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Skin Rash In Breast Cancer

Scabies Eczema And Shingles

No Lump, No Tumor: The Breast Cancer Disguised as a Skin Rash

A rash under breast caused would also be as a result of scabies, eczema or shingles. This are skin disorders that produces sings similar to those of rash caused by allergies and insect bites on the breast area.

  • Scabies is a severe itchy skin disorder. It is contagious and is caused by scabies mite. If you have a skin rash composed of small red bumps and blisters under breast and other parts of the body, you could be suffering from scabies.
  • Eczema is also called atopic dermatitis. It is a possible cause of an itchyred rash on breast. It is characterized by an itchy red rash that is dry or scaly.
  • Shingles is caused by a viral infection. It can cause a painful rash under the breast area. Shingles bumps, chickenpox or herpes zoster bumps appear as a single stripe of blisters on the affected area

How Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer Diagnosed And Staged

Inflammatory breast cancer is rare, with symptoms similar to a more common condition breast infections . Your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics and see if it resolves your symptoms to rule out an infection. If they suspect IBC, theyll order a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and additional tests to see if the cancers spread beyond your breast.

Diagnosing inflammatory breast cancer

Diagnosis involves a physical examination, imaging studies and a biopsy.

Staging inflammatory breast cancer

Biopsy results can help your healthcare provider stage the cancer, or determine whether its spread outside of your breast tissue. By the time IBC is diagnosed, its either stage III or stage IV. Stage III cancer has only spread to your breast tissue skin. Stage IV cancer has spread to other organs.

Your healthcare provider may order any of the following tests to determine if your cancers spread:

What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor

Ask your healthcare provider about what your cancer diagnosis means for your treatment options and likely outcomes. Questions to ask include:

  • What stage is my breast cancer?
  • Which specialists will be involved in my care?
  • What treatment options would you recommend?
  • What outcomes should I expect from treatment?
  • What are potential side effects or complications related to treatment?
  • Can you connect me with resources ?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare type of cancerthat spreads quickly. Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider immediately if you notice changes in your breasts, especially a change in one breast but not the other. The changes may be a sign of a less serious condition, like an infection. Still, IBC spreads fast. If your symptoms are a sign of inflammatory breast cancer, youll want to begin treatment as early as possible. Dont delay seeking care that can potentially improve your prognosis.

Also Check: How To Prevent Getting Breast Cancer

Side Effect Of Breast Cancer Treatment

Sometimes a treatment, not the cancer itself, leads to a rash. Many medications have the potential to cause a rash as a side effect, including breast cancer treatments such as:

  • Chemotherapy An agent, such as daunorubicin and methotrexate, designed to either kill cancer cells or slow their growth
  • Radiation therapy A localized cancer treatment that kills cancer cells via high-energy rays
  • Hormone therapy Medications that block cancer cells supply of natural hormones such as estrogen and progesterone
  • Targeted therapy Treatment that hones in on cancer cells, sparing surrounding healthy cells and producing fewer side effects
  • Immunotherapy A drug such as pembrolizumab that boosts the immune system to help it fight off the cancer cells

Some pain medications also can cause a rash.

When To See A Doctor

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Rash Pictures

Signs that you should call your doctor right away include:

  • Red streaks coming from your breast
  • Yellow or green pus

You should also see your doctor if any symptoms get worse. Theyâll do an exam to figure out whatâs causing your rash so they can prescribe the best treatment. Some simple rashes go away quickly with a special cream.

If you do have a breast infection, youâll need antibiotics. Make sure you finish all your medicine, even if you start feeling better right away.

Unless your doctor suggests otherwise, you wonât need to stop nursing. Try to fully empty your breasts so youâre less likely to get an abscess — a pocket of pus that may need draining.

Drink plenty of fluids and get lots of rest to help your body fight off a breast infection.

Your doctor may want you to get a mammogram. This can give them a better idea of whatâs going on inside your breast.

If your symptoms donât clear up soon, your doctor may also want to do a biopsy. Theyâll remove a small piece of your breast tissue and look closely at it under a microscope.

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

The signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • A new lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the armpit
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast
  • A dimple or puckering in the skin of the breast. It may look like the skin of an orange.
  • A nipple turned inward into the breast
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk. The discharge might happen suddenly, be bloody, or happen in only one breast.
  • Scaly, red, or swollen skin in the nipple area or the breast
  • Pain in any area of the breast

When Is It Given

Electrochemotherapy may be used to treat skin metastases when other treatments havent worked or when surgery isnt suitable. It will be planned by your treatment team on an individual basis.

It can also be given alongside other treatments or to skin which has previously been treated with radiotherapy.

Electrochemotherapy may not be suitable for some people with certain lung conditions.

You will need a number of tests to ensure it is safe to give you electrochemotherapy. These may include blood tests, a chest x-ray, a CT scan of the chest and lung function tests.

You may be asked to have medical photographs taken of the skin metastases and the area that requires treatment before it begins, and once its completed. This can help to monitor the affected areas and assess the effectiveness of the treatment.

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Changes In The Size And Shape Of The Breast

Its not uncommon for breasts to swell, and you may notice a change in size around the time of your menstrual cycle.

Swelling can also cause breast tenderness, and it may be slightly uncomfortable to wear a bra or lie down on your stomach. This is perfectly normal and rarely indicative of breast cancer.

But while your breasts may undergo certain changes at different times of the month, you shouldnt overlook some changes. If you notice your breasts swelling at times other than your menstrual cycle, or if only one breast is swollen, talk to your doctor.

In cases of normal swelling, both breasts remain symmetrical. That means one wont suddenly be larger or more swollen than the other.

Support For Living With Secondary Breast Cancer

Skin can show early signs of breast cancer

Everyones experience of being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer is different. For many people, uncertainty can be the hardest part of living with secondary breast cancer.

You may find it helpful to talk to someone else whos had a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer.

Chat to other people living with secondary breast cancer on our online Forum.

Meet other people with a secondary diagnosis and get information and support at a Living with Secondary Breast Cancer group.

You can also call Breast Cancer Nows Helpline free on 0808 800 6000.

Image credit: graphic adapted from: Sersa et al.Electrochemotherapy in treatment of tumours. European Journal of Surgical Oncology. 2008. 34: 232240. Adapted by permission under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

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What The Patient Can Do

  • Talk to your cancer care team about your rash and what they recommend to help the rash get better. Your cancer care team may recommend mild soaps, lotions, and moisturizers. In certain cases, your doctor may prescribe medication to help with the rash.
  • Clean the skin gently with warm water, gentle soap, and a soft cloth
  • Rinse the rash area carefully and pat dry
  • Keep your skin moisturized
  • Protect the affected area from heat and cold
  • Stay out of the sun as much as possible, because sunlight seems to trigger and/or worsen rashes in some people. If youll be outside during the day, wear a hat and clothes with long sleeves. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 and zinc oxide or titanium dioxide at least 1 hour before going out. Be careful near windows too.
  • Wear loose-fitting, soft clothing.
  • Apply medicines prescribed for skin reactions.
  • Protect all of your skin from the sun. For instance, wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and long-sleeved shirts when outside.

What Are The Types Of Breast Cancer

There are different types of breast cancer. The types are based on which breast cells turn into cancer. The types include:

  • Ductal carcinoma, which begins in the cells of the ducts. This is the most common type.
  • Lobular carcinoma, which begins in the lobules. It is more often found in both breasts than other types of breast cancer.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer, in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. The breast becomes warm, red, and swollen. This is a rare type.
  • Paget’s disease of the breast, which is a cancer involving the skin of the nipple. It usually also affects the darker skin around the nipple. It is also rare.

Read Also: What Causes Breast Pain Besides Cancer

What Are Skin Metastases

Skin metastases are secondary breast cancers that form on or just below the skin.

Secondary breast cancer happens when cancer cells spread from the breast to other parts of the body. Sometimes breast cancer cells can spread to the skin. This can happen through the blood or lymphatic system.

This is not the same as having cancer that starts in the skin. The cells that have spread to the skin are breast cancer cells.

The most common sites affected are the areas near the site of the breast cancer, for example the skin of the chest wall, around the surgical scar or the abdomen .

Less commonly, skin metastases can occur on other areas of skin, such as on the scalp, neck, back and arms.

About a third of people with secondary breast cancer will develop skin metastases.

Skin metastases are different to local recurrence, which is when primary breast cancer has come back in the chest or breast area.

When To Seek Medical Attention


Many rashes usually heal on their own or with over-the-counter topical creams.

However, it is important to have a doctor or healthcare professional evaluate your rash to ensure you receive the care you need.

Certain symptoms of a breast rash can be signs of an infection or a more serious disease.

Red flags that indicate you should see a doctor immediately include:

  • The nipple suddenly becomes inverted
  • One or both breasts change in size or texture
  • The skin on the breast takes on a pitted appearance
  • Pus starts coming from the rash
  • Bloody nipple drainage occurs
  • You have a fever

If a rash on your chest or breast area is accompanied by trouble breathing, nausea, or other signs of an allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately.

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Tests For Skin Metastases

A member of your treatment team will examine you and look at your skin. Theyll also discuss any other symptoms you have.

To confirm a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer in the skin, you may have a punch biopsy. Youll be given a local anaesthetic before a tiny cutter device is used to take a very small piece of tissue from the area. Its not unusual for the area to bleed a little after the biopsy so a small dressing or plaster will be applied.

The biopsy site may be uncomfortable for a little while, but simple pain relief can be taken to help with this.

You may also have a CT scan to check for any signs of the cancer having spread to other parts of the body.

A CT scan uses x-rays to take a series of detailed pictures of the body. Its painless but during the CT scan you need to lie still for a short period of time. Before the scan you may be given a liquid known as a contrast solution. This is usually injected into a vein, and helps produce clearer images to identify the number, size and location of any areas of cancer.

How Is A Rash Under The Breast Treated

How the rash is treated depends on how severe it is and whats causing it.

The aim of treatment is to:

  • reduce the rubbing of skin on skin
  • keep the area dry
  • reduce inflammation and moisture
  • treat any infection and stop it spreading

Other treatments such as barrier creams, steroid creams, anti-fungal creams and antibiotic creams or tablets may also help. You can ask your GP or pharmacist about these.

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Treatment For Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Treatment for IBC usually takes a combination of several therapies. It all depends on the specifics of your cancer, age, and overall health.

Chemotherapy can help shrink the tumor. It can also kill cancer cells throughout your body. Youll need surgery to remove the tumor, and most likely the entire breast and nearby lymph nodes. Radiation therapy can kill any cells left behind after surgery.

If the biopsy found that the cancer is HER2-positive, HER2 therapy can be part of your treatment plan. If your cancer is estrogen-positive, hormone therapy can be used. These are called targeted therapies.

What Can I Do To Prevent Getting A Rash Under The Breast

Cancer or Minor Rash

There are some simple things you can do to reduce your risk of getting intertrigo and stop any irritation from getting worse.

1. Wash under your breasts morning and night with a gentle soap or soap substitute . You can ask your pharmacist about this.

2. Dry the skin under your breasts thoroughly after washing gently pat dry with a clean, soft towel or you can try using a hairdryer on a cool setting. This can be very effective, especially if you have large breasts.

3. Wear a well-fitting, supportive bra made from a natural material such as cotton. Manmade materials such as nylon can trap moisture. It can help to wear a cotton top under your bra. If the skin is weeping then try to change your bra daily or use cotton dressings. You can ask your practice nurse for help with this.

4. Losing weight may help to limit the areas where skin can rub against skin.

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Inflammatory Breast Cancer: The Disease That Starts With A Rash On The Breast

Thursday, March 10, 2022

After being treated for inflammatory breast cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Tamara Benjamin has no evidence of disease. I credit it all to Dr. Bromberg and the incredible team at MSK, she says.

Thats impossible.

Thats what Tamara Benjamin thought when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 52. She had no lump only a rash on her left breast, which multiple doctors told her was just an infection.

But after the rash spread and her breast swelled, she scheduled an appointment with a breast specialist near her home in March 2020. This was the fourth provider she had seen. He took a sample of tissue from Tamaras breast and brought her back to his office to deliver terrible news: Tamara had breast cancer. It wasnt a typical form of the disease, he said. Tamara had a rare, aggressive type called inflammatory breast cancer. She was stunned and scared.

I am a former athlete who eats healthy, works out every day, and leads a very healthy lifestyle, says Tamara, an accountant from Queens who is married with two adult children. I thought there must be a mistake.

How Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer Diagnosed

Inflammatory breast cancer can be difficult to diagnose. Often, there is no lump that can be felt during a physical exam or seen in a screening mammogram. In addition, most women diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer have dense breast tissue, which makes cancer detection in a screening mammogram more difficult. Also, because inflammatory breast cancer is so aggressive, it can arise between scheduled screening mammograms and progress quickly. The symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer may be mistaken for those of mastitis, which is an infection of the breast, or another form of locally advanced breast cancer.

To help prevent delays in diagnosis and in choosing the best course of treatment, an international panel of experts published guidelines on how doctors can diagnose and stage inflammatory breast cancer correctly. Their recommendations are summarized below.

Minimum criteria for a diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer include the following:

  • A rapid onset of erythema , edema , and a peau d’orange appearance and/or abnormal breast warmth, with or without a lump that can be felt.
  • The above-mentioned symptoms have been present for less than 6 months.
  • The erythema covers at least a third of the breast.
  • Initial biopsy samples from the affected breast show invasive carcinoma.

Imaging and staging tests include the following:

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How To Tell The Difference Between A Bug Bite And Cancer

According to the United Kingdoms National Health Service , bug bites usually cause a lump on the skin that can be small, inflamed, painful, and itchy. They usually resolve within a few hours or days.

However, in some cases, people may develop a mild allergic reaction. This can cause a larger area of skin around the bite to become swollen, inflamed, and painful. This usually resolves within a week.

People should contact a doctor if they develop any symptoms of breast cancer or their current symptoms do not resolve and occur alongside other symptoms of breast cancer.

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  • Whiteheads: These produce a white bump.
  • Blackheads: These appear black on the skin surface.
  • Papules: These are inflamed lesions that appear as small, inflamed bumps. They may also be tender to touch.
  • Pustules: These are inflamed at the base and have pus-filled lesions at the top. The lesions may be white or yellow.
  • Nodules: These are large lesions that can be solid and painful. They are usually deep within the skin.
  • Cystic acne: These are painful lesions filled with pus. They are also deep within the skin.

Bug bites are usually itchy, whereas pimples are not. A bug bite may also appear similar to a pimple if it becomes infected. Infected bug bites may lead to a buildup of pus.

An infected bug bite may also cause symptoms that appear similar to those of breast cancer. These symptoms can include:

  • warmth around the bite

There are many other possible causes of spots or rashes on the breast, including:


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