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The First Sign of Breast Cancer Isn’t Always a Lump

While many may book in with their local GP after finding a lump in their breast, one study is urging woman everywhere to keep an eye out for a few other unsuspecting symptoms of cancer.

The research, conducted by University College London, has found that one in six women (17 percent) diagnosed with breast cancer first seek consultation after experiencing health indicators other than a breast lump. In the study, which was presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference in Liverpool, researchers examined the data of 2,300 British women diagnosed in 2009 and 2010.

They discovered that while most women with breast cancer sought help quickly after noticing abnormalities, those who experienced “non-lump” symptoms were more likely to delay seeking consultation for as long as 12 days — almost twice as long as it took for women with a lump to make an appointment. What’s more, they found that an alarming 15 percent of women waited three months.

“Our research shows around one in six women diagnosed with breast cancer have symptoms other than a breast lump,” says Monica Koo, lead author and researcher in cancer epidemiology at UCL. 

“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.”

What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?

Besides a breast lump, which 83 percent of diagnosed women brought to their doctors, women should also seek professional advice for:

  • Nipple abnormalities including redness, crusting or clear/bloody discharge (seven per cent)
  • Breast pain or discomfort (six percent)
  • Breast skin abnormalities (two percent)
  • Breast ulcerations (one percent)
  • Swelling or lump in the armpit (one percent)
  • Back or muscular pain (one percent)
  • Breathlessness (less than one percent)
  • Changes to the contour or shape of the breast (less than one percent)

Early detection is vital and can save lives. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, wish to find out more, or want to book in for a check-up, visit your GP today.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Now to Love.

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