Kylie Armstrong of Melbourne, Australia took a brave step last Monday when she posted a public photo on Facebook showing her breast. The reason: The three dimples on the lower part of her breast are a sign of breast cancer. “This is what MY BREAST CANCER looks like,” she captioned the photo, the dimples circled in pink.
“I felt no lump. The GP [general practitioner] 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 faint dimples on the underside of my breast,” she writes. “The GP sent me for a mammogram to be sure. It wasn’t obvious on the scan so they sent me for an ultrasound. The ultrasound found the cancer deep in my breast close to the muscle. These 3 dimples have turned my world and my family’s world upside down.”
Armstrong said she posted the photo—which has been shared more than 100,000 times—to show that breast cancer isn’t always detectable by a lump. And she’s right.
“Dimpling might be a sign that there’s a tumor that’s actually pulling on the skin that’s causing the change to happen,” Dr. Andrea Barrio, a breast cancer surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, told SELF. “The most common symptom women have is a breast lump, so most people know to look for a lump in the breast. But even sometimes cancer grows in such a way that you don’t feel a lump, and the way it’s growing causes other changes.”
The CDC lists “irritation or dimpling of breast skin” as a warning sign for breast cancer, along with other signs including changes in the size or shape of the breast and redness on the nipple or breast. In 2012, the CDC estimates that 224,147 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, early detection can save thousands of lives. This means regular mammograms are very important, as well as noting any changes in your breasts.
“There’s been a lot of press about not needing to do self breast exams, but I really do think it’s important to have self awareness about how things might change in the appearance of your breast,” Barrio said. “Just because you see the symptom doesn’t mean you have cancer … but if you have a change in the appearance of your breast you should have it checked out by your doctor.”
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Armstrong hopes with her post, women can get treatment early. “Please go straight to your GP if you notice ANY change in your breast. It could save your life,” she writes. Hundreds have commented on the photo, with some women even sharing their own experience with breast cancer.
On Saturday, Armstrong posted a follow-up, thanking everyone for their support and for sharing her post across the world. She had surgery on Friday to remove the cancer—which she writes went well—and she’s now in recovery awaiting further treatment.
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