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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574

SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.110 n.5 Pretoria May. 2020




Book Review




Handbook for the Management of Breast Cancer in a General Hospital
Ed. by Jenny Edge and Ines Buccimazza
Cape Town: Van Schaik, 2019
ISBN: 9780627036972
epub ISBN: 9780627036989


This timely book promises a text that will help healthcare professionals to deal with the management of breast cancer. It certainly delivers what the editors set out to do, and not only covers the management of breast cancer adequately for the intended readers but also includes treatment of common benign breast conditions. Breast cancer is the leading cancer in women in South Africa, and every healthcare professional is likely to deal with an individual with breast cancer at some time during their career. Whether this is in a personal or professional capacity, this book will prove to be a valuable resource.

In this book, Jenny Edge and Ines Buccimazza have assembled a group of South African authors who collectively have many years of experience in the management of breast cancer. The first three chapters give an excellent introduction to the topic and set the tone for what is to come. Normal development, benign breast conditions, special investigations and diagnostic procedures are all addressed in this section. Chapter 4 is especially exciting, as the author presents his take on the often-neglected area of developing algorithms and referral pathways. We should all acknowledge the importance of a 'breast champion' in smaller district general health facilities. Without these dedicated individuals, it becomes challenging to co-ordinate the care of a patient with breast symptoms. Unco-ordinated care leads to delays in diagnosis and a worse prognosis for patients with breast cancer. The next section covers the initial treatment of breast cancer. The authors have managed to highlight the remarkable recent advances in the management of breast cancer, of which multidisciplinary team management and the evolving role of neoadjuvant chemotherapy are probably the most important. Chapters 13 and 14 look at communication skills and palliative care. In these chapters, the authors have managed to convey the message that breaking bad news badly can have a profound impact on the patient's perception of the healthcare profession. Breaking bad news in a disorderly manner has a long-lasting adverse effect on individuals with newly diagnosed breast cancer. The authors also highlight the fact that multidisciplinary palliative care should be available to every patient with metastatic breast cancer. Chapters 15 - 17 cover survivorship after the initial treatment of breast cancer, and the book concludes with discussion around some different breast conditions, both benign and malignant.

In summary, this book offers a good review of the diagnosis and management of breast cancer and common benign breast conditions. It would be a valuable text for anyone involved in the management of breast disease, and both students new to the topic and specialists revising their current knowledge should find it useful. It is not intended to be an exhaustive text on the management of breast disease, but to provide comprehensive, practical content covering everything a healthcare worker needs to know to offer their patient good, up-to-date treatment for breast cancer. What underpins this book is that it considers the South African context while at the same time upholding quality of care in the management of patients with breast conditions.

Francois Malherbe

Division of General Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

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