Pictures of inflammatory breast cancer

We hear a great deal about prevention and early detection in cancer. While cancer prevention may never be 100 percent effective, many things (such as quitting smoking and eating healthy foods) can greatly reduce a person’s risk for developing cancer, the causes for IBC are unknown and there is not a form of detection prior to a stage three.

Once breast cancer spreads from the breast to other parts or systems of the body, it is considered metastatic breast cancer and is classified as Stage 4. Tests can determine if and how IBC has spread to other parts of the body.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer: The Subtle Form of Breast Cancer

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Rash

Pictures of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Other symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include a rapid increase in breast size; sensations of heaviness, burning, or tenderness in the breast; or a nipple that is inverted (facing inward). Swollen lymph nodes may also be present under the arm, near the collarbone, or both.

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Redness and Swelling

Unlike many other types of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer does not typically start with a distinct lump or tumor in the breast that can be felt or isolated. But when the lymph vessels of the breast (the small tubes that drain lymph fluid away from the breast tissue and carry it to the lymph nodes) become blocked by breast cancer cells, symptoms begin to appear.

To help prevent delays in diagnosis and in choosing the best course of treatment, an international panel of experts published guidelines on how doctors can diagnose and stage inflammatory breast cancer correctly. Their recommendations are summarized below.

How is inflammatory breast cancer treated?

Pictures of inflammatory breast cancer

There's Usually No Lump in This Rare, Aggressive Form of Breast Cancer ...

Inflammatory breast cancer is rare but can occur in women and men of any age. It’s one of the few breast cancers that’s known to affect people younger than 40, although the average age at diagnosis is 52. Additionally:

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Inflammatory breast cancer vs. breast infection

Mastitis can affect any woman, but most often occurs in breastfeeding mothers. Breast tissue may become inflamed or infected as a result of clogged milk ducts or dry, cracked skin on a nipple. Common treatment approaches for mastitis include taking antibiotics or pain relievers, staying hydrated and regularly emptying the breast of milk. Mastitis should resolve quickly with treatment—if your symptoms don’t improve after a week of taking antibiotics, it’s important to let your physician know.

Descriptions of ongoing clinical trials for individuals with inflammatory breast cancer can be accessed by searching NCI’s list of cancer clinical trials. NCI’s list of cancer clinical trials includes all NCI-supported clinical trials that are taking place across the United States and Canada, including the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD. For information about how to search the list, see Help Finding NCI-Supported Clinical Trials.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)

Ongoing research, especially at the molecular level, will increase our understanding of how inflammatory breast cancer begins and progresses. This knowledge should enable the development of new treatments and more accurate prognoses for women diagnosed with this disease. It is important, therefore, that women who are diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer talk with their doctor about the option of participating in a clinical trial.

There is no clear cause of inflammatory breast cancer.

Inflammatory breast cancer rashes are caused by a blockage of lymph vessels (small drainage tubes) in the breast that results in redness, swelling, and inflammation. For some, the rash or bruise may be persistent and not go away. For others, the rash or bruise may come and go over a period of time. However, rashes and other symptoms often become worse and more persistent as the cancer progresses.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

We invite you to visit Moffitt—Florida’s No. 1 cancer hospital—if you’d like to have a breast rash evaluated by a specialist or receive a second or third opinion regarding inflammatory breast cancer treatment. No referrals are necessary to visit Moffitt, and you’ll be connected with a professional in less than 24 hours after you contact us. To get started, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online.

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How is inflammatory breast cancer diagnosed?

According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year relative survival rate for Stage 3 IBC is 52%. However, with advances in early detection and aggressive treatment, the survival rate for inflammatory breast cancer patients has improved significantly in recent years.

Moffitt Cancer Center’s Don & Erika Wallace Comprehensive Breast Program is home to multispecialty team that focuses exclusively on breast malignancies. As a high-volume cancer center, our experts have an unparalleled level of experience treating uncommon and complex diseases like inflammatory breast cancer. Moffitt also works diligently to discover breakthroughs in treatment through our trailblazing clinical trial program, which gives eligible patients access to promising new therapies before they’re made widely available.

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