A possible breast cancer warning sign

October 8, 2010 3:13:52 PM PDT
Colleen Latray and her family all take an active role in the foundation that Latray started two years ago. Not too long before, Latray was surprised by her image in the mirror.

"I raised my arm and I noticed an indentation all underneath my breast, but immediately I did not think breast cancer," said Latray.

But Latray had breast cancer, and the indentation in the skin under her breast was the tipoff. They were dimples formed as the growing cancer pulls on tiny ligaments connecting it to the skin.

"The way that can happen is by having a tumor that is close to the skin, or having one that is larger and occupying space and pull it that way," said Dr. Alexandra Heerdt of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Doctors also feel dimpling may come from blocked lymph nodes causing excess fluid in the breast.

Your doctor may order a mammogram to find the reason for the dimpling. It may not be a cancer. Benign things such as large cysts may cause dimpling.

Women themselves can help by examining the breasts once a month, says Dr. Heerdt. Women should undress to the waist, raise the arms to stretch the skin, and then with hands on hips, pull in the arms to contract the chest muscles.

"That may then cause some subtle changes in the skin," said Dr. Heerdt.

After breast surgery, chemo and radiation, Latray started the Dimple Awareness Foundation to help women save their own lives. Their motto- dimples belong on golf balls, not women.

"If they know not only a lump but a dimple could be a sign and they get detected early, then that may help with survival," said Latray.

Find more information at www.dimplesawarenessfoundation.org.