Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare and aggressive type of breast cancer that accounts for approximately 1% to 5% of all breast cancer cases in the United States. Unlike other types of breast cancer, IBC typically does not present as a lump or mass, but rather as redness, swelling, warmth, and tenderness in the breast. These symptoms are caused by cancer cells blocking the lymph vessels in the breast, leading to a buildup of fluid and swelling.
Diagnosis of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
IBC is usually diagnosed through a combination of physical examination, imaging tests (such as mammography, ultrasound, or MRI), and a biopsy to confirm the presence of cancer cells. Treatment for IBC typically involves a combination of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy.
Because IBC is aggressive and spreads quickly, early diagnosis and treatment are critical to improving outcomes. It is important for women to be aware of the symptoms of IBC, which can develop rapidly over the course of days or weeks. If you notice any changes in your breast, such as redness, swelling, or a rash, see your doctor as soon as possible for evaluation.
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer that accounts for only 1-5% of all breast cancer cases. It is called inflammatory because the affected breast typically becomes swollen, red, and warm, giving the appearance of an infection or inflammation. IBC tends to grow and spread rapidly, making it a particularly challenging type of breast cancer to diagnose and treat.
Causes of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
The exact causes of IBC are not fully understood, but research suggests that several factors may play a role in its development. These include:
Genetic Mutations in Inflammatory Breast Cancer
In some cases, IBC may be linked to specific genetic mutations that increase the risk of breast cancer.
Hormonal imbalances, such as those associated with early onset of menstruation, late onset of menopause, or use of hormone replacement therapy, may increase the risk of IBC.
Exposure to certain environmental toxins, such as chemicals in plastics or pesticides, may increase the risk of IBC.
Certain lifestyle factors, such as obesity, lack of exercise, and a diet high in fat, may increase the risk of breast cancer, including IBC.
Symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
The symptoms of IBC can develop quickly & often appear suddenly. Thus, making it a particularly challenging type of breast cancer to diagnose. Some of the most common symptoms of IBC include:
IBC often causes the breast to become swollen, firm, and tender.
The skin over the affected breast may become red, inflamed, and warm to the touch.
The skin over the affected breast may also become thickened, giving it a dimpled or peau d’orange appearance.
IBC may cause aching or stabbing pain in the affected breast.
Nipple changes in Inflammatory Breast Cancer
The nipple may become inverted, flattened, or appear to be pulled inward.
Lymph node involvement
IBC often spreads quickly to nearby lymph nodes, causing them to become swollen and tender.
Treatment of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Treatment for IBC typically involves a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. In some cases, targeted therapy or hormone therapy may also be used.
Surgery is often the first step in treating IBC. The goal of surgery is to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. Depending on the extent of the cancer, a mastectomy may be required.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. It is typically used after surgery to help destroy any remaining cancer cells.
Chemotherapy is a type of drug treatment that uses powerful drugs to kill cancer cells. It is typically used before surgery to shrink the tumor and after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.
Targeted therapy uses drugs that target specific proteins or genes that are involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. It is often used in combination with chemotherapy.
Hormone therapy for Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Hormone therapy is used to treat breast cancers that are hormone receptor-positive. It works by blocking the hormones that fuel the growth of cancer cells.
Prognosis of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
The prognosis for IBC is generally poorer than for other types of breast cancer, due to its aggressive nature and tendency to spread quickly. However, with early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, many women with IBC can achieve remission and long-term survival.
Hence, inflammatory breast cancer is a rare but aggressive form of breast cancer that requires prompt diagnosis and aggressive treatment. Women should be aware of the symptoms of IBC and seek medical attention if they experience any unusual changes in their breasts