Survey Finds Most Women Unaware of the Signs of Aggressive, Deadly Type of Breast Cancer

Further, the survey showed that fewer than half of women would flag redness of the breast, thickening of the skin, or 1 breast feeling warmer and heavier than the other as possible symptoms.

Many women are unaware of the unusual symptoms of a particularly aggressive and deadly form of inflammatory breast cancer, according to the results of a new national consumer survey from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCCC).

“The disease tends to grow rapidly compared to other types of cancer and even with treatment, it tends to recur or come back more often than other types of cancer,” said Ko Un Park, MD, surgical oncologist at OSUCCC–James, in a press release. “That’s why it is so important to recognize the symptoms and bring them to your doctor’s attention so there are no delays in treatment. But unlike other forms of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer rarely begins with a lump, but with certain skin conditions.”

The survey found that approximately 4 in 5 women recognize a lump in the breast as a sign of breast cancer. Further, the survey showed that fewer than half of women would flag redness of the breast, thickening of the skin, or 1 breast feeling warmer and heavier than the other as possible symptoms.

When these symptoms appear, the cancer is already in an advanced stage, which can still be mistaken for an infection before a proper diagnosis is made, according to the researchers.

“Mammograms and ultrasounds may not show an obvious target to biopsy, requiring a more sensitive exam like a breast MRI to help with the diagnosis,” Park said in a press release. “These factors can further delay the diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory breast cancer. Women with a higher risk should discuss with their physicians not only screening mammography, but also potentially the need to expand that screening with additional imaging, such as a breast MRI.”

OSUCCC-James has a multidisciplinary inflammatory breast cancer team comprised of surgical, medical, and radiation oncologists, as well as breast radiologists, plastic/reconstructive surgeons, physical therapists, and nurses. The team designed a formal best-practice clinical decision tree to enable them to respond to potential inflammatory breast cancer cases.

“Our goal is to push these patients to the front of the line, rapidly mobilizing a treatment plan so that therapy can begin as soon as possible,” Park said in a press release. “The team is working with primary care and obstetricians/gynecologists to bring more awareness to this disease and the nuances of diagnosing and treating it.”

REFERENCE

New survey finds many women are unaware of the signs of an aggressive and particularly deadly type of breast cancer. The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. Accessed October 13, 2022. http://james.multimedia-newsroom.com/index.php/2022/10/12/new-survey-finds-many-women-are-unaware-of-the-signs-of-an-aggressive-and-particularly-deadly-type-of-breast-cancer/