Blast from the Past – Women Need to Know This – Inflammatory Breast Cancer

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month I am reposting this information on Inflammatory Breast Cancer.  This post first appeared on :

The following post was written by Whymommy at Toddler Planet

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, in fact, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer? I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked … funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes:

  • redness,
  • rapid increase in size of one breast,
  • persistent itching of breast or nipple,
  • thickening of breast tissue,
  • stabbing pain,
  • soreness,
  • swelling under the arm,
  • dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while),
  • flattening or retracting of the nipple,
  • or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange).

Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.There is more than one kind of breast cancer.

Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it.

Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

Help WhyMommy kick cancer's ass

P.S. Feel free to steal this post too. I’d be happy for anyone in the blogosphere to take it and put it on their site, no questions asked. Dress it up, dress it down, let it run around the place barefoot. I don’t care. But I want the word to get out. I don’t want another young mom — or old man — or anyone in between — to have to stare at this thing on their chest and wonder, is it mastitis? Is it a rash? Am I overreacting? This cancer moves FAST, and early detection and treatment is critical for survival.

Thank you.

For more information:
Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Photos of IBC
(WARNING EXPLICIT BREAST PICTURES…but you need to know what to look for.)



Filed under Breast Cancer, Cancer, Family, Health, Illness

7 responses to “Blast from the Past – Women Need to Know This – Inflammatory Breast Cancer

  1. Check out their Memphis office!

  2. Melissa Ganime

    I will go in Monday and get a referral. I live in the boot-heel of Missouri, I know there are no breast specialist in this area most of the time when a specialist is needed we look to St. Louis, MO or to the south in Memphis, TN. do you have an suggestions on how to find someone familiar with IBC? because most of what I am reading leads me to believe most doctors have never even seen it? Thanks so much for your reply. It is good to know someone else has been in the same situation. Thanks again.


  3. Hi Melissa!

    You need to get to another doctor right away. Don’t wait for the antibiotics…come Monday morning call your doctor and ask for a referral to a breast specialist for a second opinion and don’t take no for an answer even if you have to march into their office and make a scene. This is not something that you can wait an see. They will have to do a biopsy of your skin and tissue to see if is it IBC…they can’t tell just by a mammogram. Tell them you are concerned and would rather go through all the trouble and be proven wrong than wait and then wonder why someone didn’t catch it sooner.

    Good luck and make sure to come back to my blog post and let me know!!!

    Thinking of you!!!

  4. Melissa Ganime

    I sit here tonight at my computer looking for pictures of what a breast with IBC looks like to compare with my own I have been on two types of antibiotics in the last two weeks with no improvement for what is thought to be mastitis, today I started a third type of antibiotic due to an allergic reaction to the last one. I was sent for a mammogram which was NL and an ultrasound which only showed a significant thickening in the area where I am having problems the radiologist told me she didn’t see any type of tumors or nodules abscesses ect. and told me to follow up with my doctor if my symptoms did not improve with antibiotics because there is a type of cancer that is rare but can cause thickness in the breast ect. ! I also have Lupus and take steroids on a daily basis which can mask the signs and symptoms of infection like redness ect. I have also found info online about something called Lupus Mastitis which is also a rare condition. I don’t know. I am just very frustrated. My mother was dx with invasive cell ductal carcinoma 6 years ago and had a double mastectomy she remains cancer free. I am 37 and the mother of 5 and have no plans of going anywhere soon! Any suggestions? Thanks for the information you have posted and for giving people like me some where to turn on a Friday night when there are no doctors offices open!

  5. Am here from Roop’s blog. I really appreciate your comments there- and this post, yes it is a really relevant one.

  6. You most likely have saved a life today!

    That is the point. 🙂

  7. Thank you SO very much for your post on Inflammatory Breast Cancer! You most likely have saved a life today! Did you know that the States of WA, IL,NY, MI and FL have Proclamations that state October will be Inflammatory Breast Cancer Awareness week/month? Why Mommy has inspired us all with her courage, her tenacity and sense of humor. Thank you again for educating so many .. bless your heart!
    Marilyn ‘Mare’ Kirschenbaum
    Vice President
    Inflammatory Breast Cancer Foundation