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Can Fam Physician. 2010 March; 56(3): e126.
PMCID: PMC2837710

Fast facts: breast cancer

Reviewed by Ruth Heisey, MD CCFP FCFP

AUTHORS Michael Baum, Harvey Schipper  PUBLISHER Health Press Ltd, Elizabeth House, Queen St, Abingdon OX14 3LN, United Kingdom  TELEPHONE 44 (0)1235 523233  FAX 44 (0)1235 523238 2005/144 pp/$23.50 


STRENGTHS A thoughtful, thorough overview of breast cancer, from prevention to diagnosis, treatment to supportive care

WEAKNESSES Limited diagnostic algorithms

AUDIENCE Family physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals caring for women with breast cancer

Fast Facts: Breast Cancer is a thorough overview of breast cancer written by 2 experienced clinicians who have both contributed much to the field. The book has an excellent introduction followed by thoughtful discussion of the pathophysiology of this complex disease, and includes a superbly presented and updated evidence-based discussion of the current opinion on adjuvant hormonal therapy.

The absolute risk of breast cancer for various groups is clearly presented, as is the usefulness of risk-reduction strategies. Suggestions for the management of symptoms of advanced cancer patients, such as pain, anemia, hypercalcemia, and others, are included.

Where this book falls short is in the presentation of the various algorithms that inform clinicians of the management of symptoms suggestive of breast cancer. For example, the book advises that all patients presenting with a lump be referred directly to an oncologist, without any further investigation. There is no differentiation between patients who present with a spontaneous nipple discharge and patients with a discharge elicited only by squeezing. Enhancements in these diagnostic algorithms would allow better use of limited surgical oncology resources and would encourage earlier diagnosis of those patients with features suggestive of breast cancer.

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Nonetheless, the book is a good read, with excellent illustrations, clear messages, and many helpful tips. The book introduces the reader to the evidence-based tool “Adjuvant! Online” ( and provides good descriptions and illustrations explaining reconstructive options postmastectomy.

Well priced at $23.50, this book is a good reference to have on hand when a patient with a family history of breast cancer wants to know the likelihood of being diagnosed in the next 10 years, or when your postmenopausal patient with a recent breast cancer diagnosis wants your opinion on the best choice of aromatase inhibitor.

Articles from Canadian Family Physician are provided here courtesy of College of Family Physicians of Canada