Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Inflammatory breast cancer: The other breast cancer

blog breast cancer hope

The link between a lump, a mammogram and breast cancer is so ingrained in American women that “the other breast cancer” is often overlooked — and misdiagnosed.

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a very aggressive form of breast cancer whose symptoms differ markedly from the standard invasive ductal carcinoma that represents at least 70 percent of breast cancers.

A lump is rarely the first sign of IBC, which makes it more difficult to detect and diagnose in the early stages of the disease. IBC can progress in a matter of weeks of months. Because the symptoms are similar to other conditions or may look like a rash or infection, most people are diagnosed at a later stage of the disease.

It’s important for women and men to know the symptoms of IBC:

  • Swelling and redness that affects one-third or more of the breast
  • A pink, reddish purple or bruised appearance of the skin
  • Ridges on the skin or a pitted appearance similar to the skin of an orange
  • A rapid increase in breast size
  • Sensations of heaviness, burning or tenderness in the breast
  • A nipple that is inverted
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the arm, near the collarbone or in both places

IBC is more common among younger adults, African-American women and obese women. In men, it typically occurs when they are older.

This October, let’s spread the message of hope and a different kind of Breast Cancer Awareness. In addition to getting regular mammograms, be on the lookout for rashes or other symptoms on the breasts. Don’t delay in having any new symptoms checked out by a physician.