What is Inflammatory Breast Cancer?

Updated at: Oct 05, 2012
What is Inflammatory Breast Cancer?

What is Inflammatory Breast Cancer? — A locally advanced form of breast cancer, IBC is a rare and aggressive disease, which accounts for nearly two to five per cent of cancer cases worldwide.

Gunjan Rastogi
MiscellaneousWritten by: Gunjan RastogiPublished at: Oct 05, 2012

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare and aggressive form of cancer, which mimics the symptoms of breast inflammation or infection. IBC is a locally advanced cancer, which blocks the lymph vessels in the skin of the breast.

Unlike other cancer forms, inflammatory breast cancer tends to occur at a younger age; the average age of patients suffering from IBC is 52 years as opposed to 57 years for other locally advanced cancer forms. Also, obese women and African-American women are more likely to suffer from IBC in comparison with women of other racial and ethnic groups.  Here’s all the necessary information for timely diagnosis of IBC to control its symptoms from aggravating.   


Symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Inflammatory breast cancer does not show a visible lump and can therefore not be detected during mammography. Being aware about other symptoms of IBC is crucial for improving patient’s survival rate.

•    Swollen Breasts: Enlarged breast and swelling in the breast is the primary symptom of inflammatory breast cancer. Also, you may notice hardened breast skin.
•     Pain in the breast:— if you feel persistent acute pain in your breast, consult a doctor for breast infection. Follow an antibiotic treatment for a week. If the pain and discomfort in the breast does not subside, visit a breast specialist at the earliest to get a breast biopsy done.
•    Change in the colour of the skin of the breast, orange peel-like texture of the skin or unhealed bruises
•    Persistent itching in the breast, inverted nipple and discharge from the nippleare other signs of IBC.
•    If IBC metastasises to surrounding sites such as the lymph nodes or armpits and lower neck, you may notice swelling in these areas.


[Read: More Signs of Inflammatory Breast Cancer]


Diagnosis of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Due to the absence of cancerous lump, physical examination of the breast and mammogramy prove to be an ineffective methodof diagnosing IBC. Here are the guidelines that doctors follow to diagnose and stage IBC:
•    persistent erythema (redness), edema and orange peel-like appearance with or without lump for three or more months
•    one-third of the breast is covered by erythema
•    breast biopsy shows invasive carcinoma.

[Read: Information on Breast Cancer Biopsy]


If you have the above mentioned symptoms, your doctor will conduct an ultrasound of the breast and lymph nodes, PET scan or CT scan.


Treatment of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

IBC is treated using multimodal approach, which includes systemic chemotherapy to reduce the tumour size, surgery to remove the tumour and finally radiotherapy. Treatment may also include neo-adjuvant chemotherapy, targeted therapy, hormone therapy or adjuvant therapy.


Read more articles on Breast Cancer.



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