Ask the Expert

Our ask-the-expert series will help answer your questions about breast cancer, whether you are newly diagnosed, in treatment or years beyond treatment.

Each month, we ask a breast cancer expert to respond to your questions on a specific topic during an ask-the-expert residency. Answers to select questions will be posted on our website on an ongoing basis throughout the month.


October 1, 2016

Do people in your family have breast cancer, including you? Were you young when you were diagnosed? Does a man in your family have breast cancer?

You may have heard that certain risk factors suggest that the cancer may be related to a gene mutation, an error in a gene’s DNA. Maybe you’ve already had genetic testing and know you carry a mutation. Or, maybe you’ve thought about getting a genetic test, but you’re not sure which kind of test is right for you.

Genetics researchers are constantly finding new connections between the way genes behave and their role in causing breast cancer and other cancers. In October, Living Beyond Breast Cancer expert Marianne Lotito, MS, LCGC, a genetic counselor from Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue, Washington, will answer your questions about what’s new in breast cancer genetic research, what your results may mean, when to get testing, and what to do once you have your test results.

September 1, 2016

You’re the one with breast cancer. But your loved ones are going through this with you, too. On top of worrying about your health, you may worry how the disease will affect your relationships – with your romantic partner, your parents, kids, friends and co-workers.

Nobody understands this better than people who have experienced it themselves. So in September, Living Beyond Breast Cancer presented a panel of women who have been diagnosed with different stages of breast cancer, including metastatic breast cancer. They answered your questions about keeping relationships strong after a breast cancer diagnosis, from talking to your loved ones about how cancer affects your (and their) emotions, and deciding how much to tell neighbors or co-workers about what you’re going through; to talking to kids about cancer, and keeping a romantic relationship going when serious health concerns are taking up so much of your time, energy and money. 

August 1, 2016

Breast cancer can cause extreme tiredness. Its treatments can as well. Insomnia and fatigue associated with breast cancer can leave you with little energy, making it hard to live your life the way you want. People around you may not understand just how exhausting breast cancer and its treatments can be.

In August, Living Beyond Breast Cancer expert Ann Berger, APRN, PhD, AOCNS, FAAN, answered your questions about fatigue related to breast cancer, from why it happens and how to deal with it, to how to talk to friends, family members and co-workers about what you’re going through.

July 1, 2016

Lymphedema is a condition in which extra lymph fluid builds up, causing swelling in tissues under the skin of the hand, arm, breast or torso. It is a common side effect of breast cancer treatment. Whether you are living with this condition or you've heard about it and are hoping to avoid it, you may have questions about lymphedema.

In July, Living Beyond Breast Cancer expert Lori B. Ranallo, RN, MSN, ARNP-BC, CBCN, answered your questions about lymphedema, including how to lower your risk of developing it, how to treat it and how to maintain your quality of life.

June 1, 2016

Many people have decades of life ahead of them after breast cancer treatment is over. Though cancer is in the past, the experience of breast cancer, and the desire to do everything you can to lower your risk of recurrence, is part of your future.

In June, Living Beyond Breast Cancer expert Kathryn J. Ruddy, MD, MPH, answered your questions about long-term survivorship after a breast cancer diagnosis, from follow-up care and fear of recurrence to nutrition, exercise and stress relief.

May 1, 2016

Learning you have breast cancer can be overwhelming. You’re hearing new words, meeting new people and making treatment decisions, all while trying to live your life in as normal a way as possible.

Nobody understands this better than people who have experienced it themselves. So in May, Living Beyond Breast Cancer presented a panel of women who have been diagnosed at different ages, with different subtypes and stages of breast cancer, including metastatic breast cancer. They answered your questions about being newly diagnosed with breast cancer, from talking to others about your diagnosis and putting together a healthcare team you trust, to working through worries and fears and continuing to live well.