Forms & Information

Ask An Expert

After breast cancer: Preventing lymphedema

Lymphedema may affect up to 60 percent of women after breast cancer treatment. This abnormal accumulation of fluid, or “edema,” is caused by a blockage of the lymphatic system. Often first noticed as a swelling, heaviness or tightness in the arm, hand, wrist, fingers, breast or torso on the same side as the affected breast, it can happen right after surgery or radiation, or years later.

Ask an Expert: Alcohol and breast cancer risk

Q: I enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner each night and thought it was good for my health.  Now I hear having a glass of wine each day can increase your risk of developing breast cancer.  Is that true?

Answer from the expert staff of the Ruth J. Spear Breast Center at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center:

Ask an Expert: Benign breast lumps and breast cancer risk

Q. I recently had a benign breast lump removed. It turned out to be a “fibroadenoma,” and my doctor said it was totally benign. Still, I’m worried – does this mean I’m at an increased risk of breast cancer?

Answer from the expert staff of breast cancer research at the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center at Providence Portland Medical Center:

Ask an Expert: Breast cancer growth rate

Q: How long does it take for breast cancer to grow? My doctor just examined my breasts a month ago (no lumps), and today I found a lump. Is it possible that breast cancer could have developed so quickly?

Answer from the expert staff of breast cancer research at the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center at Providence Portland Medical Center:

Ask an Expert: Breast self-examinations

Q. I’m a young woman who tries to do breast self exams (BSE's) every month. But I often put them off because they make me so nervous. I just heard that not all health care organizations recommend monthly BSE's. What do you say?

Answer from the expert staff of breast cancer research at the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center at Providence Portland Medical Center:

Ask an Expert: Can vitamin D prevent breast cancer?

Q: “A friend forwarded an article to me suggesting that vitamin D can reduce the risk of getting breast cancer. Is this true?”

Answer from Alison Conlin, M.D., medical oncologist, Providence Cancer Center:

Ask an Expert: HRT for breast cancer survivors

Q. I am a breast cancer survivor. Is it safe for me to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT)?

Answer from the expert staff of breast cancer research at the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center at Providence Portland Medical Center:

Ask an Expert: MRI screening for breast cancer

Q: Are MRI's better than mammograms for detecting breast cancer? Should I be asking my doctor for an MRI with my annual exam?

Answer from the expert staff of breast cancer research at the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center at Providence Portland Medical Center:

Ask an Expert: Soy and flax in hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer survivors

Q. If a hormone-positive breast cancer survivor wants to be proactive in her cure, should she avoid/limit as many phytoestrogens as possible, or just soy and flax, which seem to be high in these estrogen mimics?

Answer from Miles Hassell, M.D., director of Providence Integrative Medicine Program at Providence Cancer Center: 

Ask an Expert: Tamoxifen vs. Arimidex?

Q: What can you tell me about Arimidex vs. tamoxifen? Should a person on tamoxifen switch to Arimidex? And is there any benefit to taking Arimidex after five years on tamoxifen?

Answer from the expert staff of breast cancer research at the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center in the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute at Providence Cancer Center.

Ask an Expert: When is nipple discharge a concern?

Q: “I am concerned about some discharge from one of my breasts. If I squeeze the nipple, I get a dark greenish fluid. Sometimes it also occurs spontaneously. I mentioned this during my last physical exam, but my mammogram appeared to be OK. Should I do anything else, or just wait for my next mammogram? If it’s nothing to be concerned about, what is causing it?”

Ask an Expert: Why aren’t breast cancers taken out immediately?

Q: “It has been two weeks since I was diagnosed with infiltrating ductal carcinoma, and I have not had my MRI, PET, CT or follow-up. Everyone says, ‘You have time.’ How do they know I have time? How do they know that my cancer cells aren’t dividing right now? Why aren’t breast cancers taken out immediately and patients treated for any cancer spread right away?”

Forms Instructions

New Guidelines for Mammography Screening

Breast health experts at Providence Health & Services recognize the importance and complexity of counseling women on breast health and screening recommendations. In November 2009, the US Preventive Services Task Force issued updated guidelines for breast cancer screening. These new recommendations have been met with uneven acceptance from various foundations, professional organizations and breast health providers.

We have reviewed these new recommendations carefully and have engaged a number of concerned providers, physicians and women’s health advocates in order to gain consensus around this important issue. In general, Providence endorses the thorough, professional and evidence-based effort put forth by the USPSTF and recognizes these are difficult issues to analyze.

Request a Mammogram Appointment

Most health insurance plans cover mammography expenses. Financial counseling is available for those without insurance.

Proprietary Health Article

Breast cancer chemoprevention in the spotlight again

After a tentative start, chemopreventive therapies might return to the forefront.  A recent international study reports promising results. – By Ali Conlin, M.D., medical oncologist

Mammography FAQ

Answers to frequently asked questions about the mammogram procedure.

Vitamin D and breast cancer: Is there a link?

Studies have provided conflicting results, but here’s what we know so far. – By Ali Conlin, M.D., medical oncologist

Recommended Resource

National Lymphedema Network

The National Lymphedema Network (NLN) is an internationally recognized non-profit organization founded in 1988 to provide education and guidance to lymphedema patients, health care professionals and the general public by disseminating information on the prevention and management of primary and secondary lymphedema.