Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Think all breast cancers are alike?  Guess again.  The newly recognized inflammatory breast cancer may be one of the sneakiest combatants in our war against this type of condition. 

Below, we’ll look at the “ABCs” of inflammatory breast cancer, including how it’s detected and how it’s treated. 

A.  What is Inflammatory Breast Cancer?

Inflammatory breast cancer (also known as “IBC”) is a very serious form of breast cancer with a lower-than-average survival rate.  Because it affects the breasts differently than “standard” breast cancer, lumps do not form.  Instead, hardening of the breasts and breast enlargement take place; unfortunately, these symptoms are often misdiagnosed or ignored.

Though mastectomies are an excellent way to detect inflammatory breast cancer, they are not always a surefire method; in addition, a biopsy and bloodwork may be necessary to ensure a proper diagnosis. 

B.  What are the Symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer?

As noted previously, inflammatory breast cancer’s signs are much different than one might expect.  No lumps are present; instead, the breast is tender, sore, usually swollen, and often “hardened.”  Severe pain may also be present, though that’s not always the case.

Again, many females ignore these symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer at first, assuming that they are simply having “PMS” or are experiencing a hormone-related concern.  But it’s important to never underestimate or avoid talking with a physician about symptoms, even those that appear at first to be mild, because inflammatory breast cancer can spread rapidly.

C.  What are the Treatments of Inflammatory Breast Cancer?

Like other breast cancers, treatment of inflammatory breast cancer usually includes a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation.  The length of treatment and the response to treatment will vary from patient to patient; however, when diagnosed in Stage 1 or 2, inflammatory breast cancer is highly treatable and the remission rate is excellent.

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