#BreastCancer: Women visiting gynaecologists for breast lumps, delaying cancer treatment

Oncologists have found that with the lump in a breast many women are going to a gynaecologist who is not trained to diagnose breast cancer. In around 5 to 10 per cent of cases, it then causes a delay in diagnosis

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In order to reverse the trend, experts point out that women should see an expert to avoid misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis of breast cancer.

Lumps can occur in the left or right breast, or in both breasts. There are many types of a breast lump, most of which are harmless.

Doctors diagnose breast cancers more often in the left breast than the right. That said, around 80 per cent of breast lumps turn out to be noncancerous.

A 45-year-old woman Meena Deshmukh (name changed), noticed a lump in her breast. She went to see a gynaecologist who did not suspect it to be a cancer lump. It took nearly two years for Meena to go and see oncologist, to be eventually diagnosed with breast cancer. But by that time, the cancer had reached an advanced stage.

Just like in Meena’s case, many unsuspecting women make the same mistake and end up paying a heavy cost for a minor error.

Dr Anupama Mane, an oncologist at Jehangir hospital Pune, said, “Like the case of Meena we get many such patients who come late. Around 10 to 15 per cent of patients go and see a gynaecologist when they notice a lump in the breast. Gynaecologists are not trained to diagnose cancer-related lumps. There are around 5 per cent cases who lose crucial early detection time.”

“Delay in diagnosis, leads to delay in treatment, which leads to delay in recovery and as a result it also means a shorter life span,” she added.

Doctors suggest that the moment when a woman notices a lump in breast she should consult an expert like an oncologist or an oncologist surgeon.

A breast lump may appear near the surface of the skin, deeper inside the breast tissue, or closer to the armpit area.

People should see their doctor for any changes or lumps they find in their breast. However, it is advised that women must consult an oncologist and not a gynaecologist, as the latter is not well-trained enough to identify certain symptoms and changes which might point out to breast cancer.

Dr Minish Jain, another oncologist from Pune, said, “Timely diagnosis is important in cancer cases. A person should go to an expert immediately. Only a trained expert can have a high suspicion and can diagnose correctly.”

It is especially important for people to seek medical attention if they have a breast lump and any of the following warning symptoms of breast cancer:

  • a hard lump inside the breast, near the collarbone, or under the arm
  • swelling, redness, or rash on the breast skin
  • dimpling or puckering of the breast skin
  • changes in the size or shape of the breast
  • changes in the shape of the nipple
  • nipple turning inward, or retraction
  • unusual nipple discharge
  • a new lump that does not go away after one full menstrual cycle
  • unintentional weight loss