Hold Up—What Looks Like Chest Freckles Can Actually Be Rare Breast Cancer

Updated 06/16/17
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This season, it's important to remember to apply sunscreen and strap on a straw hat to protect your skin from the sun. But there is something else you should be doing that's just as (if not, more)—important: monitoring chest freckles and breast skin. Rebecca Hockaday found a seemingly normal-looking freckle on her breast at the end of summer in 2013 and thought it was just a totally benign occurrence from exposure. "Honestly I thought they were sun spots," she told Today. "Never in a million years did I think, okay, this is going to be cancer."

A biopsy revealed that the 35-year-old mother of two had inflammatory breast cancer, which is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that accounts for 2% of breast cancer cases. IBD doesn't manifest like usual symptoms of breast cancer, which include the lump in the breast detectable by fingers or a mammogram, shared Jean Wright, MD, of the Johns Hopkins Breast Cancer Program. Rather, it can show up as skin changes in the breast of the skin, possibly dimples like an orange peel, or redness and tenderness.

The big telltale sign is that it comes on quickly, so if you notice changes that occur within a month, definitely get them checked out by a dermatologist. "If women see a rash on their breast that doesn't go away within one to two weeks, especially after the use of a cortisone cream, then they should see their dermatologist," said Cameron Rokhsar, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.

So be extra careful, and monitor your skin this summer—here the safest nontoxic sunscreens on the market.

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