Researchers in the United Kingdom reviewed data from a national UK database to identify presenting symptoms of breast cancer in 2316 women and determine the interval of time that elapsed between initial presentation and a diagnosis of breast cancer. Symptoms were grouped by topography, and subsequently, associations between the 4 most frequent symptom groups and the length of time to diagnosis were examined.
Although a breast lump was the most common symptom (83%) of 56 symptoms identified, non-lump symptoms included nipple abnormalities (7%) and breast pain (6%). Non–breast related symptoms included back pain (1%) and weight loss (0.3%). Women in the “lump only” symptom group had a median patient interval of 7 days to diagnosis. Women in the “non-lump only” or “both lump and non-lump” symptom groups had 1.5 times and 2 times longer patient intervals to a diagnosis of breast cancer.
The researchers concluded that 1 in 6 women with breast cancer in the UK presented with symptoms other than a breast lump, and that a longer time interval to diagnosis occurred when women had less common presenting symptoms. The study abstract is available here