The Five Breast Cancer Warning Signs Women Are Missing

There’s more to breast cancer than finding a lump, and new research carried out by Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCCC) revealed 93% of adults can’t identify other, lesser-known symptoms

Experts have said this is “very concerning” as most breast cancers don’t present with lumps that can be found via a physical examination or by touch.

If lumps are felt, this can indicate a fast-growing or advanced-stage cancer that may be less treatable.

What are the signs people are missing?

The lesser-known symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • a retracted, inverted or downward-pointing nipple

  • breast puckering (an indentation that appears when you raise your arms)

  • loss of feeling in part of the breast

  • pitting/thickening of the skin on the breast

  • nipple discharge

In the OSUCCC survey, just 31% of respondents recognised a retracted, inverted or downward-pointing nipple as a symptom of breast cancer.

And less than half of survey respondents were aware of loss of breast feeling (41%), pitting/thickening of the breast skin (45%) or nipple discharge (51%) as concerns worthy of medical attention. 

Worryingly, among respondents, 75% of women and 91% of men didn’t believe they would get breast cancer.

This is despite the fact that one in seven women in the UK will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Breast cancer in men is less common – there are around 370 men diagnosed each year in the UK.

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths for women and one of the leading causes of death in women under 50, which is why knowing how to spot the other signs of the disease is so important.

According to OSUCCC, women are unsure when they should go for screenings and how often they should be getting checked out. 

In the UK, women are invited to begin their routine screenings from age 50-53. These are repeated every three years until the age of 70.

Ashley Pariser, a breast medical oncologist and director of breast cancer survivorship services at OSUCCC, said: “The best way for us to find breast cancer early is for women to present as soon as they notice a change, ideally even before they see a change.

“So that’s why we recommend screening mammograms for those who qualify if we want to find breast cancer early.”

The American College of Radiology and American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists recommend beginning screening at age 40 for people of average risk.

Catching breast cancer early greatly increases the chances of recovery. According to Cancer Research UK, almost all women will survive for five years or more if diagnosed early. However, the odds decrease to three in 10 women who are diagnosed at later stages.

You can access breast cancer screenings in the UK if you’re under 50 and are experiencing symptoms. If you’re concerned, don’t wait. Get checked out today.