Neglected Breast Cancer Is an Issue, But It Doesn’t Have to Be

Neglected Breast Cancer Is an Issue, But It Doesn’t Have to Be

Have you ever felt a lump in your breast and ignored it? Noticed a change in your breast and waited months to talk to your doctor? If so, you could be at risk of neglected breast cancer.

Neglected breast cancer is the term for people who have ignored symptoms for weeks, months or even years. It’s a common clinical occurrence in underserved communities, whether in Third World nations or in areas of the United States where women have limited access to screenings, treatment and education.

But it happens in Orange County too. Many educated women who know about breast cancer and its symptoms—and have access to medical experts—allow their fear to take over, and they don’t seek care in a timely manner.

Neglected breast cancer is not new. A 2015 study found that nearly one in five women who discovered a suspicious sign, such as a lump in their breast, did not contact their doctor for at least a month. The same study found that one out of three women experiencing symptoms waited more than three months before seeking medical help; and further, one in 20 women waited six months or longer to get checked by a medical expert.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Early Detection Saves Lives

Did you know that Orange County has a higher rate of breast cancer among women than both the state and national average1? Waiting to get a mammography screening or to see your healthcare provider also increases your risk of metastatic breast cancer (MBC). MBC is breast cancer that has spread to other parts or systems of the body. Also referred to as stage IV breast cancer, it affects approximately 1,000 women in Orange County and an estimated 154,000 across the U.S.2

By knowing your risk, finding out when and how often you should have mammogram screenings and practicing self-exams or having clinical breast exams by a healthcare provider, breast cancer can be detected early. And early detection can make all the difference.

Early Detection Quick Facts

  • Early detection gives doctors more treatment options
  • The 5-year survival rate for localized breast cancer (cancer that has not spread) is 99 percent
  • Breast cancer often presents no symptoms, which is why maintaining a doctor-recommended mammography screening schedule is essential

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Now is the time to talk to your doctor about breast cancer, learn your risk factors, understand screening recommendations and be proactive in early detection.  

The bottom line is: If you notice changes in your breasts, see your physician. The most common physical change you may notice is a breast lump, but see your doctor if you have persistent swelling, skin redness or rash, swelling of your underarm or changes in your nipples. Ask your doctor if you’re due for a screening and discuss healthy habits you can explore, like controlling your weight, avoiding smoking and being physically active.

At City of Hope, our work exploring immunotherapy to treat chemotherapy-resistant cancers, particularly breast cancer, is bringing breakthrough treatments from the lab to the bedside. And with advanced technologies in breast cancer diagnostics, intraoperative radiation therapy and reconstructive aesthetic surgery, we walk with you every step of the way in your journey into survivorship.

Facing an uncertain diagnosis is scary, but you don’t have to face it alone. Our team of experts truly understands your needs and fears and we are here for you. Don’t put your health on hold.


1601 Avocado Avenue

Newport Beach CA 92660

Now open and providing world-class cancer care in Newport Beach, City of Hope’s specialty team includes an internationally recognized researcher in multiple myeloma treatment, a pioneer in kidney and bladder cancer, a leading colorectal cancer expert and researcher, a surgeon specializing in breast surgery and aesthetic reconstruction and a national thought leader in patient education and prevention. City of Hope’s cancer campus in Irvine will bring highly specialized care, clinical trials, precision medicine and early detection closer to home. Housed on 11 acres, it will include Orange County’s only specialty cancer hospital, which will open in 2022.


1 The National Cancer Institute

2 Susan G. Komen Orange County MBC Impact Series