Most women know to alert their doctor if they notice a lump on their breast. But a viral photo shared by an Australian woman is a sobering reminder that there are other breast cancer symptoms to look out for as well.
"I felt no lump. The GP felt no lump," wrote Kylie Armstrong of Melbourne on her Facebook page last week. "However, she listened to me when I said my breast looked different to usual and when I raised my arm I could see very, very feint [Sic] dimples on the underside of my breast."
Armstrong's doctor first sent her to get a mammogram, and then an ultrasound. The second scan confirmed Armstrong's suspicion that something was wrong: It detected cancer "deep in the breast close to the muscle."
"These 3 dimples have turned my world and my families [Sic] world upside down," Armstrong wrote. "I am sharing this because I hope I can make people aware that Breast Cancer is not always a detectable lump."
Armstrong's photo has received more than 130 comments so far, many of them from other breast cancer patients who said they also noticed unusual dimples before their diagnosis.
While these days, a formal monthly breast self-exam is considered optional, doctors urge women to develop a general awareness of their breasts. "That means becoming familiar with the normal feel of your breasts," Holly J. Pederson, MD, director of breast services at the Cleveland Clinic, previously told Health. For example, you could start massaging your breasts in the shower on a regular basis, she suggested. The idea is to know your body, so you detect any changes that don't seem quite right.
In addition to dimpling, there are a few other lesser-known symptoms you shouldn't ignore. Speak to your doc if you notice any of the following: red or scaling skin on your breast; a change in skin texture (for example, larger pores); tender nipples that don't occur around your period; swelling or shrinking on one side of the breast; a nipple that turns inward; or spontaneous nipple discharge (if you're not breastfeeding or pregnant).
"Please go straight to your GP if you notice ANY change in your breast," Armstrong wrote. "It could save your life."