Breast symptoms are a common cause of anxiety among women of all ages, with breast cancer as the potential cause underlying the stress associated with breast symptoms. Common breast symptoms include breast lump, breast pain, unusual discharge from the nipple, deformities, skin changes, and asymmetries of the breast and nipple. Any of these symptoms may in fact be associated with breast cancer or may be an indicator of cancerous or precancerous changes. Any new breast symptoms should be discussed with your general practitioner. Breast symptoms can be reliably assessed by following the principles of ‘triple assessment’. A specialist breast surgeon’s assessment may be necessary if your general practitioner thinks it is appropriate.
Benign breast diseases
Majority of breast diseases are benign in nature, especially among younger women. A variety of infection and inflammation can occur in lactating and non-lactating women. Most of these conditions can nowadays be treated without the need to undergo surgery under the care of a breast specialist. Fibrocystic disease, benign breast lumps, and incidentally found indeterminate lesions are common causes of concern in young age. Appropriate workup under a specialist, including sampling of concerned tissue, serial follow-up, or occasionally surgery, may be needed to manage these conditions.
Malignant breast disease
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Australia excluding skin cancer. Even though incidence of breast cancer is increasing, results of breast cancer treatment have been improving in the last few years. Malignant disease includes not only true invasive cancers but also a spectrum of preinvasive diseases and rare tumours. Management of any of these malignant or potentially malignant conditions is best carried out under the care of a multidisciplinary team. Thanks to the results of the worldwide breast cancer research, treatment options are rapidly improving in breast cancers. No single specialist can deliver comprehensive and individualised care that a breast patient can now have. As such, these conditions are best managed under the care of a breast specialist who works within a multidisciplinary team.
Thyroid and parathyroid diseases
Thyroid and parathyroid glands are hormone-producing glands located in the neck. Diseases of these glands can lead to over or under production of respective hormones (thyroid hormone, calcitonin, and parathyroid hormones). Benign and cancerous growth can occur in these glands. Symptoms associated with these conditions can be varied and generalised. Medical and surgical management options exist for many of these conditions. Traditional open surgery or modern minimally invasive surgical options can be used in carefully selected cases.
Common general surgical conditions
Abdominal wall hernias, skin- and soft tissue-related problems, and intra-abdominal conditions related to the appendix or gall bladder are very common. Surgical treatment is often necessary for most of these problems.