Most women are unaware of the unusual symptoms of a particularly aggressive and deadly form of the disease known as inflammatory breast cancer, says a new US-based survey, which was conducted online among 1,100 US women ages 18 and older, revealed that while 4 in 5 women (78 per cent) recognise a lump in the breast as a sign of breast cancer.
Less than half of women would flag redness of the breast (44 per cent), pitting/thickening of the skin (44 per cent), or one breast feeling warmer or heavier than the other (34 per cent) as possible symptoms of breast cancer; specifically, the rare and highly aggressive form of the disease known as inflammatory breast cancer.
"Women should know that radical changes to the breast are not normal, and breast self-exams are still very important. Some 50 per cent of inflammatory breast cancers are diagnosed as stage 4 disease," said researcher Ko Un Park from The Ohio State University. The disease can occur in any part of the breast and in any molecular sub-form of the disease. It is often misdiagnosed because it mimics symptoms similar to a breast infection.
Those signs include an orange peel-like texture or dimpling of skin; feeling of heaviness; tightening of the skin; engorgement of the breast; and infection-like redness. Park noted that even in the medical community, physicians and providers are not accustomed to thinking about a red breast as a sign associated with inflammatory breast cancer because it is such a rare disease. ALSO READ: Fatigue to Respiratory problems, people suffer at least one long Covid symptoms after infection: Study
"Although inflammatory breast cancer only represents 1 per cent to 5 per cent of all breast cancers in the United States, it is a sneaky disease and challenging to diagnose," Park said.
"It is critical that clinicians have a high level of familiarity with its subtle signs and be prepared to take immediate action to avoid belated diagnosis," Park added.