies show that use of estrogen plus progestin increases the risk of both developing and dying from breast cancer. Although MHT is approved for the short-term relief of menopausal symptoms, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends women use only the lowest dose that eases symptoms for the shortest time needed.

When women take these hormones (estrogen plus progestin), their risk of having an abnormal mammogram increases within the first year of use and their risk of breast cancer increases within the first five years of use. The risk of breast cancer goes up slightly each year a woman takes estrogen plus progestin. One large study found women who use estrogen plus progestin for five or more years (and are still taking it) more than double their breast cancer risk.

When women stop taking MHT, the risk of breast cancer starts to decline. After about 5 to 10 years, the risk returns to that of a woman who has never used MHT.

Learn more:  http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/PostmenopausalHormoneUse.html