Inverted Nipple a Sign of Breast Cancer?

my left breast nipple is dented. i've been ok with it, yet i saw a story in the news that it could be a sign of breast cancer. so now i am really scared! what's the cause of inverted nipples and is it something i need to get checked out right away?

Doctor Answers 14

Not normally a sign of cancer

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Inverted nipples are caused by tightened breast duct tissue and may be due to a variety of reasons, such as genetics, trauma, pregnancy and lactation. Cancer isn't usually a cause. You can see a doctor for a physical examination if you are concerned.

Inverted nipples

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Many patients have inverted nipples from puberty and that is not a sign of anything worrisome. A new onset of nipple retraction could be a sign that there is something going on with the duct systems and could be a signal of something worrisome.  It is best to see an experienced breast surgeon or plastic surgeon with new onset inverted nipple, once the appropriate examination and tests are performed you will rest assured that it is nothing to worry about.  

Inverted Nipples Should be Evaluated.

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Inverted nipples are often benign, particularly if present of a long time.

However, newly inverted nipples require evaluation by you doctor as they may be a sign of breast cancer.

It is prudent to have your breasts and nipples examined on a regular basis, and particularly if changes are noted.

See   for more information on breast examination and breast cancer.

Fredrick A. Valauri, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon

Nipple retraction and inverted nipples

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Inverted nipples on one or both sides are quite common and not typically associated with cancer.  However, some cancers involving the breast ducts can cause retraction of the ducts, leading to nipple retraction.  It is best to speak to an experienced surgeon about the nipple retraction to see if it is cause for concern. 

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Not all inverted nipples mean cancer

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If you have always had an inverted nipple then the chance that this is related to breast cancer is very very slim. If the inversion came about over the course of several weeks or months, then this is reason for concern and you should seek an appointment with a physician.

With breast cancer, inverted nipples can be caused from a growing tumor under the nipple distorting and creating traction on the overlying areolar tissue or breast ductal system. If one has always had a nipple inversion, it is usually from lack of support or lack of a foundation in the breast tissue beneath the nipple. This is more of developmental problem and does not necessarily need treatment unless the appearance is an issue or for hygienic reasons.

Leslie H. Stevens, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Inverted Nipples vs. Nipple Inversion

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I would recommend careful evaluation by a board certified breast surgeon or plastic surgeon.   If you have always had inverted nipples, the chances of breast cancer are extremely low.    However, if the nipple retraction is new, I would recommend an evaluation.

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Inverted nipples

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If your nipple has been inverted since puberty, or since pregnancy, especially after breast feeding, this is not a concern. However, if you have had a recent change with a nipple inverting for no apparent cause, this is a concern. Some women are born with or develop inverted nipples (completely or partially) with puberty.  This is primarily due to short milk ducts inside and below the nipple, and is normal for some women. However, if you have noticed a recent change, I would suggest seeing your primary physician or a breast surgeon to make sure there is nothing abnormal developing in your breast under the nipple.

Connie Hiers, MD
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Inverted Nipples?

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Thank you for the question.

It would be in your best interest to see a physician for consultation;  although rare nipple inversion can be a sign of malignancy of the breast.

Inverted nipples can cause functional problems for women and emotional concerns. An inverted nipple can look flat or a slit like depression or hole at the normal nipple location. There are different degrees of inverted nipples possible. Whether a patient is a candidate for correction of inverted nipples  depends on the  extent of the problem.


Usually correction of the inverted nipples involve division  of the lactiferous (milk ducts). The risks  of the procedure include potential loss of sensation, inability to breast-feed, recurrence of the asymmetry and the potential need for further surgery.

My advice to patients go something like this...  If the nipple is permanently inverted and does not evert  with stimulation, then it is a useless nipple  when it comes to sensitivity and/or breast-feeding. In these  cases correction of inversion is indicated (because the potential gains outweigh the risks outlined above).  On the other hand, if the nipple does evert  spontaneously with  or without stimulation,  then I am more reluctant to perform the procedure given that the risks may outweigh the potential benefits.  At that point, the decision is the patient's to make after careful consideration.

I hope this helps.

New inverted nipple may be a sign of concern

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A newly inverted nipple is a finding which should be evaluated. However, most patients present with a long history of this dating back to or even preceeding puberty. This can be brought to the attention of your primary physcian who may order diagnostic testing or screening or recommend a referral to a specialist.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

New nipple inversion requires medical evaluation

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Chronic nipple inversion is usually a benign condition for which repair can be performed, if desired.

New nipple inversion is sometimes a sign of breast cancer and requires medical evaluation, including physical examination by a general surgeon or plastic surgeon and breast imaging studies (mammography, sonography). 

Last year I had a patient come to office for repair of a newly inverted nipple.  Despite her resistance, I strongly recommended mammography.  The mammogram demonstrated worrisome findings indicative of breast cancer.

If you have a newly inverted nipple, please seek consultation as soon as possible.

Ronald Friedman, MD
Plano Plastic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.