Study Finds Non-Lump and Non-Breast Symptoms Occur in 1 in 6 Women With Breast Cancer

November 15, 2016
Lisa Schulmeister, RN, MN, APRN-BC, FAAN

Non-lump and non-breast symptoms of breast cancer occur for 1 in 6 women with breast cancer. For those women, patient intervals to a diagnosis of breast cancer were 1.5 times and 2 times longer.

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.