Claire Warner’s Facebook photo is going viral with a very important message. In an effort to educate women on little-known symptoms of breast cancer, the UK mother of two posted a photo of her left breast on Facebook with an urgent message.
“Please read and, more importantly, look!” she posted last week. “This is a picture of my left boob. The small purplish bruise is where I had a biopsy taken. The minuscule dimple up and to the left of it is a rare and little-known symptom of breast cancer. Blink and you’d miss it. I only spotted it thanks to another post shared by an amazing friend.”
Warner was lucky enough to catch the breast cancer early, but she stresses that without proper knowledge, she never would have known of its existence. “I’m not ill,” she explained. “My only symptom is this dimple.”
Most recognize a new lump or mass as the most common symptom of breast cancer, however, according to the American Cancer Society, “skin irritation or dimpling” is also listed as a symptom. While it’s not common that a dimple is the only visible symptom, it is possible.
“A lot of times, someone will have a mass or something will show up on a mammogram, too,” Brian Czerniecki, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Moffitt Cancer Center department of breast oncology, told SELF. “Then, if you look closely at the surface of the skin, you may see dimpling.”
Leif W. Ellisen, M.D., Ph.D., program director of Breast Medical Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital, explains why dimpling can happen: If a cancerous growth or tumor forms near the skin, it can essentially pull the skin in. “Breast dimpling, or indeed any subtle distortion of the breast, can be an early sign of an abnormal growth in the breast even before a lump can be felt,” he tells SELF. “This happens because cancers in the breast adhere to surrounding tissues, which causes pulling and distortion.” Because breast tissue is normally lumpy, it can be difficult to feel an abnormal lump, Ellisen says. That’s why women may notice dimpling or skin changes before anything else seems off.
Because dimpling is often hard to detect, doctors recommend doing a thorough breast examination in front of a mirror. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, call your doctor immediately. Stay educated and protect yourself.