A six-year-long breast cancer study by doctors at PD Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, has found that breast cancer can be detected without a lump in the breast. Conducted with 56 patients, the study found that nipple discharge could be an early warning of the disease.
Breast cancer was detected in 32% of the 56 patients having nipple discharge with the help of breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), an imaging technique.
"This study underlines the fact that it is possible to detect the beginnings of breast cancer without any obvious lump or mass in the breast," said Dr Vinay Deshmane, breast cancer surgeon, Hinduja Hospital, who spearheaded the study.
Of the 18 patients detected with the disease, the cancer was not detected in 11 when they were examined using conventional methods - clinical examinations, mammography and ultrasound. Thus, 61% of the breast cancer patients would have gone undetected on standard evaluation, pointed out Deshmane.
Doctors found breast MRI to be the most sensitive in identifying abnormalities in milk ducts.
"Nipple discharge could be an indication of some change in a concerned milk duct in the breast and needs to be investigated," said Dr Arun Kurkure, breast cancer surgeon, Breach Candy Hospital, and managing trustee of the Indian Cancer Society.