Testing Pre-Mastectomy

The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: November 4, 2010

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

I will have a double mastectomy next week. Someone told me I should get a bone density test and a range of motion (for arms) test. Is that correct?

Answer

Kathryn Schmitz, PhD, MPH, cancer rehabilitation researcher at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

I would very much agree that it is a good idea to get a physical therapy evaluation prior to your surgery. This should, in my opinion, be standard of care for ALL breast cancer patients. Getting a bone density would be ideal, but likely not covered by insurance unless you are over 50. A referral to PT should be covered pretty much universally. If you can be seen by a certified lymphatic therapist, that would be great. To find one in your area, go to www.lymphnet.org. This will really assist that therapist with knowing how you have changed as a result of surgery. It may also help with planning radiation therapy if you have and range of motion limitations.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series, Life After Breast Cancer Webchat. View the entire transcript here.