In response to videos implying women delay going to the doctor with symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer, I have been asked to write a clarification of the differences between what many would call 'regular' breast cancer and IBC.
Dr. Massimo Cristofanilli, an advocate of inflammatory breast cancer, opened the first IBC clinic at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston Texas, October 21, 2006. His vision and goal of gathering physicians, scientists and advocates to form a Global IBC group came to life on December 5, 2008 with the first International IBC Conference. Held in Houston, TX people came from all over the world. The Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Program and Clinic now house a large data base from which needed research can be accessed.
"There is quite a bit of confusion in the way advanced breast cancer (including IBC) is described. Locally advanced breast cancer (LABC) is a general term for a large breast tumor with involved lymph nodes (essentially stage III)," said Dr. Cristofanilli.
The typical case of non-IBC will develop from a few cells forming a nodule that grows over time, sometimes involving all the breast and possibly reaching the skin. This process takes months, sometimes years. Usually the tumor is palpable from the initial presentation.
IBC is totally different. The breast can grow and become red and swollen in a matter of days or just a few weeks without palpable mass.
The only similarity between "regular breast cancer" and IBC, is the use of selected treatments based on the characteristics of (REGULAR) breast cancer cells (e.g. HER-2 with Herceptin)."
As president of the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Foundation, I speak almost daily to women from all over the United States, and sometimes from around the world. They come seeking help because they have been diligent with their bodies and know what they are experiencing is not normal.