Approximately one in six women diagnosed with breast cancer report to their doctor 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 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 Koofrom 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 aredelaying going to their doctor with symptoms of breast cancer," said Karen Kennedy, Director of the The NationalCancer Research Institute (NCRI).
"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," said Kennedy.
"With a disease like breast cancer, it's essential to bediagnosed as early as possible so that a treatment plan can be developed and started. 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," she said.