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Inflammatory Breast Cancer

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Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is classified as a rare, rapid-growing cancer. IBC does not have the symptoms typical of other forms of breast cancer and may not be detected by mammogram or ultrasound.

What Causes it?

As defined by WebMD, IBC can start when normal lymph fluid flow is blocked, resulting in the breast looking swollen and red. The breast can even feel warm, as in the case of an infection. The swelling causes a number of small dimples in the skin.

List of Symptoms

A breast that is swollen, red and warm
A breast that is tender or painful
An area of itching in the breast
A recent change in the nipple, such as retraction
A change in the skin, think more on the line of the look of a dimpled orange peel
There may be ridges in the skin and small bumps that look like a rash or hives
An area of the breast that looks bruised
Swollen lymph glands (lymph nodes) in the armpit
One or more lumps in the breast

Diagnosis and Treatment

A biopsy is needed to diagnose this type of cancer. Since this is a fast-growing cancer, diagnosis is needed as soon as possible. It is important to remember that since this condition is rare, that it can be mistaken for something else – even a spider bite, an allergic reaction or an infection of the breast. Additionally, this type of cancer may not produce a breast lump. After the correct diagnosis, more tests will be ordered to determine how far the cancer has spread.

Treatment starts with anticancer drugs, namely, chemotherapy. Chemotherapy will help to shrink any cancer present. You may even have to be tested to see what kind of medication works best for you. After drug treatment, surgical removal of the breast and the lymph nodes are performed. Radiation treatment is then administered to kill any leftover abnormal cells. If the cancer is found in the lymph nodes, your medical team may want to give you more chemotherapy or hormone therapy.


Cancer can be very scary. Be sure to develop a plan for spiritual, mental, and emotional well-being. Support groups are very helpful for some individuals.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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