What is Inflammatory Breast Cancer?

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare and aggressive disease form that receives little attention. Due to its unusual symptoms, it is difficult to diagnose, and it is more common in young women, making it particularly tricky as the symptoms mimic that of mastitis, a common dense breast tissue infection in new breastfeeding mothers.

IBC symptoms do not appear as regular breast cancers. You don’t often find a lump in the first place. Your breast may look red, itchy, swollen, warm and tender instead. This is due to the way the breast cancer cells have formed. Instead of one solid lump, they block the lymph vessels in your skin that cause infection-like symptoms.

Treatment: Many might consider a 3d mammography, but doctors prefer the following options first

Chemotherapy and targeted therapy: Chemotherapy is first used to shrink the tumor and eradicate any other body cancer cells. This is called chemotherapy with neo — adjuvants. If the cancer is HER2 +, it is also common to use targeted therapies.

Surgery: Surgery is typically the next step if the chemo was successful in shrinking the tumor when treating locally advanced IBC. A lumpectomy (or breast-conserving surgery) is not an option because IBC affects so much of the breast. Instead, in a modified radical mastectomy, the whole breast is removed. An axillary dissection of the lymph node is also often done under the arm to remove the lymph nodes.

Radiation: After surgery, radiation is given even if cancer signs are no longer visible. This is done due to the high likelihood of recurrence. Radiation helps reduce the risk of returning cancer.

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