Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer that can grow and spread quickly. It is important to be able to recognize the signs of IBC and speak with a doctor immediately if you notice changes in your breast. In this article, we will explore the signs and symptoms of IBC and how it differs from other types of breast cancer.
What Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer?
Inflammatory breast cancer is a type of breast cancer that occurs when cancer cells block the lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. It accounts for only 1 to 5 percent of all cases of breast cancer and is different from other forms of breast cancer because it often doesn’ t cause a lump or mass. This can make it more difficult to diagnose as it may not show up on common breast cancer screening techniques like mammograms.
How Is IBC Different From Other Types Of Breast Cancer
Compared to other types of breast cancer, IBC has different signs, symptoms, and prognoses. It is more common in younger people and develops quickly, usually within 3 to 6 months. The affected breast may feel warmer and heavier than the other breast, and it may develop redness or appear bruised. IBC is also diagnosed at stage 3 or stage 4 because the cancer cells have grown into the skin, and it is more likely that the cancer will have spread to other parts of the body. The outlook of IBC is typically not as good compared with other types of breast cancer.
Signs And Symptoms Of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
IBC can progress rapidly within weeks or months. Receiving an early diagnosis is extremely important. While you usually don’ t develop a lump that’ s characteristic of other breast cancers, you may have several of the following symptoms:
Breast Discoloration: An early sign of IBC is discoloration of the breast, with a section of the breast appearing red, pink, or purple in color. Discoloration can impact a third or more of the breast, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Breast Pain: Due to the inflammatory nature of this particular cancer, your breast may look and feel different. For example, inflammation can cause your breast to feel warm to the touch. You may also have breast tenderness and pain.
Skin Dimpling: Another telltale sign of IBC is skin dimpling, or pitted skin. Dimpling— which can make the skin resemble the skin of an orange peel— is a concerning sign.
Change in Nipple Appearance: A change in the shape of the nipple is another possible early sign of IBC. Your nipple may become flat or retract inside the breast.
Enlarged Lymph Nodes: IBC can cause enlarged lymph nodes. If you notice enlarged lymph nodes under your arm or above your collarbone, consult your doctor quickly.
Sudden Change in Breast Size: IBC can change the appearance of the breasts. This change can occur suddenly. Because this cancer can cause inflammation and swelling, breast enlargement or thickness can occur.
However, Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer that can grow and spread quickly. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of IBC and speak with a doctor immediately if you notice changes in your breast. While IBC is different from other types of breast cancer, it is important to remember that early detection and treatment can improve outcomes.