The Bottom Line: Sister Mary Joseph’s nodule is a metastatic cancer of the umbilicus that is typically associated with adult cancers of the gastrointestinal tract and ovary (Albano and Kanter, 2005). It is a rare but important physical finding and is a sign of advanced stage of malignancy (Tso et al, 2013).
References: Albano EA, Kanter J. Sister Mary Joseph’s Nodule. N Engl J Med. 5 May 2005;352(18):193.
Tso S, Brockley J, Recica H, Ilchyshyn A. Sister Mary Joseph’s Nodule: an unusual but important characteristic of widespread internal malignancy. Br J Gen Pract. 2013 Oct;63(615):551-552. Doi: 10.3399/bjgp13X673900.
Summary: The condition is named after Sister Mary Joseph (1856-1939), a surgical assistant for Dr. William Mayo, who noted the association between paraumbilical nodules observed during skin preparation for surgery and metastatic intraabdominal cancer confirmed at surgery (Albano and Kanter, 2005).