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Women with ‘non-lump’ breast cancer symptoms delay seeking treatment

Around one in six women diagnosed with breast cancer go to their doctor with a symptom other than a lump, say researchers from University College London.
non lump cancer

Around one in six women diagnosed with breast cancer go to their doctor with a symptom other than a lump, say researchers from University College London who studied the data of more than 2,300 women diagnosed with breast cancer in England in 2009-2010.

The researchers found that although most women with breast cancer sought help quickly, those with non-lump symptoms were more likely to delay going to the doctor compared with women with a breast lump alone.

A lump is the most commonly reported breast cancer symptom. Other non-lump breast symptoms that may be a sign of cancer include nipple abnormalities, breast pain, skin abnormalities, ulcerations, shape abnormalities, and an infected or inflamed breast.

More than 53,600 breast cancers are diagnosed

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Around one in six women diagnosed with breast cancer go to their doctor with a symptom other than a lump, say researchers from University College London who studied the data of more than 2,300 women diagnosed with breast cancer in England in 2009-2010. 

The researchers found that although most women with breast cancer sought help quickly, those with ‘non-lump’ symptoms were more likely to delay going to the doctor compared with women with a breast lump alone. 


Women with a breast lump and ‘non-lump’ symptoms were also more likely
to delay seeking help, the researchers said. Picture: Alamy

A lump is the most commonly reported breast cancer symptom. Other ‘non-lump’ breast symptoms that may be a sign of cancer include nipple abnormalities, breast pain, skin abnormalities, ulcerations, shape abnormalities, and an infected or inflamed breast. 

More than 53,600 breast cancers are diagnosed in the UK every year, and there are more than 11,400 deaths from the disease annually. 

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

‘Diagnosing cancer earlier is key to increasing the chances of survival. It’s crucial that women are aware that a lump is not the only symptom of breast cancer,’ said study author Monica Koo. 

The study results were presented at the 2016 National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer conference in Liverpool which took place between 6-9 November. 


Koo MM et al (2016) Typical and atypical symptoms in women with breast cancer: evidence of variation in diagnostic intervals from a national audit of cancer diagnosis. NCRI Cancer Conference Abstracts. tinyurl.com/of8woum 

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