Women May Not Recognize Breast Cancer Symptoms

A study published in the December issue of the British Journal of General Practice suggests that women who delay reporting of breast cancer symptoms to physicians may not recognize certain symptoms as potential indicators of cancer. The study’s lead author explains that, “Symptoms which fail to match expectations of breast cancer may contribute to the delay in seeking treatment.” Burgess’ solution: “The presenting symptoms of breast cancer may need to be broadened.”

The symptoms at issue are inverted nipples, puckering or dimpling of the breast, and discoloration of the breast that is red-orange peel like in appearance (see photos below). According to Feminist Majority Foundation Medical Director Beth Jordan, M.D., women presenting with these symptoms may have cancer that is already far developed and need to be treated immediately. While acknowledging that the benefits of breast self-exam are hotly debated, Jordan suggests that women perform monthly breast self-examinations in order to increase their chances of detecting breast cancer in its early stages.

For more information on breast cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Information Center.

Examples of inverted nipple, dimpled and discolored breast tissue. Click for larger image.


Reuters Health, 1/3/02; Feminist Majority Foundation

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