Inflammatory breast cancer makes up only one to five percent of all breast cancer cases. While this condition may be relatively rare, it is a very aggressive form of cancer, and it’s important for women and men to know the symptoms of IBC so they can recognize any early warning signs. Men can develop inflammatory breast cancer, but it is rare and typically occurs only in older men.

Symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Most breast cancers are easily detected by using mammograms or self-tests, but inflammatory breast cancer can actually be easier to recognize by the changes it causes in the breast’s outward appearance. Women and men who develop the disease often find irregularities in the shape, size, and color of their breasts. As the name suggests, the breasts may swell or change color. They typically become pink, red, orange, purplish, or even bruised-looking.

The breast’s skin might also change, becoming pitted or ridged. These changes in texture and color have been compared to that of an orange.

Risks of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

The relatively few women who do develop inflammatory breast cancer tend to be younger. In the United States, only one to five percent of women will get IBC. The onset of this disease often happens quickly. Sometimes inflammatory cancer can develop within just a few weeks, but at other times it might take a few months. Catching the disease early makes treatments more successful.

Diagnosing Inflammatory Breast Cancer

While the warning signs of inflammatory breast cancer are obvious and easily observed, you will need a doctor’s diagnosis to be confirm the presence of the disease. Doctors often use mammograms and ultrasounds to detect abnormal tissue inside the breast. They also perform biopsies to determine if any cells are cancerous. Inflammatory breast cancer is very aggressive and can spread to other parts of the body quickly, so it is important to get a diagnosis as soon as you suspect that you might have IBC.

Treating Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Those who are diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer usually take chemotherapy treatments to control and kill the cancerous cells. Following chemotherapy, doctors may use surgical treatments to remove cancerous tissues. They may also use radiation therapy and additional chemo to prevent a recurrence of the disease. Hormonal therapies may also be effective in keeping women in remission.

Because some of the treatments can cause unpleasant side effects, women who have access to supportive care are able to learn how to manage any side effects they experience. This care can improve their quality of life while they are undergoing treatment.

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