Inflammatory Breast Cancer
What is inflammatory breast cancer?
Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer, accounting for approximately 1% to 6% of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States.
Inflammatory breast cancer is now separated from other forms of locally advanced breast cancer. It is marked by:
- A shortened survival.
- A higher incidence of HER2-positive and endocrine receptor negative cancers.
It is often diagnosed at a younger age compared to non-inflammatory locally advanced breast cancers.
What are the symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer?
Unlike the more common form of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer does not generally show up as a lump. The disease grows as nests or sheets that clog the lymph system under the skin. Often the symptoms are attributed to other diseases. Therefore, the diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer may be delayed.
Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include:
- Pain in the breast. Often inflammatory breast cancer is mistaken as a breast infection and treated with antibiotics. If response to antibiotics doesn't occur after a week, request a breast biopsy or referral to a breast specialist.
- Skin changes in the breast area. You may find pink or reddened areas often with the texture and thickness of an orange.
- A bruise on the breast that doesn't go away.
- Sudden swelling of the breast.
- Itching of the breast.
- Nipple retraction or discharge.
- Swelling of the lymph nodes under the arm or in the neck.
These changes often occur quickly, over a period of weeks.
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