How Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer Diagnosed And Treated
A diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer is classified as Stage 3 breast cancer and is diagnosed through your physicians clinical judgment and a biopsy. A biopsy for inflammatory breast cancer is a biopsy of the skin of the breast.
If the pathology results show that the skin and dermal lymphatics of the breast skin contain breast cancer cells, this confirms it is inflammatory breast cancer.
Typically, IBC grows rapidly and requires aggressive treatment. This is the only type of breast cancer that requires urgent treatment, beginning with chemotherapy. Most oncologists recommend both local treatment of the affected breast and systemic treatment .
Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and hormone treatments may be included in the regimen. With aggressive treatment, the survival rate for inflammatory breast cancer patients has improved significantly in recent years.
What To Expect From Your Doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may allow more time later to cover other points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
Diagnosis Of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
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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What Is The Prognosis Of Patients With Inflammatory Breast Cancer
The prognosis, or likely outcome, for a patient diagnosed with cancer is often viewed as the chance that the cancer will be treated successfully and that the patient will recover completely. Many factors can influence a cancer patients prognosis, including the type and location of the cancer, the stage of the disease, the patients age and overall general health, and the extent to which the patients disease responds to treatment.
Because inflammatory breast cancer usually develops quickly and spreads aggressively to other parts of the body, women diagnosed with this disease, in general, do not survive as long as women diagnosed with other types of breast cancer.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that survival statistics are based on large numbers of patients and that an individual womans prognosis could be better or worse, depending on her tumor characteristics and medical history. Women who have inflammatory breast cancer are encouraged to talk with their doctor about their prognosis, given their particular situation.
Ongoing research, especially at the molecular level, will increase our understanding of how inflammatory breast cancer begins and progresses. This knowledge should enable the development of new treatments and more accurate prognoses for women diagnosed with this disease. It is important, therefore, that women who are diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer talk with their doctor about the option of participating in a clinical trial.
‘i Felt A Pea On My Ribs’
I had done monthly self-breast exams since I was in my early 20s. I felt a tiny hard little bump the size of a small pea. I could only feel it because it was over my rib at the bottom of my left breast. In retrospect, my bra may have hurt a little in that area before I found the lump. I have had many lumps, bumps, and cysts biopsied, but this pea was definitely different. I scheduled my annual mammogram along with a biopsy. I received the breast cancer diagnosis within a week, just shy of my 55th birthday. Turns out, there was another in the other breast that didnt show up on a mammogram. I also discovered I was a BRCA 1 mutation carrier. I needed aggressive chemo followed by a double mastectomy. Had I not done the exam that evening, everything would be quite different.
Cynthia Bailey, MD, president and CEO of Advanced Skin Care and Dermatology, Inc., Sebastopol, California
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Inflammatory Breast Cancer Ethnic Groups And New Research
Similarly to other breast cancers, the incidence rate of inflammatory breast cancer varies according to ethnic groups in the United States.
The rate of IBC is around 1.3 per 100,000 across all groups of women. However, African American women have a higher risk of 1.6 per 100,000. Asian and Pacific Islanders have the lowest risk of IBC at 0.7 per 100,000. Scientists still do not fully understand the differences in risk for breast cancer between different countries.
Furthermore, a diagnosis of IBC tends to be at a younger age than other breast cancers. The average age at diagnosis of IBC is the mid to late50s. Most women are post-menopausal at diagnosis. Interestingly, a high Body Mass Index is thought to significantly increase the odds of developing IBC.
The latest research is investigating the mammary tumor virus as a potential risk factor for Inflammatory Breast Cancer.
Early Signs Of Breast Cancer
Pinpointing breast cancer in its earliest stages isnt easy becauseare different for everyone. Sometimes there is a palpable lump or tenderness. Very often, there is neither. Generally, breast cancer shows no symptoms in the early stage.
However, there are certain changes in the breast that may indicate breast cancer in both men and women.
Whether you are a man or a woman, its important to become familiar with your breasts so you can recognize when changes occur and seek timely treatment. Know the facts and understand your risk factors for the disease, such as , by reviewing these frequently asked questions.
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What Is The Difference Between Inflammatory Breast Cancer And Other Types Of Breast Cancer
- The appearance of IBC is quite different from that of typical breast cancer. There is no breast lump, and a mammogram would not be able to detect it. Hence, diagnosis of IBC is difficult.
- IBC is more common in women younger than 40 years.
- African American women are more likely to develop IBC than white women.
- IBC is more common among obese or overweight women.
- IBC is much more aggressive than other types of cancer.
- Unlike typical breast cancer that can be detected in its earlier stage, IBC is often detected at a later stage.
- The chances of metastasis in IBC are quite high compared with those in other types of breast cancer.
- Women with IBC tend to have a worse treatment outcome than those with other common types of breast cancer.
Chemotherapy Hormone Therapy And Her2
Treatments after surgery and radiation therapy depend on prior treatment and tumor characteristics :
- If chemotherapy was not completed before surgery, the remaining chemotherapy is given after surgery.
- HER2-positive IBC is treated with HER2-targeted therapy before and/or after surgery.
- Hormone receptor-positive IBC is treated with hormone therapy.
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What Is The Prognosis For People With Inflammatory Breast Cancer
IBC usually develops quickly and spreads to other tissues outside the breast. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to managing the condition as effectively as possible.
Doctors use a system made up of four stages to diagnose all types of cancer. IBC is stage III or stage IV when it is diagnosed.
Because IBC is aggressive, and because it is found later than other cancers, the outlook for people with this condition is generally not as good as for other types of breast cancer. Still, some people have lived many years after an IBC diagnosis. Your doctor can explain your individual prognosis to you.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer Symptoms
Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer rarely causes breast lumps and may not appear on a mammogram. Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms include:
- Red, swollen, itchy breast that is tender to the touch
- The surface of the breast may take on a ridged or pitted appearance, similar to an orange peel
- Heaviness, burning, or aching in one breast
- One breast is visibly larger than the other
- Inverted nipple
- No mass is felt with a breast self-exam
- Swollen lymph nodes under the arm and/or above the collarbone
- Symptoms unresolved after a course of antibiotics
Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer usually does not cause a distinct lump in the breast. Therefore, a breast self-exam, clinical breast exam, or even a mammogram may not detect inflammatory breast cancer. Ultrasounds may also miss inflammatory breast cancer. However, the changes to the surface of the breast caused by inflammatory breast cancer can be seen with the naked eye.
Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer can develop rapidly, and the disease can progress quickly. Any sudden changes in the texture or appearance of the breast should be reported to your doctor immediately.
For women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, redness, swelling, itchiness and soreness are often signs of a breast infection such as mastitis, which is treatable with antibiotics. If you are not pregnant or nursing and you develop these symptoms, your doctor should test for inflammatory breast cancer.
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What Happens After You Finish Initial Treatment For Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Well, you can relax and congratulate yourself that you have come this far. Ongoing monitoring and screening will be necessary to detect any recurrence or further spread. It is important to talk to your oncologist about regular check-ups and tests necessary after the initial treatment.
Furthermore, on top of conventional medicines, it may be helpful to find a group for emotional support. Many women find complementary therapies to help ease symptoms and improve quality of life.
Complementary therapies include:-
- Tai Chi
- Herbal medicines: Although please check the safety of any drugs that you take. In addition, ensure that herbal medicines do not react with your treatment, such as chemotherapy
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.
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Early Warning Signs Of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
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Stage 4 Inflammatory Breast Cancer Treatment
Cancer thats spread to more distant areas of the body is typically treated using one or a combination of the systemic therapies mentioned above. These include:
Its unclear exactly what causes IBC to occur. In general, cancer develops due to genetic changes. These can happen due to a variety of factors, such as:
- genetic changes inherited from your parents
- errors that naturally occur during cell division
- damage to DNA through environmental exposures
Sometimes mutations can happen in genes that are associated with cell growth and division. When this happens, cells can begin to grow and divide out of control.
In IBC, cells in the breast ducts or lobules begin to rapidly grow and divide. As cancer cells build up, they block the lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. These leads to the redness, swelling, and dimpling associated with IBC.
There are a few risk factors associated with developing IBC. These include:
- Age. IBC typically occurs in younger women.
- Weight. People that have overweight or obesity are more likely to develop IBC.
- Race. Research shows that IBC occurs more frequently in Black women compared with white women.
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How Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer Diagnosed And Staged
Because IBC doesn’t form a tumor right away, the diagnosis process is somewhat different. Your physician may try a trial of antibiotics to help determine if your symptoms are caused by mastitis, especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. For other patients, your doctor will consider the possibility of IBC.
Your physician will do a physical exam to see the extent of redness, swelling, and dimpling of the skin covering your breast. They’ll also check the lymph nodes along your collarbone, and in your armpit swollen lymph nodes are found in almost all inflammatory breast cancer patients. The doctor may order a mammogram, MRI, or breast ultrasound to help detect evidence of possible cancer.
If cancer is suspected, your doctor will order a biopsy of suspicious areas found during breast imaging tests. Your biopsy is usually a skin punch biopsy or ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy. If cancer is found, the doctor usually orders CT scans, biopsies of lymph nodes, and a bone scan to determine the patient’s cancer stage.
Breast Cancer Signs And Symptoms
Knowing how your breasts normally look and feel is an important part of breast health. Although having regular screening tests for breast cancer is important, mammograms do not find every breast cancer. This means it’s also important for you to be aware of changes in your breasts and to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or round. They can even be painful. For this reason, it’s important to have any new breast mass, lump, or breast change checked by an experienced health care professional.
Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Swelling of all or part of a breast
- Skin dimpling
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple or breast skin that is red, dry, flaking or thickened
- Nipple discharge
- Swollen lymph nodes
Although any of these symptoms can be caused by things other than breast cancer, if you have them, they should be reported to a health care professional so the cause can be found.
Remember that knowing what to look for does not take the place of having regular mammograms and other screening tests. Screening tests can help find breast cancer early, before any symptoms appear. Finding breast cancer early gives you a better chance of successful treatment.
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How Does Inflammatory Breast Cancer Start
Although most breast cancers begin as lumps or tumors, inflammatory breast cancer usually starts with a feeling of thickness or heaviness in the breast. You also may develop red, inflamed skin on the breast. The breasts swell and become inflamed because the cancer cells clog the vessels that carry lymph.
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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Is Your Rash A Breast Infection Or Inflammatory Breast Cancer
If your breast looks red or swollen, theres no need to panic. A tender area or rash on your breast often signals a common problem like an infection. Rarely, a rash and soreness can be signs of inflammatory breast cancer, a form of the disease that grows quickly, often in weeks or months. Heres how to tell the difference.
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.
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