- March 27, 2019
- Posted by: Dr. Amit Gandhi
- Category: CANCER, Uncategorized
You must have witnessed some people experiencing severe breast cancer symptoms. Probably, one of the reasons for this can be inflammatory breast cancer.
If you have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer and experiencing aggressive symptoms, then this can be because of inflammatory breast cancer. In this post, we will bust out an overview of inflammatory breast cancer and important symptoms that you must notice for.
What is Inflammatory Breast Cancer?
Though rare, inflammatory breast cancer or IBC is highly aggressive kind of cancer. Around 1-3% of females across the world experience this kind of cancer.
This kind of breast cancer occurs when the lymph vessels within the breast’s skin are blocked by malignant cells. Unlike other kinds of breast cancers, this cancer does not usually do not cause a mass or lump.
Under this condition, the lymph nodes present near the breasts is blocked by cells. For this reason, the lymph vessels in the breast are not able to properly drain. So, rather than forming a tumor, this cancer swells up your breast and causes changes in its appearance. A breast affected by the inflammatory breast cancer appears thick and pitted, similar to an orange peel.
The bad thing about IBC is that it is highly aggressive and progresses quickly. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to consult your doctor right away as soon as you notice any signs.
Hence, it is necessary that you stay aware of the prominent signs of inflammatory breast cancer.
Symptoms or Signs of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Since IBC is an aggressive kind of breast cancer, so this disease expands extremely fast and within a few days. In just a few weeks or months, you might suffer from severe issues. Therefore, it is vital to receive an early diagnosis.
There is no lump or mass developed by this breast cancer, so must keep notice of the following signs to notice the occurrence of this cancer.
- Discoloration of the Breast
The common and early symptom of IBC is breast discoloration. A small part of your breast may appear purple, pink, or red.
This discoloration appears as a bruise and you may, therefore, consider it not a serious problem. But remember, redness of the breast is a prominent symptom of inflammatory breast cancer. Hence, don’t ignore it.
- Pain in the Breast
IBC is breast cancer with inflammatory nature. So, your breast may feel and look different. Further, the inflammation can make your breast feel warm. In addition to this, your breast may experience pain and tenderness.
Even, it would be uncomfortable for you to lie on your stomach. If the pain or tenderness is severe then one may find it difficult to wear clothes in the upper body part. Along with this, IBC can lead to continuous itching in the breast, particularly around the nipple.
- Change in Appearance of the Nipple
Another common sign of inflammatory breast cancer is a change in the shape of the nipple of the affected breast. In this condition, the nipple may retract from inside and appear flat.
For this, your doctor would perform a pinch test to determine whether the nipples are inverted or flat. Under this test, you have to place your index finger and thumb around the areola and squeeze it gently. While a normal nipple moves backward or forwards after pinching, an affected nipple will not move in any direction. It is because the pinch causes the inverted nipple to retract within the breast.
An inverted or flat nipple does not necessarily imply that a person has inflammatory breast cancer. It is normal for some people to have such nipples. But if there is any change then contact your doctor immediately.
- Dimpling in the Skin
Pitted skin or skin dimpling is another sign of inflammatory breast cancer. Skin dimpling is a symptom of high concern and makes your skin appear as an orange peel.
- Enlargement of Lymph Nodes
IBC can also lead to enlarged lymph nodes. So, if there are any such lymph nodes above the collarbone or under your arm then contact your doctor immediately.
- Unexpected Change in the Breast Size
An attack of IBC can also lead to change in breast appearance. This can be a sudden change. Since IBC leads to swelling or inflammation of the breast, so it can lead to an increase in thickness and enlargement of the breast.
In this condition, the affected breast tends to witness noticeable change and your breast may appear larger than other breasts. Or, your breast may feel hard or heavy inside. Alternatively, some women with IBC may experience a decrease in the size of breast or breast shrinkage.
Hence, if your breast were always symmetrical and now there is a sudden decrease or increase in its size, you must speak with your doctor for this kind of cancer.
Is it Surely Inflammatory Breast Cancer?
You must be having this question in mind while reading this post.
One thing that you must keep in the notice is that the above symptoms may not necessarily be of inflammatory breast cancer. It is because similar signs can appear in case of mastitis, or an infection in the breast.
- What is Mastitis?
Mastitis is an infection in the breast that can lead to pain, redness, and swelling in the breasts. Such a condition is common among breastfeeding females, but in some cases, it can develop in women who are not breastfeeding.
This infection is caused because of blockage of milk duct or occurrence of bacterial infection in the skin through a break or cracks around the nipple region.
- Symptoms of Mastitis
In addition to the abovementioned symptoms, Mastitis may be accompanied with other signs like nipple discharge, headache, and fever.
Since the symptoms of IBC and Mastitis may intervene, so it is best to get a diagnosis done beforehand. If the condition is diagnosed as mastitis, then your condition will improve in just a few days. In rare cases, mastitis can lead to a breast abscess, which your doctor has to drain.
What You Must Do Next?
If you are diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, then your immediate next step must be to consult your doctor and identify the stage of cancer. In this condition, your doctor would perform imaging tests, like bone scan or CT, to identify if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes near to the breast or other body parts.
The treatment process for inflammatory breast cancer involves:
- Chemotherapy – It is a treatment offered a combination of drugs to eliminate cancer cells.
- Surgery – A surgical process is performed to remove the affected breast and lymph nodes.
- Radiation Therapy – This treatment process involves the use of high-power energy beams to damage and combat the spread of cancerous cells.
On a Concluding Note
The diagnosis of cancer is frightening and devastating. But you can beat this disease completely with its early diagnosis and starting the treatment as soon as possible.
You must seek necessary support during the treatment to cope up with the ailment. It is good if you have knowledge about your condition and possible treatment options. This way, it would be possible for you to combat inflammatory breast cancer completely.