3 weeks ago I found a painful lump in my right breast, it was located just below the nipple area. Saw GP straight away who diagnosed a cyst. I've never had one before and although only 51 I went through early menopause around 45.
I was given antibiotics and the pain did go away over the course of the two weeks between appointments. Went back on Friday and GP said she was sure it was just a cyst and sent me on my way saying that should anything change to come back.
I know the chances are that it is a cyst but I am filled with the memories of my friend from school dying of cancer aged 47 after doctors kept diagnosing her with piles for months when it was in fact cancer by which time it was terminal. She was a single mother with two young sons.
I am not sleeping and it's keeping me awake because I am too a single parent to young children. How can the GP be sure it's a cyst? Should I have been referred on to see the breast clinic?
Yes, you should go back and insist on being referred. It probably IS a cyst, but I don't think GPs can diagnose this for certain just by palpating. Normally a painful lump does not tend to be cancer, but this is a generalisation- there are women who have had a painful lump that has been cancerous. You definitely need to be referred so they can do a mammogram, biopsy etc. Sometimes a cyst might also be concealing cancer that is underneath.
I have just been in the same situation as you. Breast cyst / infection... antibiotics for a week ... lump and discomfort still there the next week.... GP has referred me to breast clinic. I have an appointment on Tuesday.
I am 37, non smoker, non drinker etc, no family history. But they are taking it seriously. They should do the same with you.
As a doctor who has done breast clinics I agree that you should be referred for a triple assessment with breast specialist exam ultrasound and needle aspiration to look at the cells under the microscope. GP review is inadequate.
Go back and say you are still worried and that you want a referral. I've been referred 3 times for lumps that were probably cysts and were found to be cysts. My Gp has always referred me if they haven't gone in 2 or 3 weeks and the breast clinic have said it was the right thing to do.
Medics are really good at knowing what they feel. I had a lump that I was told by my doctor was probably fibroids. I was told by the consultant it was very unlikely to be malignant. The screening showed them both right.
But despite them both being confident, they still referred for a mammogram.
So take heart, she is probably right. But yanbu to want a further check. Could you maybe ask for an appointment with a different doctor, they might be more open to referring?
OP, your GP is being negligent and not following NICE's own guidelines on management of breast lumps. ALL breast lumps, regardless of whether they are cystic or hard to palpation must be referred to a fast track 2 week wait breast cancer clinic. These guidelines are produced on the basis that a small proportion of breast cysts turn out to be malignant.
So book an appointment with your GP tomorrow, and demand to be referred to a 2 week wait clinic as per the NICE guidelines he/she should be following. They're here, so you can print them off and take them with you to the appointment:
And if they argue that it's a cyst, take along any of a number of studies (like this one) which point out the small proportion of breast cysts that turn out to be malignant and how these should be treated with suspicion, particularly in postmenopausal women: