Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC): Rare and Aggressive:
Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare and aggressive breast cancer that can cause the breast to appear red and swollen, giving the appearance of inflammation. In the United States, diagnoses of IBC account for one to 5 percent of all cases of breast cancer. Compared to other forms of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer tends to strike younger women. When IBC is diagnosed, it is found in young African Americans more often than in Caucasians. Men who are diagnosed with IBC are older on average than female patients. IBC is often mistaken for other conditions.
IBC Signs and Symptoms:
Cases of IBC will vary, but there are some common symptoms. You may not have all of these changes, you may not have a lump and IBC may not show up on a mammogram. Some symptoms can signal other conditions, so see your doctor for help.
- Sudden increase in breast size (as much as a cup size in a few days)
- Change in breast skin color: pink, red, or dark-colored areas
- Skin looks like an orange peel (called peau d'orange)
- Constantly itching breast skin
- Breast is warmer, harder or firmer than usual
- Breast pain not related to menstrual cycle
- Nipple retraction - pulling inward
- Swollen lymph nodes under arm or above collarbone
How IBC is Diagnosed:
Confirming a Diagnosis of IBC:
Based on a clinical breast exam, your doctor will make a diagnosis of IBC, but it should be confirmed by other tests. Because IBC can appear to be other conditions, such as mastitis, it's important to follow through with these additional tests.
- Mammogram - to check for tumor or skin thickening and increased breast density
- Ultrasound - for axillary lymph nodes and breast masses
- Breast biopsy or skin biopsy
- MRI - images breast masses and skin changes
- CAT and PET Scan - images of soft tissue, bone, and blood vessels and lymph nodes, possible sites of metastasis
Growth of IBC:
Stages of IBC:
Treatments For IBC:
Inflammatory breast cancer is aggressive, and must be treated appropriately. Your first line of attack will be neoadjuvant chemotherapy, which is given before surgery. You will be carefully monitored to see how your cancer is responding to the treatment. Possible treatments for IBC may include:
Risk of IBC Recurrence:
Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Cancer Reference Information. American Cancer Society. Last Revised: 09/02/2009
Inflammatory Breast Cancer: Questions and Answers. National Cancer Institute. Reviewed: 08/29/2006.