What Are the Symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer?


Breast Cancer,stage 4 breast cancer, symptoms, metastatic cancer

What is inflammatory breast cancer?

IBC occurs when cancer cells block the lymphatic vessels in the breast skin, which is a rare and aggressive type of breast cancer. ACS says that only 1 to 5 percent of breast cancer cases are caused by this.

In contrast to other breast cancers, IBC usually manifests as a non-tender lump or mass. Because of this, it can hide on breast cancer screening techniques such as mammograms, making it harder to diagnose (1)

Due to the aggressive nature of IBC, it is essential to be able to recognize the signs of inflammatory breast cancer and speak with a doctor right away if you find any changes in your breast (2).

Irritated breast cancer signs and symptoms

Within weeks or months, IBC can progress rapidly. Early diagnosis is therefore extremely important.

Breast cancer generally doesn’t develop a lump like other types, however several of these symptoms may exist (3).

Symptoms of breast discoloration

Discoloration of the breast, typically in a small section of the breast, is an early sign of IBC. It can show up as red, pink, or purple. According to the National Cancer Institute, breast discoloration can affect a third or more of the breast.(4)

Discolorations can look like bruises, so you may think there is nothing wrong with them. Although breast redness isn't a typical breast cancer symptom, it can be one. It is important not to disregard unexplained bruising on your breast.

Pain in the breast

Your breasts may look and feel different as a result of breast cancer's inflamed nature. For instance, an inflammatory condition can make your breast feel warm to the touch. Breasts may also be tender and painful (5).

A stomach tuck may make you uncomfortable. Wearing a bra depending on the level of tenderness can also be very painful. IBC can cause pain and tenderness in the breast, as well as persistent itching, especially in the area around the nipple.

Dimpling of the skin

Another tell-tale sign of IBC is pitted, dimpling skin. Skin discoloration — such as orange peel dimples — can be a cause for concern (7).

Nipple appearance changes

The nipple may change shape as another early sign of IBC. Your nipple may become flat inside the breast, or it may recede within it.

You can tell if your nipples are flat by pinching them. Then, gently squeeze your thumb and forefinger around your areola. A normal nipple moves forward after pinching. Flat nipples do not advance or retreat. With a pinch, an inverted nipple is retracted into the breast (8)(9).

You don't necessarily have IBC if your nipples are inverted or flat. It is not uncommon for some women to have nipples like those, so there is no cause for concern. Nevertheless, if the nipples change, you should consult a doctor immediately(10).

Increased lymph nodes

Increased IBC can lead to enlarging lymph nodes. Do not ignore any enlarged lymph nodes under or above your neck or above your collarbone. Consult your doctor immediately (11 , 12, 13).

Sudden breast enlargement

Breasts can change the way they look because of IBC. This change can occur suddenly. Breast enlargement or tumor thickness are possible with this cancer because it can cause inflammation and swelling.

It may appear noticeable that the affected breast is larger or heavier than the other breast(14).

IBC can cause sudden changes in the size of one breast unless you have previously had symmetrical breasts.

Inflammatory breast cancer has three stages.

You probably know that breast cancer comes in different stages. The stages of cancer indicate the severity of the disease.

When diagnosed with IBC, all cases will be in stages 3 or 4:

  1. Stage 3. Cancer has spread to some of the tissues around the breast in stage 3 IBC. There may be tissues around the chest wall, nearby lung nodes, and skin of the breast.

  2. Stage 4. When cancer spreads more distantly into the lungs, liver, or bones is stage 4 IBC. A metastatic process occurs in this way. About 1 in 3 diagnoses of IBC has metastasized according to the ACS(15).

Inflammatory breast cancer survival rates

An individual's life expectancy is determined based on survival rates for a specific type of cancer. Five-year survival rates are commonly used to assess how long survival rates will last for patients with a specific cancer type.

Statistics on how long patients are expected to live are based on the extent of cancer's spread at five years. According to the International Business Council, these are the members:

  1. (Stage 3): 56 percent

  2. (Stage 4) Distant: 19 percent

  3. 41 percent overall

We use a fairly large number of patients to compute the 5-year survival rates, so it’s important to keep this in mind when looking at these rates. They cannot predict how each particular situation will unfold because of this.

How can inflammatory breast cancer be detected?

It is very important to diagnose IBC early because growing and spreading IBC can happen very rapidly. IBCs need only meet the following diagnostic criteria:

  1. A sudden increase in breast redness, swelling, warmth, or firmness without the presence of a visible lump or mass

  2. A third or more of the breast has redness

  3. more than 6 months have been symptomatic

  4. A biopsy can identify cancer cells.

In this section, we’ll examine clinical diagnostic tests that can assist in detecting inflammatory bowel disease in greater detail (16).


X-rays are used in a mammogram to examine the breast for indications of cancer. Mammograms are performed by compressing breasts while taking X-rays. In this way, breast tissue can be visualized more clearly.

It may be difficult to detect IBC because mammograms usually don’t detect detectable lumps with IBC. Further, obtaining the compression through IBC can be difficult, since breast pain is often associated with it (17).

Ultrasound of breasts

With an ultrasound, a picture of the breast tissue is created by using sound waves. These images can show changes in breast tissue that are very likely to indicate cancer. Additionally, breast ultrasounds can be used to examine the lymph nodes surrounding the breast (18).

MRIs can be used to evaluate breast cancer.

Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can also provide images of breast tissue. MRIs generate images without the use of radiation but instead make use of strong magnets and radio waves.

Breast MRI can identify cancerous breast changes with the highest sensitivity. The result is that it is commonly used to diagnose IBC.

Breast biopsies

You will be asked to provide a small sample of breast tissue during the breast biopsy. In the laboratory, signs of cancer will be evaluated afterward. The biopsy may be used to detect cancer cells for:

  1. Grade: The grade of a cancer is based on how much the cells look like normal cells under a microscope. Cells with a higher grade appear more abnormal and are more likely to grow and spread quickly.

  2. HER2: HER2 is a receptor that’s overexpressed on the surface of some cancer cells. Cancer that’s HER2-positive can grow and spread more rapidly, but can also be treated using drugs that specifically target the HER2 receptor. Many IBCs are HER2-positive.

  3. Hormone receptors: Some breast cancer cells have receptors for estrogen and progesterone. These hormones can drive the growth of cancer. While most IBCs are hormone-receptor negative, those that are positive may be treated using hormone therapy drugs (19).

What are the treatment options?

Your doctor will next stage your cancer after you’ve been diagnosed with IBC. Additional tests may be ordered by your doctor so she can see if you have cancer. spreading to nearby lymph nodes or to other parts of the body. Some of these things include:

  1. The chest X-ray

  2. A CT scan

  3. Scan of the bone

  4. a blood test to look at liver function

stage 3 cancer that is inflamed is being treated

A multimodal approach is typically used to treat stage 3 IBC, which involves a combination of the following three treatments:

  1. Systemic therapies. Systemic therapies impact organs and tissues throughout your body and can help to shrink the cancer before surgery. Some examples of systemic therapies include:

    1. chemotherapy, which uses strong drugs to kill cancer cells or slow their growth

    2. targeted therapy, which can specifically target cells that are HER2-positive

    3. hormone therapy, which can block the activity of hormone receptors on cancer cells

  2. Surgery. Due to the aggressive nature of IBC, breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) isn’t typically recommended. Instead, surgery removes the affected breast and lymph nodes. This is called a modified radical mastectomy.

  3. Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses high-power energy beams to destroy and stop the spread of cancerous cells. It’s used after surgery to help destroy any cancer cells that may remain. Additional systemic therapies may be used after surgery as well.

Stage 4 treatment of inflammatory breast cancer 

The systemic therapies mentioned above are typically used to treat cancer that has spread to distant areas of the body. The following are some examples:

  1. cancer chemotherapy

  2. target therapy

  3. Hormone therapies

What causes

IBC occurs for unclear reasons. General genetic changes are responsible for the development of cancer. There are a variety of factors that can lead to these types of issues, including:

  1. your parents pass on genetic changes to you

  2. Cell division errors naturally occur

  3. environmental exposures damage DNA

It is not uncommon for cell growth and division genes to change due to mutations. A cell's growth and division can spiral out of control when this occurs.

Within the breast lobules or ducts, IBC cells grow and divide rapidly. The cells in the breast build up as time goes by, blocking the lymphatic vessels. These damage the skin and result in the redness, swelling, and dimpling associated with IBC.

Factors at risk

IBC is associated with a few risk factors. These include:

  1. Age. In younger women, IBC typically occurs.

  2. Weight. Those with excess weight or obesity are at a greater risk for IBC.

  3. Race. The number of Black women diagnosed with IBC is higher than the number of white women.

In addition to the above factors, being younger at the time of a first pregnancy, smoking, and not nursing require further assessment.


Because invasive breast cancer spreads very quickly, its outlook is less positive than most other forms of breast cancer. A positive outlook depends on early diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, you must address any sudden changes in your breasts like redness, swelling, or dimpling with your doctor.

Different individuals have different needs. It's important to consider your outlook based on factors such as your age, your overall health, and the stage of your cancer. We will develop a customized treatment plan for your condition, working with your doctor.

There is also ongoing research into the development of new, more effective treatments for IBC. A clinical trial may be an option for you if you’ve been diagnosed with IBC.

The process of receiving a cancer diagnosis can be complicated. Seek support from family and friends during your treatment.

Post a Comment