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Inflammatory carcinoma of the breast
signs, symptoms and definition
inflammatory carcinoma - definition
inflammatory carcinoma, also known as inflammatory breast cancer (ibc), is an advanced and accelerated form of breast cancer that is automatically staged as stage iiib or iv (within the range of stage I to stage iv), and ibc is usually not detected by mammograms or ultrasounds.
It requires immediate aggressive treatment with chemotherapy prior to surgery and is treated differently than more common types of breast cancer.
Ibc has a higher risk of recurrence than other types of breast cancer. It is the most lethal of the breast cancers, but an early diagnosis and quick start of treatment improves the chances of survival. Chemotherapy is usually begun within days of diagnosis. With new and upcoming treatment protocols, there is always hope of long-term survival.
We have all been positively conditioned to the fact that when a woman discovers a lump on her breast she should go to the doctor immediately, but how many people know that you don't have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Mammograms and ultrasounds are not enough.
Inflammatory carcinoma of the breast (aka inflammatory breast cancer) usually grows in nests or sheets, rather than as a confined, solid tumor; and therefore, it can be diffuse throughout the breast with no palpable mass. The cancer cells can clog the lymphatic system just below the skin. Lymph node involvement is often assumed. Increased breast density compared to prior mammograms should be considered suspicious.
A certain percentage of the women (and men) who are diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer are initially misdiagnosed. The symptoms are similar to mastitis, a relatively minor breast infection. Most physicians will prescribe antibiotics to rule out mastitis. If after a week, the symptoms do not dissipate, a biopsy should be performed.
Ibc has been diagnosed in very young women, and many patient members of an international web-based support group for inflammatory breast cancer at the ibc support web site are young women in their twenties and thirties. A surprising number of these young women were eventually diagnosed during pregnancy or during lactation. While young women normally are at lower risk for breast cancer, the fact that ibc is the most aggressive form of breast cancer, means that some of them have metastases or spread of the cancer to distant sites (stage iv) by the time a diagnosis is made.
Inflammatory carcinoma - signs and symptoms
one or more of the following are typical signs and symptoms:
* increase in breast size over a relatively short period of time (sometimes a cup size in a few days)
* itching (called pruritus) that is unrelenting and unrelieved by medicated creams and ointments
* pink, red, or dark-colored area (called erythema) sometimes with texture similar to the skin of an orange (called peau d'orange)
* ridges and thickened areas of the skin
* what appears to be a bruise that does not go away
* nipple flattening or retraction
* nipple discharge
* breast is excessively warm to the touch
* breast is harder or firmer than usual
* breast pain which is not cyclic in nature (may be constant or stabbing)
* change in color and/or texture of the dark pigmented area surrounding the nipple (also called areola or aureole)
* swollen lymph nodes in the underarm (called axillary) area or above the collarbone (called supraclavicle) area
* although a dominant mass is present in many cases, most inflammatory cancers present as diffuse infiltration of the breast without a well-defined tumor.
These symptoms may be present in non-cancerous (benign) breast disorders.
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you can view the inspiring stories of long-term survivors of inflammatory breast cancer and patients who are still courageously fighting the disease at: