GP's dismissing my complaints about a breast problem for nearly 4 years

AT404AT404 Member Posts: 13
When will the GP's start to take patients seriously when they complain about medical problems.  I visited my GP over 3.5 years ago, after 2 complaints he told me "I promise you you don't have breast cancer".  Saw another female GP - same practice - she said "cant see anything wrong"  My left nipple was inflamed, and I have pulsating pain and sharp dagger like pain running from nipple to arm pit.

January 2016 I saw another GP - different practice - by now there was a crusty discharge.  She peered at my breasts and said she can't see a thing wrong.  Gave me cortizone cream to rub on.

Saw another GP same practice in March this year, she didn't see anything wrong either until I told her look at the crust and there is a small lump behind the nipple.

She send me for a untrasound - came back clean (like the mammogram and unltra sound from prior years)

However, she cared enough to send me to a surgeon who did a biopsy and diagnosed lobular carcinoma.  Now I have had breast cancer operation and had to have lymph nodes removed.  Had this been diagnosed earlier, the lymph nodes will still be there.  Lobular carcinomas are rarely  seen on mammograms or ultrasounds.

DOESN'T GP's know that all cancer is not visible on diagnostic scans?

Am I alone with this frustrating experience?


  • primekprimek Broken HillMember Posts: 4,115
    No you are not alone but perhaps a letter to all the GPs involved telling your story will heightened their awareness of possible cancer and in future they will refer to a breast surgeon earlier. So glad you persisted and finally got a diagnosis.

    We can't go back and change the past but hopefully can assist in changing the future. Right now though you need your energy on the now, your treatment recovery and acceptance of your changed self. We are here to help where we can. Kath x
  • Summerhill38Summerhill38 VictoriaMember Posts: 713
    Hi @AT404
    You will be pleased to know that your story is not unusual but thank goodness you knew your body and were brave enough to keep looking for answers.
    One male GP told me if he took notice of every woman who complained about their breasts he would be cutting a forest with the referrals !  His thought was simple - our boobs change during the menstrual month so don't worry !
    To hear your female GPs also took no notice of you is an added worry.
    They would still have taken lymph nodes for testing anyway.  At least it is now sorted and you have been treated - look forwards now to a healthy future.  Good luck.
    Summer  :-)
  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 1,462
    When I went to my GP (slight pinkness and  tenderness), she had a look then uttered the best possible line, " We need someone who knows more about breasts than I do".

    GPs can't know everything and the most likely cause may be the correct one. It's also possible that you had a physical reaction to minute changes early on, given that a mammogram and ultrasounds failed to detect anything - which would reassure most. Good for you for keeping at it, but do tell those GPs what has happened, as it will inform them in the future. Best wishes.
  • CassinaCassina Member Posts: 62
    I had a similar story however not from the GP from the Breast Cancer Institute who refused to treat me as the mammogram was clear and also the ultrasound. The MRI showed DCIS, and surgery followed. I cannot believe I could be refused treatment and lucky the GP insisted and followed up to make sure. He said it was a rare cancer and lucky he insisted. The MRI also did not show the Her  positive cancer and even the surgeon was amazed. I am very lucky however another GP diagnosed Thrush. We do not always fit the mould and we do have a sense of something wrong... so we need more general knowledge about breast cancer detection
  • HITHIT Perth WAMember Posts: 261
    Its a very hard situation, you can see all the different points of view.  GPs who can't know everything, test that normally show these things not showing anything.  First reaction for me is wouldn't it be great to have a accurate blood test that would show cancer presence - but straight after that I realise they would then have to find were the cancer is.... AFraser sounds like she has a great doctor - who will admit when she doesn't know!!  I had an acquaintenace at work who after finding out I had had treatment for BC mentioned to me that she often has a discharge from her nipples - she goes to her local GP and has had tests done previously - I almost blurted out how many times I have read on this site about just such things happening - but caught myself and just told her to go to a breast clinic as they really knew what they were doing.  She left so I don't know if she did.  Definitely advise those Docs what happened.  At least they may do things differently from now on!!
  • ZoffielZoffiel Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 1,631
    Lobular carcinoma (my unwelcome pet) is a shit of a thing to diagnose.

     My first cancer 11 years ago, saw me go down a similar path. It just doesn't show up on scans like DCIS does. It took nearly two years before I cracked it and demanded the lump that really didn't  look like lump was removed. 40mm invasive cancer. 10 years later, same story. I still can't believe it took four years for me to demand the removal of yet another 'non issue scar tissue'. No fool like an old fool, but the bloody thing didn't ring any bells for anyone but me.
    Lesson learned, listen to your inner bell. Which can be quite exhausting.
  • CassinaCassina Member Posts: 62
    From my experience the Breast clinics are overloaded and miss lots, in some ways yes, we need to listen to this inner Bell! And yes it is exhausing and confusing, I know now, but did not know when they first said 100% not cancer. Now I know better, however the first message was the one I wanted to hear.
  • HITHIT Perth WAMember Posts: 261
    I am glad I hit on a great breast clinic then, my bells were not ringing at all.  In fact I fully believed I didn't have cancer!!  After going to local GP and given referral for a fine needle biopsy, I rang around to get apt for pathology.  3 weeks was the earliest one.  Then I just happened to read on the net about the The Mount breast clinic (Perth) - got an apt in 1 week (Thurs) with a breast doc, she knew straight away, core biopsy on lump, fine on nodes all same day, official diagnosis next Monday, Bone, CT scans Tuesday, Surgeon Wednesday, operated following Wednesday, oncologist 2 weeks later, port in, then chemo 4 days later ..... .... I didn't realise until a couple of months later that not only was cancer in nodes but also in bloodstream.  So much for not having cancer... I don't need inner bells, I need an outer sledgehammer... 
  • AT404AT404 Member Posts: 13
    Hi every one,
    Thank you for all your comments, at least I don't feel like a total fool.  We don't have a "breast clinic" where we live, so I had to rely on GP's allowing the next step.  I have had all the scans, and tests.  Fortunately at this stage nothing has spread.  Starting radiation treatment soon, then those "horrible pills".   I just hope that this doesn't come back.  I am horrified at the amount of cancer, not just breast cancer that is raging through ladies over 60.  Probably younger as well, I just know the ones over 60 since I am 68!
    Again, thank for your comments.
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