An Australian woman has shared a message to Facebook in the hope of helping others.
In February, Kylie Armstrong discovered dimples, which had not been there previously, on the underside of her breast. Worried about the change in tissue, she visited her doctor who sent her to get a mammogram and then an ultrasound.
The three subtle dimples under her breast turned out to be a sign of breast cancer.
“This is what my breast cancer looks like,” she wrote on Facebook. “I felt no lump. The GP felt no lump. 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.”
“These 3 dimples have turned my world and my families world upside down,” she continued. “I am sharing this because I hope I can make people aware that breast cancer is not always a detectable lump. Please go straight to your GP if you notice ANY change in your breast. It could save your life.”
Australian breast physician Doctor Sue Fraser told Mashable that Armstrong’s post is helpful in raising awareness that breast cancer can be signified by a range of signs rather than presenting just a lump. She said more can be gained than lost by sharing a photograph like this.
“Anything that raises awareness is good. Some people think breast cancer is just a lump, but in fact that is not true, it can present itself in other ways” she said. “On Facebook, there is always the downside that you might have a whole lot of people getting worried and trotting off to their doctor but it is something that raises awareness.”
Fraser explained dimpling is not as common as a lump, but can definitely be associated with breast cancer. She also noted there are other signs people should watch out for, which include a thickening of an area, changes to the nipple, a nipple rash that isn’t healing, discharge from the nipple, a lump under the arm or a change in the shape of the breast.
“Dimpling is usually a sign something is pulling on the tissue and sometimes a small cancer that is in the breast can alter some of the architecture and attach itself to the skin or it can just make an impression on the tissue that can actually alter the skin,” Fraser explained. “So dimpling can be a sign of breast cancer, and it is an important one and sometimes it is the only symptom.”
Fraser said dimpling is an easy sign to spot, as it is visible, so many women notice it while drying their hair in the bathroom mirror, and that once or twice a month she has a woman present with this symptom only.
She advised anyone who notices any change at all to see their GP, as the worst that can happen is that they waste a small amount of their time. “Even if it is not breast cancer, it is good to be aware of any changes in the breasts. It is best to go and find out that it is okay, then to not go and find out it is something later on,” she said.
In a sad twist, someone continued to report Armstrong’s photograph to Facebook under the classification of “nudity.” According to Armstrong, Facebook did not remove the photograph. Many people have instead praised her for putting herself out there to raise awareness of different signs of cancer.
Armstrong underwent surgery on Mar. 4 to have the cancer removed. “My surgery went well and after a bit of early nausea, I am now recovering well. My family are tired but relieved this part is over,” she wrote.
Hopefully Armstrong going public with her personal struggle will save another life.