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Early Signs Inflammatory Breast Cancer

How Early Can Ibc Be Diagnosed

What are the Symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer?

Because of IBCs quick-growing and aggressive nature, combined with its tendency to be misdiagnosed, its commonly diagnosed at an advanced stage.

  • IBC tends to grow in layers, which is why it can be missed during exams.
  • On imaging, these sheets of tissue can resemble nests.
  • Your doctor may be able to feel these areas of thickening on your skin, as well as possibly see areas of higher density on a mammogram.
  • Routine blood tests may not pick up abnormalities related to inflammatory breast cancer.

Our Approach To Inflammatory Breast Cancer

The Don & Erika Wallace Comprehensive Breast Program at Moffitt Cancer Center is led by experts with an unparalleled level of experience in addressing uncommon and aggressive malignancies like inflammatory breast cancer. Moffitt patients have access to a full spectrum of breast cancer screening, genetic counseling, preventive surgery and advanced clinical treatment from a multispecialty team. We also spearhead ambitious breast cancer research initiatives and clinical trials, as recognized by our status as a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Susan Hoover

Contact Moffitt at or complete a new patient registration form online if you would like to receive information about screening or speak with a Moffitt oncologist specializing in inflammatory breast cancer. We welcome patients with or without referrals.


The Breast Cancer Centers At Ctca

At the Breast Cancer Centers at each of our CTCA® hospitals, located across the nation, our cancer experts are devoted to a single missiontreating breast cancer patients with compassion and precision. Each patients care team is led by a medical oncologist and coordinated by a registered oncology nurse, who helps track the various appointments, follow up on tests and answer questions that come up along the way. Your care team also may include a breast surgeon, radiation oncologist, radiologist, pathologist and a plastic/reconstructive surgeon with advanced training in helping patients restore function and appearance. Fertility preservation and genetic testing are also available for qualifying patients who need them.

Our pathologists and oncologists are experienced and trained in tools designed to diagnose, stage and treat different types of breast cancer, from early-stage ductal carcinoma in situ to complex diseases such as triple-negative and inflammatory breast cancer. As part of our patient-centered care model, which is designed to help you keep strong during treatment, your multidisciplinary care team may recommend various evidence-informed supportive therapies, such as naturopathic support, psychosocial support, nutritional support, physical and occupational therapy and pain management. The entire team works together with a whole-person focus, which is at the heart of our centers dedication to personalized and comprehensive care.

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Playing An Active Role

You play an active role in making treatment decisions by understanding your breast cancer diagnosis, your treatment options and possible side effects.

Together, you and your health care provider can choose treatments that fit your values and lifestyle.

Learn more about factors that affect treatment options.

For a summary of research studies on neoadjuvant chemotherapy and breast cancer treatment, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.

For a summary of research studies on neoadjuvant hormone therapy and breast cancer treatment, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.

For a summary of research studies on radiation therapy following mastectomy in women with invasive breast cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.

For a summary of research studies on chemotherapy and overall survival in breast cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.

For a summary of research studies on survival in women with IBC, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.

Symptoms Of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Very Early Inflammatory Breast Cancer Rash / Breast Cancer Rash ...

Because the lymph channels are blocked, the breast might become:

  • swollen
  • firm or hard
  • hot to the touch

The breast can also be painful in inflammatory breast cancer, but this is not always the case.

Other possible symptoms include:

  • ridges or thickening of the skin of the breast
  • pitted skin, like orange peel
  • a lump in the breast
  • a discharge from the nipple
  • an inverted nipple the nipple is pulled into the breast

Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms can appear quite suddenly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often confused with an infection of the breast . This is because the symptoms are very similar. Mastitis is uncommon in women who aren’t pregnant or breast feeding and it is particularly rare in women who have had their menopause.

Your doctor might give you a course of antibiotics if they think that you could have mastitis. But they will refer you to a specialist if they think you are unlikely to have an infection or if your symptoms dont clear up after antibiotics.

While inflammatory breast cancer can cause these particular symptoms, its worth being aware of the general symptoms of breast cancer.

Make an appointment to see your doctor if you notice any change in the look or feel of your breasts.

Your GP usually refers you to a breast clinic for tests.

You might have a:

  • mammogram, which is an x-ray of the breast
  • breast ultrasound
  • biopsy of the skin in the breast
  • biopsy of a breast lump
  • MRI scan of the breast

Other tests may include a CT scan or PET-CT scan, and bone scan

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When Should I Call My Doctor If I Am Concerned About Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you notice any changes to your breast, even if you dont feel a lump. With further testing, your provider can determine whether IBC may be a concern.

Contact your provider if youre taking antibiotics for a breast infection especially if you have the symptoms of IBC and your symptoms dont improve within a week.

How Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer Diagnosed

If you have swelling or redness on your breast that doesnât go away and doesnât get better with antibiotics after a week, your doctor may suspect inflammatory breast cancer. An ultrasound and other imaging tests will give a more detailed look at your breast.

Your doctor may order one or more of the following:

  • Mammogram. This can show if the affected breast is denser or if the skin is thicker than the other breast.
  • MRI . It uses powerful magnets and radio waves to make pictures of the breast and structures inside your body.
  • CT scan . It’s a powerful X-ray that makes detailed pictures inside your body.
  • PET scan . Used together with a CT scan, this test can help find cancer in lymph nodes and other areas of the body.
  • Breast ultrasound. This imaging test uses sound waves to create a picture of the inside of your breast. It can help spot changes that donât show up on mammograms.

A biopsy can tell for sure if you have cancer. A doctor will remove a small section of breast tissue or skin to test it.

Often, the sample can be taken with a needle, but sometimes a cut is made to remove it. The type of biopsy you have may depend on whether a mass can be seen on imaging tests.

The medical team will use whatâs collected in the biopsy to look for any abnormal cell growth and also test for proteins associated with some cancers. If youâre diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, more tests can show how much of the breast and the area around it is affected.

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Inflammatory Breast Cancer Pictures And Symptoms

The symptoms of IBC include a breast that:

  • Quickly changes appearance
  • Looks larger, thicker or heavier
  • Feels very warm
  • Has skin that looks dimpled or ridged like an orange
  • Is tender, aches or feels painful
  • Has larger lymph nodes under the arm or around the collarbone
  • Has a flatter nipple or one that is turned inward
  • Turns inward

Unlike other forms of breast cancer, there is no lump formation with IBC.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Pictures of Different Symptoms

Below are some of the pictures of IBC for reference only, you may not experience them at all. If you find anything abnormal with your breast and are concerned, do not hesitate to visit your doctor.

As these inflammatory breast cancer picture shows, the texture of the breast may change and appear to look dimpled or ridged, like an orange peel. This is referred to as peau dorange, which is French for orange skin and it is caused by cancer cells blocking the lymph vessels beneath the skin, which have formed into ridges or tiny lumps.

One of the first symptoms women experience is the breast appearing to be red, pink or purple. The discoloration may look like bruising that covers one-third or more of the breast. It may also feel warm or be tender.

With IBC, the skin may appear to be splotchy or irritated and there may be bumps present.

Inflammatory breast cancer pictures show the discoloration that can appear.

Stages Of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Skin can show early signs of breast cancer

This type of cancer is usually in one of three stages:

  • Stage IIIB: All Inflammatory breast cancers start in this stage since they involve the skin of your breast.
  • Stage IIIC: This cancer has spread to lymph nodes around your collarbone or inside your chest.
  • Stage IV: The cancer has spread outside your breast and nearby lymph nodes to other parts of your body.

Read Also: Is Invasive Breast Cancer Curable

Where Do These Numbers Come From

The American Cancer Society relies on information from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database, maintained by the National Cancer Institute , to provide survival statistics for different types of cancer.

The SEER database tracks 5-year relative survival rates for breast cancer in the United States, based on how far the cancer has spread. The SEER database, however, does not group cancers by AJCC TNM stages . Instead, it groups cancers into localized, regional, and distant stages:

  • Localized: There is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the breast.
  • Regional: The cancer has spread outside the breast to nearby structures or lymph nodes.
  • Distant: The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body such as the lungs, liver or bones.

Talking To Your Healthcare Provider

It is crucial that you talk to your oncologist and healthcare team about any and all symptoms you are experiencing. Some of these symptoms, such as pain, are under-treated in people with metastatic cancer. This is not because healthcare providers fail to treat the symptoms, but because they are simply unaware that a person is coping with them.

Breast Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.

With all of the talk about people with cancer being brave or strong, you might hesitate to share symptoms that could make you appear frightened or weak. Yet facing metastatic cancer is frightening, and being able to share your concerns is a sign of strength, not weakness. There is a lot that can be done to ease most of the symptoms of metastatic breast cancer, but the only way that your oncologist can know what you are feeling is if you are brave enough to speak up.

In addition, sharing your symptoms, even if they may seem of little consequence to you, may help your oncologist better recognize the extent of your disease, anticipate potential complications, and suggest the best possible treatments for your disease.

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Inflammatory Breast Cancer Can Be Difficult To Diagnose

However, you should be careful to notice it because people often get confused the symptoms of the inflammatory breast cancer are highly visible and different from the other breast cancers. Magnetic resonance imaging is also suggested under particular medical conditions. What are the symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer? Inflammatory breast cancer is an uncommon form of breast cancer but is very aggressive. The pathologic hallmark of inflammatory breast cancer is the identification of tumor cells within the dermal lymphatics. Inflammatory breast cancer is characterized by peau dorange, erythema, and enlargement of the breast, often without a mass. Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms and signs include pain or a bruise in the breast, skin changes in the breast area, sudden swelling of the breast, or itching of the breast. Inflammatory breast cancer can develop on the background of mastopathy, diabetes, endocrine diseases. Usual features of inflammation are skin thickening, redness and warmth of skin. It can cause breast skin to take on the appearance of an. While the symptoms may sound like. Inflammatory breast cancer can be difficult to diagnose. Wed also like to use analytics cookies.

What Is The Prognosis For People With Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

IBC usually develops quickly and spreads to other tissues outside of your breast. It often returns after treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to managing the condition as effectively as possible.

Because IBC spreads quickly and is found later than other cancers, the outlook for people with this condition is generally not as good as for different types of breast cancer. Still, some people live many years after an IBC diagnosis. Your healthcare provider can explain your prognosis to you.

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What Are The Stages Of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Inflammatory breast cancer stages are stage IIIB, stage IIIC, and stage IV. These stages are as followed: Stage IIIB : Stages of breast cancers are different and one of these stages is stage IIIB that means the cancer cells have spread to tissues near the breast, and have started affecting the skin or chest wall.

How Is Ibc Different From Other Types Of Breast Cancer

Unlike with other types of breast cancers, only 15 percent of people diagnosed with IBC have a lump. Thats why it can be mistaken for breast infections or injuries because of the redness and swelling it causes. While its possible to detect IBC on a mammogram, the imaging device may not recognize evidence of disease because the cancer forms in layers.

More women than men are affected by IBC, and it tends to be seen in younger women than other breast cancers. Black women are also at a slightly higher risk of the disease than white women, and being overweight or obese is also known risk factor for IBC.

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Ductal Carcinoma In Situ

Ductal carcinoma in situ refers to an area of abnormal cells on one milk duct.

When a person receives this diagnosis, the cells have not invaded the surrounding breast tissue. However, having ductal carcinoma in situ can increase the risk of developing invasive breast cancer later.

This condition generally does not cause symptoms. Doctors find through mammography. Rarely, a person may notice a lump in the breast or some discharge from the nipple.

Diagnosis Of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Inflammatory breast cancer diagnosis and treatment

Why does your breast turn red when you have inflammatory breast cancer?

The red appearance of the breast with IBC is due to the tumor cells which block the lymphatic vessels surrounding the breast. The breast may start off as pink and become progressively redder or even purple as the tumor progresses.

Why are mammograms notoriously ineffective in detecting inflammatory breast cancer?

There may be a few reasons for this. One is that inflammatory breast cancer doesnt form a discrete lump that can be seen easily and measured. However, IBC does have other features that can be observed on a mammogram if the radiologists are trained on what to look for. These signals of IBC include trabecular distortion, skin thickening and retraction of the skin and nipple. Another reason why a regular screening mammogram might not pick up IBC is that there is a relatively short latency between IBC initiation and full-blown disease generally within 1-3 months of first symptom the entire breast may be noticeably involved. IBC diagnosis mid-screening cycle is quite common. Another reason is that in younger women especially who have denser breasts, mammograms lose sensitivity because more of the breast is white on a mammogram.

Can inflammatory breast cancer be confirmed on a biopsy alone?

What is the difference between grade and stage?

What is the significance of ER, PR and HER2 status for my treatment?

Is inflammatory breast cancer a death sentence?

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Early Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer

Common symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • A lump in your breast or underarm that doesnât go away. This is often the first symptom of breast cancer. Your doctor can usually see a lump on a mammogram long before you can see or feel it.
  • Swelling in your armpit or near your collarbone. This could mean breast cancer has spread to lymph nodes in that area. Swelling may start before you feel a lump, so let your doctor know if you notice it.
  • Pain and tenderness, although lumps donât usually hurt. Some may cause a prickly feeling.
  • A flat or indented area on your breast. This could happen because of a tumor that you canât see or feel.
  • Breast changes such as a difference in the size, contour, texture, or temperature of your breast.
  • Changes in your nipple, like one that:
  • Pulls inward
  • Develops sores
  • Unusual nipple discharge. It could be clear, bloody, or another color.
  • A marble-like area under your skin that feels different from any other part of either breast.
  • Hormone Receptor Status And Her2 Status

    Triple negative IBC are hormone receptor-negative and HER2-negative. Triple negative IBC and IBC that are hormone receptor-positive and HER2-negative tend to have a worse prognosis than other IBC .

    Hormone receptor-negative breast cancers, such as triple negative IBC, can be treated with chemotherapy, but they cant be treated with hormone therapy.

    HER2-positive breast cancers can be treated with chemotherapy and with trastuzumab and other HER2-targeted therapies. So, women with HER2-positive IBC tend to have better survival than women with HER2-negative IBC .

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