Have you noticed a change in your breasts? Symptoms like lumps, pain, discoloration, and nipple discharge are signs that you need a doctor’s attention. The question is: which type of doctor should you see first? What’s the difference between a family practice doctor, a gynecologist, and a breast care specialist?
Don’t wait, schedule your appointment
There is not a wrong place to start, as long as you schedule an appointment as soon as you discover something unusual in your breasts. Early detection is the key to favorable outcomes for benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) breast issues.
Whom Do You Call?
In many cases, a gynecologist or family practice doctor will detect a breast abnormality during a routine exam or mammogram before a woman notices this on her own. However, when women notice changes in the way their breasts feel or look, they may not be sure which conditions different medical professionals can diagnose.
Internal/Family Medicine Doctor
An internal medicine doctor, also called a family practice doctor, treats patients with everything from the common cold to back pain. They don’t typically perform gynecological exams. Instead, they refer patients to a gynecologist for pelvic exams or other female-specific health concerns. However, some family medicine doctors will conduct a breast exam as a part of their full annual health evaluation.
If an internal medicine doctor discovers a lump or gets abnormal results back on a mammogram, he or she will refer the patient to a breast care specialist.
A gynecologist is a physician who specializes in women’s health. A lot of women, especially those who are young and in good health, only visit a gynecologist. It’s common for young women to see their physician just once a year for an annual gynecological exam. At that time, they will have a pap smear, a breast exam, and a mammogram if they are old enough.
If a routine mammogram shows something abnormal, the gynecologist will notify the patient and then refer her to a breast care specialist.
Breast Care Specialist
Generally, when something has changed in a patient’s breast, all roads lead to a breast care specialist. After an internal medicine doctor or gynecologist discovers something abnormal in a patient’s breast, they refer the patient to a breast specialist for a diagnosis. In most cases, the patient will already have had a mammogram. The breast care specialist will perform further tests to determine whether the patient’s lump or other symptoms are signs of benign breast disease or breast cancer.
A breast care specialist will typically perform an ultrasound and, if warranted, an ultrasound guided biopsy to diagnose the abnormality. Patients may also choose to undergo genetic testing to learn about their predisposition for cancer.
If the specialist determines that removing breast tissue is warranted, he or she will then perform breast surgery. If the tissue is cancerous, the breast specialist will make a determination about whether a referral to a medical oncologist and/or a radiation oncologist would be beneficial to the patient.
Breast Care Specialists of Carolina
Breast Care Specialists of Carolina is dedicated to treating you as a person, not just your breast symptoms. Dr. Thomas is passionate about creating personalized treatment plans that suit a patient’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. As a specialist in breast cancer treatment and hidden scar surgery, Dr. Thomas is committed to helping patients go on to live rich and fulfilling lives. If you have questions or concerns about your breast health, visit www.bcscarolina.com or call us at (704) 769-3800.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed by our writers
belong solely to them and do not represent
LKNConnect.com, its publisher or its staff.