A surgeon offers a guide to talking to a doctor about breast cancer.
Although a woman has a 12.5 percent chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime, relatively few are prepared to discuss their own breast health with their doctors. Goodson (The Blue Eyed Girl, 2014), a Harvard Medical School graduate and breast cancer expert, aims to give women the information they need to have productive conversations with their physicians and make informed decisions about their health. The updated second edition of the book is divided into three sections: questions for healthy women to ask their doctors, questions to ask if a mammogram or exam reveals a possible problem, and questions to ask if one has been diagnosed with cancer. Each section covers common concerns, from “Do I need a mammogram?” to “Should I join a clinical trial?” Goodson’s answers to these questions are clear and precise, as he distills complicated medical concepts and terminology to their essentials. Particularly useful are a discussion of current breast cancer screening recommendations and a review of the most up-to-date treatment options. He also helpfully cuts through some of the misinformation about breast cancer and risks, clarifying that while “most risk factors are useful for the scientific study of breast cancer…they have very limited meaning for an individual woman.” (In other words, women shouldn’t panic about the latest study they read about in a newspaper.) Throughout this brief but comprehensive manual, Goodson stays focused on his ultimate goal of empowering patients to make wise, informed decisions about their care. He reminds women that they can seek second opinions after a diagnosis and that they can typically wait several months to consider their treatment options without endangering their health. Less attention is paid to coping with the emotional aspects of a cancer diagnosis, though the author is keen to bust the myth that positive thinking will speed cancer recovery, noting that “you will do best if you acknowledge your own feelings” rather than trying to suppress fear or anger.
A balanced, informative handbook appropriate for any woman concerned about her breast health.