What You Need to Know about Your Breasts: Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book

Phyllis Johnson Health Guide

    Your praise about the knowledgeable information the patient experts provide at the breast cancer site on HealthCentral is always welcome.  I'm sure I speak for PJ Hamel, as well myself, in saying your feedback keeps us going and helps us improve our answers.


    However, we have a little secret.  We do not know all the answers!  We are not doctors, and treatments have changed since we were diagnosed.  We do our best to educate ourselves and to keep up with the latest research and treatments.  However, when your question or comment shows up on our computer screen, we do not always know the answer off the top of our head.  We may look at earlier share posts we have written, go to a trusted Internet source, or check a reference book to find the facts we need.

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    For years my main "go to" reference has been Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book by Susan M. Love and Karen Lindsey.  When I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) in 1998, I went straight to the book store looking for information.  Although there were dozens of books related to breast cancer, none of the ones in the store listed inflammatory breast cancer in the index or explained that breast cancer doesn't always start with a lump.  


    Then a friend gave me her copy of Dr. Love's book.   Although it had only a couple of pages about IBC, the explanation was clear and finally gave me some of what I needed to know about this rare form of breast cancer I had never heard of.  The detailed information about breast cancer treatments helped me understand the basics.  That was the second edition.  I've bought each new edition as it has come out.  Most big book stores and libraries will have a copy.


    I love this book because it is the only one I have found that includes information about healthy breast development, non-cancer breast problems, and breast cancer.  The end of the book has a glossary explaining cancer terms and appendixes with useful resources.  The explanations are clear for people who do not have a medical background.  Simple line drawings illustrate complicated surgical procedures and basic science concepts.  Extensive notes give citations to the research data for people who want to dig deeper.  The notes are tucked in at the end of the book, so they don't slow down the reading.  A comprehensive index helps me find what I need faster than I can on my computer.


    However, in the last couple of years, I have hesitated to use the fourth edition for certain types of information.  It was becoming dated because of the rapid changes in cancer research and treatment.  That is why I am so thrilled that the fifth edition has now been released.  The new edition has about a hundred new pages.  One example of the changes is that the fourth edition has no information about the triple negative subtype, but the fifth edition explains it.


    If you have recently been diagnosed, you might want to use the pathology checklist designed for the patient to fill in her own information.  It will keep all your medical information handy and will help you know what to ask.  


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    Whether you want to know if the lump under your eleven-year old's nipple is normal, whether breast reduction surgery is safe, or how to decide the type of breast cancer surgery you need--Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book, 5th edition has answers.  If you buy only one book about breast health, this is definitely the one you want.



Published On: January 30, 2011