For decades, women have been told to be vigilant for one sign of breast cancer above all others: a lump on the breast. Women are taught how to perform self-exams for lumps as part of breast cancer awareness campaigns.
But the emphasis on breast lumps hides a surprising fact: The first symptom of breast cancer is often something else. In 17% of breast cancer cases, the earliest sign is not a lump, according to a new study.1
Scientist Monica Koo led the research. She is a doctoral candidate at University College London. “It’s crucial that women are aware that a lump is not the only symptom of breast cancer,” she said.
The researchers used data from the English National Audit of Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care. It involved about 2,300 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2009 and 2010.
The researchers noted exactly what symptom caused the women to see a doctor before their diagnosis:
- 83% had a breast lump
- 7% had nipple abnormalities
- 6% had breast pain
- 2% had breast skin abnormalities
- 1% had breast ulcers
- 1% had other symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, back pain, muscle pain, or a lump in the armpit
Most women who noticed a breast lump went to a doctor within a week. But those with other symptoms were twice as likely to wait 90 days or more before seeking medical attention, the study found.
Here’s why this is alarming… If breast cancer is caught right after the appearance of the first symptoms, the five-year survival rate is close to 100%. If a woman waits more than 90 days, the survival rate drops to 72%.2
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Know These Breast Cancer Symptoms
Aside from a lump, here are possible signs of breast cancer:3
- Thickening or swelling of the breast
- Dimpling of the breast or skin irritation
- Red or flaky skin in the nipple area
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk
- Unexplained shrinkage of the breast (especially if on one side only)
- Recent asymmetry of the breasts (It is common for women to have one breast that is slightly larger than the other. But if the asymmetry is recent, it should be checked.)
- Nipple that turns slightly inward or inverted
- Ridges or pitting resembling the skin of an orange
- Lump in the armpit
These symptoms don’t necessarily mean a malignancy. They often signal a noncancerous condition, such as a cyst or infection. But it is always better to see your doctor immediately than to wait. Early detection just about guarantees survival.
And here’s something else you should know about cancer…
A small group of holistic doctors were quietly discovering cancer breakthroughs. Then, when word of their effective therapies started getting out, something terrible started happening… The doctors started disappearing.
Get all the details HERE.
In Good Health,
Executive Director, INH Health Watch