Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women excluding skin cancer. Women have many fears and misconceptions about this disease, and media reports sometimes compound this problem. To complicate the issue, scientific controversy has arisen about the benefits of screening mammography and breast self-examination. Concurrently, failure to diagnose breast cancer continues to be the single largest successful malpractice suit. Because of the controversies, morbidity rates, and the litigious environment in the United States, it is even more important for the physician and nurse to stay current on this topic. Knowledge enhances the professionalís ability to clearly communicate the facts to the patient and evaluate her appropriately. A woman empowered with current data can then share in decision-making, based on her particular needs and values.
After completing this activity, the participant should be able to:
- list the major and minor risk factors for breast cancer.
- list the triad of breast cancer screening and detection techniques.
- describe the current mammography and breast exam screening guidelines.
- list important questions to ask and techniques to use in performing a breast history and physical exam.
- describe worrisome characteristics of nipple discharge that raise suspicion about possible breast cancer.
- discuss the different breast imaging modalities and biopsy options.