- A 37-year-old woman went to a dentist in India with a painless lump on her right lower jaw.
- Surgeons later diagnosed her with breast cancer, which had spread to the jaw, causing the lump.
A woman who went to the dentist with a swollen jaw and a toothache was later diagnosed with breast cancer, which had spread to multiple parts of her body, according to a report.
The 37-year-old unnamed woman first noticed her jaw was swollen seven months before the dentist appointment, a group of trainee surgeons and medical students wrote in a report published in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science on Friday.
The woman had also noticed that her nipple had become inverted eight months before the appointment, but didn’t know that it could be a sign of breast cancer that requires medical attention, they wrote.
The woman’s case is rare, but draws attention to a possible lack of awareness of breast cancer and its symptoms, according to the report.
As Insider previously reported, breast cancer symptoms can depend on the type of cancer and whether it has spread. Each year in the US, about 264,000 women and 2,400 men are diagnosed with the condition.
According to research cited in the report, tumors in the mouth that have spread from other parts of the body, including the breast, account for only 1% of all tumors found in the mouth, but once diagnosed, less than 10% of those patients survive for more than four years.
Overall, breast cancer kills around 42,000 women and 500 men each year in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
An examination revealed lumps in her right and left breasts
In this case, the dentist extracted the woman’s teeth that had tooth decay — which were causing the toothache — and took a biopsy of the jaw lump. It had features of breast cancer so the dentist referred the woman to surgeons.
The surgeons examined her and found lumps in her right and left breasts and that her right nipple was inverted.
After scans and further biopsies, the surgeons diagnosed the woman with breast cancer, which had started in her right breast and spread to her left breast, jaw, lymph nodes, skull, ribs, spine, clavicle, and the thigh bone of her right leg.
The jaw swelling was treated with radiotherapy and, in July 2019, she started a combination of palliative treatments, that aren’t aimed at curing the cancer, including chemotherapy and a hormone treatment, which helped reduce the amont of tumors in her body.
She will continue to take a hormone treatment until there are signs that her condition is getting worse.
A scan in August 2022 didn’t find any signs of tumors in her breast, according to the report.