What Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer?

August 3, 2011

INFLAMMATORY BREAST CANCER (IBC) is an advanced and accelerated form of breast cancer automatically rated as Stage IIIb that usually is not detected by mammograms or ultrasounds. It requires immediate aggressive treatment with chemotherapy prior to surgery and is treated differently than more common types of breast cancer.

INFLAMMATORY BREAST CANCER (IBC) is an advanced and accelerated form of breast cancer automatically rated as Stage IIIb that usually is not detected by mammograms or ultrasounds. It requires immediate aggressive treatment with chemotherapy prior to surgery and is treated differently than more common types of breast cancer. 

IBC has an extreme high risk of recurrence and a very poor prognosis. It is the most aggressive type of breast cancers.

We have been positively conditioned to the fact that when a woman discovers a lump on her breast she should go to the doctor immediately.

BUT how many people know YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAVE A LUMP TO HAVE BREAST CANCER?

Inflammatory breast cancer usually grows in nests or sheets, rather than as a confined, solid tumor and therefore can be diffuse throughout the breast with no palpable mass. The cancer cells clog the lymphatic system just below the skin. Lymph node involvement is assumed.  Increased breast density compared to prior mammograms should be considered suspicious.

A large percentage of the women (and men) who have inflammatory breast cancer remain undiagnosed for long periods.  The symptoms are similar to mastitis, a breast infection and some doctors, not recognizing IBC, will prescribe antibiotics. If, after a week, the symptoms do not dissipate, a biopsy should be performed!

A surprising portion of young women with IBC had their first symptoms during pregnancy or lactation.  The misconception that these young women are at lower risk for breast cancer and the fact that IBC is the most aggressive form of breast cancer results in many of them having metastases (stage IV) by the time a diagnosis is made.

One or more of the following are Typical Symptoms of IBC:

  • Swelling, usually sudden, sometimes a cup size in a few days
  • Itching
  • Pink, red, or dark colored area (called erythema) sometimes with texture similar to the skin of an orange (called peau d'orange)
  • Ridges and thickened areas of the skin
  • What appears to be a bruise that does not go away
  • Nipple retraction
  • Nipple discharge
  • Breast is warm to the touch
  • Breast pain (from a constant ache to stabbing pains)
  • Change in color and texture of the aureole

THESE SYMPTOMS MAY BE PRESENT IN BENIGN BREAST DISORDERS OR DISEASE

Please check-out these articles more information:

Symptoms of IBC

Please visit the IBC Research Foundation for more information