Pin Me

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

written by: Sylvie Colette • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 8/31/2010

It is not clear what the exact causes of inflammatory breast cancer are. What doctors do know is that it grows quickly and is very aggressive; at diagnosis it is often considered to be at least stage III. Learn the signs and symptoms of IBC, inflammatory breast cancer in this article.

  • slide 1 of 4

    What is Inflammatory Breast Cancer

    Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare form of breast cancer. It is unfortunately easy to confuse with a breast infection. Since the cancer advances rapidly, it is important to have it checked by a medical professional as soon as symptoms occur. The causes of inflammatory breast cancer will take a back seat if your faced with any of the symptoms. Even if it turns out to be a easily treatable infection, getting checked out immediately is important.

    The redness, warmth and swelling show up due to the increased blood flow in the area. This kind of cancer rarely causes a lump or any of the typical signs of breast cancer. Mammograms may not catch inflammatory breast cancer. It can be hard to diagnose, because it doesn't look like most people think breast cancer should look.

  • slide 2 of 4

    What Are the Causes of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

    There are risk factors, but like most cancers the exact cause is not known. It is known that inflammatory breast cancer begins in one of the breast's ducts. One abnormal cell begins to mutate and continues to grow and divide extremely rapidly. The accumulating abnormal cells end up clogging the lymphatic vessels. This affects the look and feel of your breast. The disease grows as nests that clog the lymph system. The following symptoms can come on quickly, over a period of a few weeks.

    • Pain. Breast pain like an ache or stabbing pain can both be misdiagnosed as a regular infection and given antibiotics. If there isn't any response, it is important to be proactive and ask for a referral to a specialist.
    • Change in color and texture of the areola, thicker skin or bumpy texture like an orange peel.
    • Bruises. Sudden bruising for no reason.
    • Swelling of the breast or of the lymph nodes, swelling quickly, a full cup size in a few days is possible.
    • Itching.
    • Nipple retraction or discharge.
  • slide 3 of 4

    Risk Factors

    While not specifically causes of inflammatory breast cancer, there are some known risk factors that seem to increase the risk of getting it. These include:

    • Women. Men can develop inflammatory breast cancer, but it is more common in women. Men who develop this form of cancer tend to be older than women.
    • Pregnant and lactating. There is a link between the risk of inflammatory breast cancer and pregnancy.
    • Hispanic and African American. Both nationalities are at a higher risk than Caucasian women and men. Hispanic women tend to develop inflammatory breast cancer earlier than African Americans and Caucasian women.
    • Older women. The risk factors increase over the age of 50.
    • Family history. Strong family history of cancer is especially relevant if the cancer involves both breasts, an ovary or was diagnosed at a young age.
  • slide 4 of 4

    References

    Mayo Clinic - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/inflammatory-breast-cancer/DS00632/DSECTION=causes

    American Cancer Society - http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/MoreInformation/InflammatoryBreastCancer/index