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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

versión On-line ISSN 2078-5135
versión impresa ISSN 0256-9574

SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.104 no.5 Cape Town may. 2014




Breast care: A health professional's guide to diagnosis and management of common breast conditions



By Jenny Edge and Dave Woods. Cape Town: Getup Electric Book Works, 2014. ISBN (paperback) 978-1-920218-76-8; ISBN (PDF ebook) 978-1-920218-77-5

This practical book on the management of breast cancer is part of the Bettercare series of books, aimed at addressing the need for continuing education of healthcare workers. The book was inspired by the Breast Course for Nurses, run by Dr Jenny Edge, a general surgeon with a particular interest in breast surgery, at the Christiaan Barnard Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. Her co-author, Professor David Woods, is the founder of the Bettercare series and is a retired neonatologist living in Cape Town.

The book is essentially a series of courses on different aspects of common breast conditions, with learning objectives clearly stated at the beginning of each chapter, along with multiple-choice questions for each chapter at the end of the book. Theoretical knowledge is presented in a question-and-answer format to encourage active participation in the learning process, leading the reader step by step through definitions, causes, diagnoses, prevention, dangers and management of a particular problem. Each chapter closes with a few case studies, allowing the reader to consolidate and apply what they have learnt. The case studies are drawn from common presentation at clinics and hospitals.

The more practical aspects of management are covered in certain chapters that contain skills workshops and readers are encouraged to practise these, preferably in groups. The skills workshops are often illustrated with line drawings, list essential equipment and offer step-by-step instructions on how to perform each task.

There is a final examination that consists of a 75-question multiple-choice exam, managed by the Perinatal Education Programme, and participants need to achieve at least 80% to successfully complete the course, for which they receive a certificate. Although Bettercare courses are not yet accredited for nurses, South African doctors can use them to earn CPD points.

The course starts with the normal breast, including some changes in the breast that may be worrying, carrying on to clinical examination and special investigations. Benign breast changes are covered first, followed by breast cancer and its treatment. Side-effects of treatment are comprehensively covered, as is palliative care.

Although the book is aimed at nurses, its content will be useful for anyone likely to encounter breast problems at any level of practice and should also appeal to undergraduates wanting to improve their knowledge of this very common area of women's health.


Bridget Farham

Deputy editor, SAMJ

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