Millennium Post

1 in 6 breast cancer patients have symptoms other than lump

Nearly one in six women diagnosed with breast cancer go to their doctor with a symptom other than a lump – the most commonly reported symptom, new research has found.

Symptoms, other than a lump, that may be a sign of breast cancer include nipple abnormalities, breast pain, skin abnormalities, ulceration, shape abnormalities and an infected or inflamed breast.

Researchers from the University College London (UCL) in the UK, examined the data of more than 2,300 women diagnosed with breast cancer in England in 2009/10. They found that, although most women with breast cancer sought help quickly, those with ‘non-lump’ symptoms were more likely to delay going to their doctor compared with women with a breast lump alone.

Women with both a breast lump and ‘non-lump’ symptoms were also more likely to delay seeking help.

Women presenting with breast ulceration, nipple abnormalities, breast infection or inflammation, swollen arm or armpit and pain in the armpit were more likely to wait longer than three months to seek help.

“Our research shows around one in six women diagnosed with breast cancer have symptoms other than a breast lump. These women are more likely to delay going to the doctor compared to women with breast lump alone,” said Monica Koo from UCL.

It is crucial that women are aware that a lump is not the only symptom of breast cancer. If they are worried about any breast symptoms, the best thing to do is to get it checked by a doctor as soon as possible,” said Koo.

“Diagnosing cancer earlier really is key in order to increase the chances of survival,” she said. “This research shows that, all too often, women are delaying going to their doctor with symptoms of breast cancer,” said Karen Kennedy, Director of the The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI). 
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