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Breast Cancer Has Symptoms Other Than Just a Lump

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Highlights
  • One in six women diagnosed with breast cancer have symptoms other than a lump in the breast.
  • A rash on or around the nipple, bloodstained discharge from nipples also indicates breast cancer.
  • Women with non-lump symptoms are more likely to put off visiting their doctor.
  • Awareness campaigns need to raise awareness of all of the potential symptoms of breast cancer so that people know how to spot the signs and when to go to a doctor.

Breast Cancer Has Symptoms Other Than Just a Lump

Around one in six women diagnosed with breast cancer go to their doctor with a symptom other than a lump - the most commonly reported breast cancer symptom - according to new research presented at the 2016 National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer conference in Liverpool.

Breast symptoms, other than a breast lump, that may be a sign of cancer (termed 'non-lump' in the study) include nipple abnormalities, breast pain, skin abnormalities, ulceration, shape abnormalities and an infected or inflamed breast.

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Researchers from University College London examined the symptoms of 2,300 women who had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. They found that women with non-lump symptoms were more likely to put off visiting their doctor.

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.
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Swellings in the armpit or an infection of the breast tissue should be checked out. So too should nipple changes - rashes, bleeding or discharge - and any sores on the skin of the breasts.

Dr Karen Kennedy, director of the National Cancer Research Institute, said: "This research shows that, all too often, women are delaying going to their doctor with symptoms of breast cancer.

"This could be because people are simply unaware that breast cancer can present in many different ways, not just through the presence of a lump. With a disease like breast cancer, it's essential to be diagnosed as early as possible so that a treatment plan can be developed and started."

Monica Koo, presenting author based at UCL, said: "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."

"It's 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. Diagnosing cancer earlier really is key in order to increase the chances of survival. Symptom awareness campaigns such as the Be Clear on Cancer campaign should continue to emphasise breast symptoms other than breast lump."

Dr Karen Kennedy, Director of the NCRI, said: "This research shows that, all too often, women are delaying going to their doctor with symptoms of breast cancer. This could be because people are simply unaware that breast cancer can present in many different ways, not just through the presence of a lump. With a disease like breast cancer, it's essential to be diagnosed as early as possible so that a treatment plan can be developed and started."

Source: Medindia

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