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Photo of two female torsos in black dresses holding pink ribbons on each other’s breasts.
Figure 8.1 Fighting Breast Cancer One in eight persons assigned female at birth worldwide will be diagnosed with breast cancer. In 30 percent of these people, the breast cancer will develop metastatic disease. Nurses play an important role in prevention and screening education about breast cancer. (credit: “Women Holding Pink Ribbons” by Anna Tarazevich/Pexels, CC0)

Disorders of the breast can affect people of all ages throughout their lifespan. Some of these changes are normal, age-related changes; others are profoundly life altering, such as a new diagnosis of breast cancer. Because of this, changes to the breast tissue can be extremely anxiety producing for the person who detects them. The nurse plays a vital role in providing education on preventive care and breast health, as well as providing direct nursing care for patients with both cancerous and benign (noncancerous) breast conditions. Most importantly, the nurse provides support, advocacy, and holistic care to the people they care for.

This chapter begins with a discussion of benign breast conditions. It reviews each of these conditions in detail, including the signs and symptoms, diagnosis, medical management, and nursing care. Finally, the chapter discusses holistic care of the patient with breast cancer, including the signs and symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment modalities of breast cancer, as well as the best ways to provide education and support for patients and their families. Finally, the chapter reviews medical and nursing care for the patient recovering from a mastectomy.


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