IBC is a rare, fast-growing and aggressive cancer. It can spread in just a few weeks, and is often mistaken for something other than breast cancer, such as a rash or infection. Survival for women with IBC can be impeded by delays in diagnosis, a lack of expertise in treating IBC and its resistance to treatment with standard chemotherapy. IBC represents up 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancer cases diagnosed each year in the United States.
Symptoms of IBC may include redness, swelling, and warmth in the breast, often without a distinct lump in the breast. The redness and warmth are caused by cancer cells blocking the lymph vessels in the skin. The skin of the breast may also appear pink, reddish purple, or bruised. The skin may also have ridges or appear pitted, like the skin of an orange (peau d'orange) which is caused by a buildup of fluid and swelling in the breast. Other symptoms include heaviness, burning, aching, increase in breast size, tenderness, or a nipple that is inverted. These symptoms usually develop quickly—over a period of weeks or months. However, it is important to note that these symptoms may also be signs of other conditions such as infection, injury, or other types of cancer.
IBC is typically treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and adjuvant medications as determined by the results of a pathology report.
IBC requires special attention as it is generally diagnosed in younger women compared to non-IBC breast cancer. It occurs more frequently and at a younger age in African Americans than in Whites.
As always, if you notice a change, get it looked at by your physician. We all think we're too young for breast cancer....we're not.