Inflammatory breast cancer makes up 1 to 3 percent of all breast cancer cases diagnosed yearly.
While most types of breast cancer advance quickly, this type is one of the fastest growing.
Unfortunately, it also has one of the highest mortality rates, when compared with other forms of breast cancer.
It has been found in women and men of all ages. In many cases this type of breast cancer is confused with other breast conditions, such as mastitis or infection.
However, because the cancer progresses so quickly and has such a high mortality rate, everyone should be aware of the symptoms and signs of the disease.
Signs and Symptoms of IBC
Unlike most types of breast cancer, this condition does not produce breast lumps or cysts that can be detected during a breast exam. IBC forms strings or sheets of cancerous cells, which can make the breast change in size or feel. Most women initially realize heaviness or swelling in one breast or both.
The breast may also become discolored or tender. Some IBC patients experience itching or pain, and the breast may become dimpled in appearance or rough.
Unlike other types of breast conditions, Inflammatory Breast Cancer does not cause heat or fever to develop in the breast. This should be the first sign that something more serious than an infection is occurring.
Treatment Options Available
Inflammatory Breast cancer must be treated in the same way as other forms of breast cancer. If your doctor prescribes antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs, they will not help. If you believe that you are suffering from IBC you may need to request blood tests or a biopsy for correct diagnosis and treatment.
Because the condition is so serious, you do not have time to see if the condition responds to antibiotics. Once you have been diagnosed properly, surgery is the best option for removing the cancer. Most women have a double mastectomy to insure all of the cells are removed.
In many cases, the physician may also want to remove the lymph nodes to insure the cancer has not spread. After surgery, radiation therapy is used to make sure all the cells are destroyed, and that the cancer does not come back.
In some cases you may need to undergo cancer chemotherapy as well. Chemotherapy can often shrink the cancer cells to insure that it can all be removed with surgery.
Early Diagnosis and Treatment are the Best Options
As with any form of cancer, early diagnosis and treatment is the key to survival. If you think you may be experiencing signs or symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer, you need to contact a doctor immediately.
You may have to be very insistent to receive proper diagnosis, as most physicians will want to start with the highest probable condition, and change the diagnosis if no response to medication is experienced.
However, it is best to endure a biopsy or blood work and be perfectly healthy, than to wait too long, and let the cancer spread to other organs.