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FAQs & Patient Resources

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How do I perform a breast self-exam?

A breast self-exam is a way of becoming familiar with how your breasts normally look and feel.  Breast self-exam has not been demonstrated to improve survival from breast cancer, and, in fact, increases the number of biopsies performed with no cancer found.   It is still considered important for women to be able to detect new lumps in the breast should they occur.  The steps to perform breast self-exam are available from the following web site: breastcancer.org

What if I find a lump?

Although breast lumps are common, it's important to have any breast lump evaluated by a doctor, especially if it's new and feels different from surrounding breast tissue. Early evaluation is essential. Learn more at breastcancer.org.

When should I start getting mammograms?

Breast cancer screening involves mammograms.  A mammogram is an x-ray study which gives physicians the opportunity to see the breast tissue.  Obtaining mammograms regularly is important so that changes are more easily identified.  The current guidelines for obtaining mammograms is available from the American Cancer Society here: cancer.org

How do I read my pathology report?

A pathology report is a description of the tissue removed during a breast biopsy.  A summary of how to interpret the report is available here.

What is does staging mean in my cancer diagnosis.

After a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, doctors will figure out whether it has spread, and if so, how far. This is called staging. The stage of a cancer helps determine how serious the cancer is and how best to treat it. You can learn more about staging at cancer.org.

Should I get genetic testing?

While most breast cancers occur spontaneously, some breast cancers are due to genetic factors.  Under certain circumstances, you or your family members may decide to undergo genetic testing to evaluate your risk.  An excellent summary of which genes are involved and when to obtain genetic testing is available from cancer.gov, and from the Komen foundation, komen.org.