News reader Kristen Dahlgren reveals she was diagnosed with breast cancer after spotting this lesser-known symptom

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News reader Kristen Dahlgren was diagnosed with breast cancer in September. [Photo: Getty]
News reader Kristen Dahlgren was diagnosed with breast cancer in September. [Photo: Getty]

News reader Kristen Dahlgren was diagnosed with cancer after spotting a “dent” in her right breast.

The NBC News reporter noticed the lesser-known symptom on her 47th birthday in September while getting ready to meet friends, Today reported.

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Covering a hurricane in North Carolina at the time, her husband nagged her to get the dent checked.

With a recent mammogram coming back negative, Mrs Dahlgren went for a second and was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer just days later.

Still battling the disease, she is sharing her story to raise awareness of the less common signs of the condition.

The NBC News reporter spotted an unusual "dent" in her right breast. [Photo: Getty]
The NBC News reporter spotted an unusual "dent" in her right breast. [Photo: Getty]

Mrs Dahlgren had just returned from maternity leave in November 2016 when she was sent to interview a doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

While there, she was told how around one in six women are diagnosed with breast cancer after presenting with a symptom other than a lump.

The reporter interviewed a woman who was diagnosed with a stage-three tumour after insisting on a second opinion when her breast changed shape.

“I remember thinking the story would save lives,” Mrs Dahlgren said. “I had no idea the life it would save would be my own.”

Years later, she initially put off getting the dent checked, blaming her busy schedule.

After being nagged by her husband, Mrs Dahlgren had a breast screening between filming and was diagnosed a few days later.

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Since then, “life has been filled with doctor appointments, chemotherapy and, yes, tears”.

Mrs Dahlgren believes if she had not been told about lesser known breast-cancer symptoms, she may never have got checked.

She has since learnt mammograms are “only 87% effective and are less sensitive in women like me with dense breast tissue”.

According to the American Cancer Society, mammograms do not spot around one in five breast cancer cases.

Women with dense breasts may be more at risk of a false negative result, when it incorrectly suggests no tumour is present.

Dense breasts have lots of fibrous tissue - which gives them their size and shape, and glandular tissue - which produces milk, but little fat.

Ms Dahlgren, who is having chemotherapy, hopes that by sharing her experience, others may be more aware of changes to their breasts.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

One in eight women in the UK and US will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives, statistics show.

Symptoms can vary widely, from lumps to skin changes, while some sufferers develop no warning signs at all, according to Breastcancer.org

In certain cases, a lump may be too small to feel, highlight the importance of regular mammograms.

READ MORE: Woman learns she has cancer from photo at tourist attraction

With a woman’s breast cancer risk increasing with age, all those aged 50-to-71 who are registered with a GP in the UK are invited for a mammogram every three years.

Scientists are looking into whether younger women could also benefit. Women as young as 47 are therefore being invited for a screening in some areas of the country as part of a trial.

Lumps can be painless or tender, hard or soft, uneven or rounded.

Other less well known symptoms include:

  • Swelling

  • Skin irritation

  • Dimpling

  • Pain of the breast or nipple

  • Inverted nipples

  • Red, scaliness or thickening of the nipple or surrounding skin

  • Nipple discharge that is not breast milk

  • A lump in the armpit

All the above can also be a sign of less serious cysts or infections but should be promptly checked by a doctor to be safe.

Breastcancer.org encourages women to check themselves once a month to help spot any tumours early.

The NHS has more information on the disease.

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