Inflammatory Breast Cancer | Dr. Deepak Jha
May 19, 2022, 5:59 p.m.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer | Dr. Deepak Jha

Inflammatory breast cancer

Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare but aggressive type of breast cancer, that tends to rapidly grow in size. The cancer cells quickly involve and block lymph channels of the breast making the breast swollen, red and painful. Unfortunately, these signs are similar to a breast abscess or infection which is a much more common cause of swollen, redbreast. This often leads to a delay in medical attention and treatment, allowing this aggressive tumor more time to spread. So, in case you've been treated for a breast infection but are not getting any relief, you may be recommended a mammogram or other test to evaluate these signs and symptoms  

Diagnosis of Inflammatory breast cancer

Diagnosing inflammatory breast cancer is also difficult because unlike other forms of breast cancer, Inflammatory breast cancer does not usually present with a breast lump. Signs of Inflammatory breast cancer may include rapid swelling or change in the appearance of the breast, skin thickening, orange peel-like the appearance of breast skin, reddish appearance of the breast, a breast that is unusually warm to touch, disproportionately painful breast, lumps in armpit or above the collar bone, rapid change or inversion of the nipple. Its aggressive nature also means that routine annual mammograms can’t be solely dependent on early detection. In many cases, it is confused with infection of the breast. 

Fast onset of redness and swelling with warm skin and thickening should raise suspicion, especially if symptoms are of short duration. A biopsy may be advised and further tests like ER/PR and Her2neu may be done. 

Imaging and staging tests include a mammogram and ultrasound of the breast and regional (nearby) lymph nodes, a PET scan to see if cancer has spread to other parts of the body

Proper diagnosis and staging of inflammatory breast cancer help doctors develop the best treatment plan and estimate the likely outcome of the disease. Treatment is often multi-modality requiring surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. The approach is usually to start with chemotherapy to shrink the disease followed by surgery and radiation therapy.

Since Inflammatory breast cancer spreads fast and often presents at an advanced stage as compared to other types of breast cancer, it carries an inferior prognosis. An important fact is that these survival statistics are based on a large group of patients, so an individual person’s survival and prognosis could be better or worse, depending on her tumor biology and behavior and her health condition.



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