A 32-year-old woman went to an outpatient clinic after months of experiencing tender breast lumps, but doctors noticed something else concerning: benign bumps on her lips.
Those growths ended up being a key symptom of a condition that actually increased her chances of developing breast cancer.
A case study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, shared the woman’s story. She was eventually diagnosed with estrogen receptor-positive invasive ductal carcinoma, a type of breast cancer that forms in the milk ducts of the breast.
The woman, whose name was not released, also had multiple benign growths in her breasts.
The other growths on her lips held a key to her diagnosis. Further genetic testing showed that the woman also had Cowden syndrome, which is a genetic condition associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
People with Cowden syndrome often have multiple non-cancerous growths that can occur anywhere in the body. It’s also been linked to a higher chance of having thyroid, endometrial, and breast cancers.
So, people with the condition should receive enhanced clinical cancer screenings.
“This catches the cancers early at a curable stage,” said Dr. Charis Eng, the chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute.
The woman in the case study underwent a modified radical mastectomy of her right breast and a prophylactic mastectomy of her left breast. It’s unclear how the woman fared after her treatment.
Remember, the American Cancer Society suggests Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year. Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.
Click here to learn more about Cowden Syndrome.
Click here to read the case study by NEJM.