- Question from Trudy: I didn't find a lump, but a dimple. Is this common?
- Answers - Cecilia M. Brennecke, M.D. We talked about what you feel with the self-exam, but an important part is to look in the mirror and look for a dimple. The breast should be outwardly round—it should curve outward and not pull in. A dimple is a pulling in of the skin, and it may occur when you raise your arm or lean forward. When you lean forward and raise your arm, the breast should stay outwardly round; it should not pull back in. That may be a sign of cancer, and it should be checked.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. If you've had breast surgery before and you have some scars, you might find that the breast will pull in around a scar. Of course, this is a different situation. Anything that is new or different about your breast is important to make note of. You may also see changes in the color of your breast, such as pinkness or redness. You may see a rash on your breast. Some women may notice that their nipple is getting crusty or irregular. You may also notice a discharge out of the nipple. All of these changes are important to bring to the attention of your doctor. Another important finding is enlargement of the breast. There is a very unusual type of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer that involves enlargement of the breast, pinkness or redness of a significant part of the breast, or thickening of the skin, and only half the time is there a lump to be felt.
- Cecilia M. Brennecke, M.D. We should stress here that breast enlargement alone is not necessarily a sign of inflammatory breast cancer. I see a lot of women who are worried about a change in breast size, and inflammatory cancer is rare. If the breast doesn't have any of those other features, if it still looks soft and pale and the color is normal, there may be nothing to worry about.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Breast Cancer Screening featured Cecilia M. Brennecke, M.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about mammograms, ultrasound, MRI, breast self-exams, physical exams by a doctor, and other topics related to breast cancer screening.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in July 2003.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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