When you're first diagnosed with breast cancer, all you can
think about is "Am I going to die?" But as you begin to learn to live
with your cancer diagnosis, you start to think about other
things, like "What am I going to look like bald?" It may sound
frivolous, but ask any breast cancer survivor and she'll tell you that she
thought a lot about whether to splurge on that real human hair wig or
what she'd look like in a swimsuit.
Feeling good about how you look is an important part of feeling...
Inflammatory breast cancer is now separated from other forms of locally advanced breast cancer. It is marked by:
A shortened survival.
A higher incidence of HER2-positive and endocrine receptor negative cancers.
It is often diagnosed at a younger age compared to non-inflammatory locally advanced breast cancers.
What Are the Symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer?
Unlike the more common form of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer does not generally show up as a lump. The disease grows as nests or sheets that clog the lymph system under the skin. Often the symptoms are attributed to other diseases. Therefore, the diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer may be delayed.
Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include:
Pain in the breast. Often inflammatory breast cancer is mistaken as a breast infection and treated with antibiotics. If response to antibiotics doesn't occur after a week, request a breast biopsy or referral to a breast specialist.
Skin changes in the breast area. You may find pink or reddened areas often with the texture and thickness of an orange.
A bruise on the breast that doesn't go away.
Sudden swelling of the breast.
Itching of the breast.
Nipple retraction or discharge.
Swelling of the lymph nodes under the arm or in the neck.
These changes often occur quickly, over a period of weeks.
How Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer Diagnosed?
Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as another medical condition. It's important to pursue a breast or skin biopsy if treatment for another breast condition like an infection doesn't work.
How Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer Treated?
Inflammatory breast cancer is an aggressive cancer that can spread quickly. Treatment options include:
Surgery. Surgery involving a mastectomy may be performed after chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy. This is given before surgery to shrink the tumor and make the cancer operable. Chemotherapy also decreases the chance the cancer will recur.
Radiation. Often radiation is given after chemotherapy and surgery to reduce recurrence.