Inflammatory breast cancer is rare, but it’s aggressive, fast-growing and hard to detect early, so it’s important to know the warning signs.
The American Cancer Society is working to raise awareness about this form of breast cancer, known also as IBC, which is responsible for about one to five percent of all breast cancer cases.
“IBC is tricky as it doesn’t usually present with a breast lump like many women expect when they think of a breast cancer. Instead, the disease causes inflammatory symptoms, like swelling and redness as cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin,” says Dr. William Dahut, chief scientific officer at the American Cancer Society.
“These symptoms may show up quickly — over just three to six months, so if you experience them, it is important to investigate with your health care team right away,” Dahut said in a Cancer Society news release.
Also unusual, IBC may not show up on a mammogram.
All cases of IBC are considered advanced to at least stage 3 because it can grow and spread more quickly than other forms of breast cancer and involves the skin.
By the time IBC is diagnosed, in about one-third of cases, it has already spread to distant parts of the body.
Who’s most at risk?
Those at risk for IBC are women under age 40, Black women and those who are overweight or obese.
What to look for
Warning signs include swelling of the skin of the breast, redness involving more than one-third of the breast and a pitting or thickening of the