Inflammatory Breast Cancer - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer?

Unlike the more common form of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer does not generally show up as a lump. The disease grows as nests or sheets that clog the lymph system under the skin. Often the symptoms are attributed to other diseases. Therefore, the diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer may be delayed.

Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include:

  • Pain in the breast. Often inflammatory breast cancer is mistaken as a breast infection and treated with antibiotics. If response to antibiotics doesn't occur after a week, request a breast biopsy or referral to a breast specialist.
  • Skin changes in the breast area. You may find pink or reddened areas often with the texture and thickness of an orange.
  • A bruise on the breast that doesn't go away.
  • Sudden swelling of the breast.
  • Itching of the breast.
  • Nipple retraction or discharge.
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes under the arm or in the neck.

These changes often occur quickly, over a period of weeks.

Return to Inflammatory Breast Cancer

See what others are saying

Comment from: sherri1964, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 01

My right breast got very big. I got red blotches in one area which I found out later was a form of skin cancer. My nipple was inverted a little. I have done chemotherapy, then I had both breasts removed. I have done 33 radiation treatments after I got my breasts removed. Now my next step is to see the plastic surgeon. This is very scary. We all just have to be brave and always think positive.

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Comment from: Violet, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 20

Four months after a lumpectomy and radiotherapy in 2006, I developed what doctors said was an infection in my breast. Six years later, after treatment for 15 of these infections, I have been diagnosed with cellulitis. The antibiotics have been a problem for me, as I have developed an intolerance to most, and allergic reactions to anything with penicillin make my situation even more intolerable. I have constantly told doctors I suspect inflammatory breast cancer and they have constantly sent me away, saying it definitely is not IBC. They have not done a biopsy and simply expect their word to be accepted, even though I have lost all faith in consultants because they did not diagnose even cellulitis. This month I have had two outbreaks, and to be honest, I have had enough. This week I am going to the GP and basically I am going to ask to be referred back to the consultant and from there, I will demand a biopsy be done to determine once and for all what the problem is. My health has deteriorated so much in the last six years I don't look like and I am not the person I used to be at all. I have tried to get back to being me, but feel lost now. Some days when the pain is really bad, I just want to lie down and die.

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