October 7, 2022

3 Conditions You Might Mistake for Cancer

  • April 5, 2014
  • 4 min read
3 Conditions You Might Mistake for Cancer

Someone rightly said, “People live with cancer than they die from it”.  Cancer is one of those conditions which are often associated with fear and even stigma.  The good thing about increased expansion of online medical information in recent years is it has made people aware of their health and diseased conditions. But on the other hand its tendency to make people over diagnose their symptoms to misleading conditions is certainly a matter to think about. Autopsy studies in Asia and Europe have shown 36% of cancers to be undiagnosed and apparently harmless and reported identifying them would just lead to over diagnosis rather than useful medical care.  Thousands of queries in the form of “I have this symptom, is this cancer?” have been popping online forums and ‘answers websites’ daily.  Hopefully this article will put some relief to those types of posts.

#1: Torus Palatinus

Adapted from Wikimedia Commons file

These are the congenital non cancerous bony outgrowths of about 2 cm diameter usually present around midline of hard palatine. It mostly manifests as a non tender and asymptomatic lump except phonatory disturbances, troubles involving mastication, mucosal ulcerations have also been observed in some cases. It is observed that most of the people having torus aren’t aware of it. There exists increased risk of experiencing cancer phobias after he/she notices it. Palatal tori are usually a clinical finding that does not require any treatment. Surgeries to reduce amount of bone present are required in extreme rare cases. These are common in Asian and Native American people, and twice more common in females.

#2: Duct ectasia of breast

Adapted from Wikimedia Commons file

Mammary duct ectasia occurs whenever there is widening of ducts benath the nipple and duct wall thicknens with presence of fluid on the duct. It is usually asymptomatic. Symptoms if present include nipple retraction, inversion, pain with bloody and/or greenish black sticky discharge. The chance developing duct ectasia increases in age and the condition is usually self limiting. Mammary duct ectasia is one of the conditions that can mimic breast cancer and  isn’t the risk factor for breast cancer.

#3 Globus hystericus

Adapted from Wikimedia Commons file


It typically manifests as a non-painful  “lump in a throat” sensation and is often associated with anxiety and emotional distress. Globus mostly results from inflammation of pharynx and associated muscles due to Cricopharyngeal Spasm, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), loss of esophageal motility etc. The tightness of throat muscles is responsible for the appearace of its symptoms. One may also feel mild  chest tightness. Swallowing can be performed normally. It often resolves itself but yet  standard protocol for its diagnosis and management is lacking. Proton Pump Inhibitors  have been commonly used for management of this condition followed by  Anti Depressants.


  1. Kaatsch P, Sikora, E, Pawelec, G (June 2010). “Epidemiology of childhood cancer”. Cancer treatment reviews 36 (4): 277–85.
  2. Tori Mandibular, Maxillary, and Palatal. Study guide for Oral Pathology students at the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry- http://dentistry.ouhsc.edu/intranet-web/Courses/OD8502/tori.html , Accessed 2014-03-09
  3. García-García AS, Martínez-González JM, Gómez-Font R et al. (2010) Current status of the torus palatinus and torus mandibularis. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal15 (2):e353-60
  4.  Seah YH.(1995).Torus palatinus and torus mandibularis: a review of the literature. Aust Dent J. 40(5):318-21.
  5. Mammary Duct ectasia. Mayo Clinic- http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mammary-duct-ectasia , Accessed 2014-03-09
  6. Nipple Problems and Discharge. John Hopkins Health Library-http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/breast_health/nipple_problems_and_discharge_85,P00156 , Accessed 2014-03-09
  7.  Bong Eun Lee, Gwang Ha Kim(May 28, 2012). Globus pharyngeus: A review of its etiology, diagnosis and treatment. World J Gastroenterol.18(20): 2462–2471
  8. Globus Hystericus – Lump In The Throat, Nexim Research http://www.nexiumresearch.com/2004/11/15/globus-hystericus-lump-in-the-throat/  , Accessed 2014-03-09


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.