Don’t Wait if You Suspect Breast Cancer
Feeling a lump in your breast that you are pretty sure wasn’t there the previous week can be a terrifying feeling, but visiting the doctor or getting a mammogram confirming the diagnosis may feel like a ton of bricks hitting you. While hearing the words out loud that you have breast cancer is something you may want to avoid at all costs, your problems may be much worse if you wait before getting a formal diagnosis and starting treatment.
Recent studies of women with early stage breast cancer show that those who waited more than 30 days for surgery experienced a 9-10 percent increase in their risk of death. Women with the earliest stages of breast cancer had the most pronounced risk. Most women feel that once a diagnosis of breast cancer has been made, that it is only a matter of time before their first surgery.
However, delaying chemotherapy after surgery was not found to have the same ill effects, as women who waited up to three months after surgery to begin chemo had the same mortality rates as those starting immediately. However, three months appears to be the magic number, as those waiting longer to begin their chemotherapy treatment raised their odds of dying from 27 percent to 34 percent.
While there may have been external socioeconomic factors that contributed to a lessened series of care throughout their treatment period, women who were highly proactive and aggressive with their breast cancer treatment tended to fare better.