What Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer?
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a very aggressive form of cancer that can happen very quickly. It is often misdiagnosed as the breast infection “mastitis.”
Inflammatory Breast Cancer is not one of the more well known cancers of the breast. It has usually spread to the lymph nodes by the time it is diagnosed, thus making it have one of the lowest survival rates of breast cancer types.
Often cancers of the breast can be diagnosed with a mammogram. Inflammatory Breast Cancer is different. The cancer actually lays like thin sheets of paper instead of growing as a solid tumor, thus it is difficult to detect right away unless a doctor is well aware of the symptoms of breast cancer. The most sensitive diagnostic tool for IBC is an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). An MRI measures skin changes that are typical with IBC.
The onset of IBC is extremely rapid. Quite often the misdiagnosis of mastitis leads to a patient’s death as this cancer is so aggressive. Here is what you need to be aware of with symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer:
Redness of the breast
Breast skin resembles a pitted orange.
Shooting or stabbing pain through the breast.
Enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit or above the collar bone ( IBC blocks the lymph vessels in the breast).
The breast feels extremely warm – even hot – to the touch.
No fever. This is important because with mastitis there will be a fever present. If you have all of the above symptoms without a fever, you need to see a cancer specialist immediately.
Currently IBC has a 5 year 40%-50% survival rate. Keep in mind that survival rates are reported as successes even if the patient dies immediately after the 5 year mark. This is one of the lowest survival rates for cancer.
The usual treatment for inflammatory breast cancer is chemotherapy. Sometimes it is combined with surgery and radiation. The key though, is to be continually aware of your breasts, any changes that occur, and seek medical attention immediately for any symptoms of IBC.