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Inflammatory Breast Cancer

An uncommon type of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer spreads quickly and causes the afflicted breast to become swollen, painful, and red. Breasts with inflammatory cancer have a recognizably red, swollen look because cancer cells obstruct the lymphatic veins in the skin surrounding the breast. A locally progressed malignancy, such as inflammatory breast cancer, has migrated from its original site to adjacent tissue and may even have reached nearby lymph nodes. Breast infections, which are a far more prevalent source of breast swelling and redness can be mistaken for inflammatory breast cancer rather readily. If you observe any changes in the skin of your breast, consult a doctor right away.




You might already be aware that there are many stages of breast cancer. These phases serve as a gauge for cancer's progression.


All IBC patients are either in stage 3 or stage 4 at the time of their diagnosis.


  • Stage 3: In stage 3 IBC, some of the tissues around the breast have been affected by the disease. This may comprise the tissues of the chest wall, the breast skin, and surrounding lymph nodes.


  • Stage 4: By the time an IBC patient reaches stage 4, cancer has spread to more distant parts of the body, like the lungs, liver, or bones. The term for this is metastasis. The ACS estimates that IBC festers in around 1 in 3 diagnoses.





The skin of the breast undergoes noticeable alterations as a result of inflammatory breast cancer. The skin may acquire a pink color or develop an "orange peel" look, appearing bloated and dimpled.


Inflammatory breast cancer exhibits the same symptoms of inflammation as a mastitis-related breast infection, like redness, warmth, swelling, or discomfort. If you experience any of these abnormalities in the breast, it's critical to schedule an immediate appointment with your gynecologist or primary care physician.


Schedule a visit with a breast specialist right away if the irritation does not subside after one week of taking the antibiotics your doctor prescribed to treat it.




Your doctor may presume inflammatory breast cancer if you have breast swelling or redness that persists and doesn't improve after a week of antibiotic treatment. A more thorough examination of your breast will be provided by ultrasound as well as other imaging techniques.


One or more of the following may be prescribed by your doctor:


  • Mammogram: This can demonstrate if the skin of the afflicted breast is thicker or dense than that of the other breast.
  • A Breast Ultrasound: This imaging technique uses sound waves to provide a picture of the interior of your breast. It can help find changes that mammography misses.
  • MRI: It creates images of your breast and inside body structures using strong magnets and radio waves.
  • PET Imaging: This test, when combined with a CT scan, can aid in the detection of cancer in the lymph nodes and other parts of the body.
  • Biopsy: it is a conclusive test employed for the diagnosis of cancer.




Chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation are often used to treat inflammatory breast cancer.


  • Chemotherapy: Drugs are used to kill cancer cells during chemotherapy for breast cancer. Chemotherapy can be administered orally or intravenously (via a vein). Cancer cells are made smaller by chemotherapy, making them easier to remove during surgery. After surgery, you can also take chemotherapy to eradicate any cancer cells that might have persisted.


  • Surgery: During surgery, the entire affected breast (mastectomy) and surrounding lymph nodes are removed. Less aggressive procedures that remove tissue while keeping your breast intact do not work well for IBC. The cancer is spreading far too quickly.


  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy destroys cancer cells by using a machine to concentrate energy on the malignancy. After surgery, you can have radiation therapy to get rid of any cancer cells the operation might have missed.


Risk factors:


Inflammatory breast cancer can affect anybody, but several things may make it more likely.


  1. Gender: IBC may afflict anyone of any gender, however, it is more prevalent in women.
  2. Age: Individuals with IBC are often less advanced in age than those with other types of breast cancer. Women and AFAB under the age of 40 are most frequently diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. The diagnostic age is 57 on average.
  3. Race: Compared to Caucasians, Black people have a higher likelihood to be diagnosed with IBC.
  4. Weight: Compared to persons with a BMI that is within the normal range, those who are obese or overweight are much more likely to be diagnosed.




IBC, a rare kind of cancer that develops swiftly, is characterized by the inflammation of the breast. If you detect changes in your breasts, particularly if one breast changes but not the other, schedule a visit with a medical professional right away. The alterations might be an indication of an infection or another, less dangerous illness. However, IBC spreads quickly. You should start treatment right away if your symptoms indicate inflammatory breast cancer. Don't wait to get the treatment that could enhance your prognosis.

Dr Rajeev Agarwal
Cancer Care
Meet The Doctor
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