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Inflammatory Breast Disease


What is Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)?

IBC is the most aggressive form of breast cancer, with a faster doubling time than other breast cancers. Doubling time is the time it takes for cancer cells to divide and grow. IBC usually grows in nests or sheets in the breast rather than a solid tumor.

What are the symptoms of IBC?

  • Rapid, unusual increase in breast size
  • Redness, rash, blotchiness or other skin color changes on the breast
  • Persistent itching of breast or nipple
  • Lump or thickening of breast tissue
  • Stabbing pain and/or soreness of breast
  • Feverish breast
  • Swelling of lymph nodes under the arm or above the collarbone
  • Dimpling or ridging of breast
  • Flattening or retraction of nipple
  • Nipple discharge or change in pigmented area around nipple

Although the above symptoms may indicate a benign breast disorder, any change to your breast(s) should be reported to your doctor immediately. In addition, these symptoms may appear quickly and suddenly.

How is IBC treated?

Current treatment starts with chemotherapy, which usually continues until there is sufficient clinical response to permit surgery. A modified radical mastectomy and axillary lymph node dissection are performed. Radiation and possibly more chemotherapy follow. In some cases hormonal treatment is used. Individual treatment can vary depending on specific circumstances. It is important to find a physician familiar with IBC to receive the best possible treatment.

My doctor says I'm too young to have IBC. Is that possible?

IBC can occur at any age, although the incidence of IBC is higher in younger women. Though rare, even teenagers have been diagnosed with IBC.

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