Inflammatory Breast Cancer Treatment

A rare but very aggressive type of cancer is Inflammatory breast cancer. The mortality rate for Inflammatory breast cancer is higher than that for most other cancers. Contrary to its name, it doesn't occur because of some inflammation; rather, inflammation is just a symptom in IBC. It is not confined to older women and can develop in very young women, too. Men are not totally protected from IBC, even though their risk is too low.

In Inflammatory breast cancer, the cancer cells block lymph vessels of the breast. This gives rise to the apparent inflammation and redness of the breast of a person diagnosed with IBC. Other forms of cancer usually develop in women as they age, but that is not the case with IBC. It can occur in young women, too. It is also said that African American women are more prone to developing IBC, and at a younger age too, compared to White women.

Inflammatory breast cancer can start showing symptoms early on, and become very advanced within a matter or few days. This can be very sad, especially when women delay seeking medical advice regarding the symptoms, as the cancer can advance very rapidly, and it can be very late already, when they seek medical help. However, the symptoms for IBC are so alarming that women almost immediately seek advice, and this is one reason for relatively earlier diagnosis of Inflammatory breast cancer, in most cases.

It is not necessary that a lump be formed if you have IBC. This makes the cancer very undetectable, as many women do not seek proper medical help if they have no lumps in their breasts. Also, without a lump, diagnostic techniques like mammography and ultrasounds can not be relied upon, and the cancer can go undiagnosed. If you show symptoms of Inflammatory breast cancer, insist on a biopsy.

If you have developed IBC, your breast will appear extremely red or purple, often bruised and tender. The breast also gets enormously swelled, giving rise to its inflamed look. The breast size will increase rapidly, and there might be perpetual itching, too. You might get inverted nipples, a heavy aching and burning feel around the breast. The skin around the breast may also appear bumpy, like the skin of an orange, which gives name to the condition's medical term, peau d'orange. This condition occurs due to fluid accumulation. Other symptoms are changes of color or texture in the skin around the nipple (areola), swelling of the nipple, swelling under the arm and on top and below the collarbone.

IBC is often confused with mastitis or breast infections that show the same symptoms. Sometimes, previous operations can partially block the lymph vessels of the breast, too, and give rise to redness and tenderness. This should not be confused with Inflammatory breast cancer. Remember, the symptoms regress after a week or two or treatment for mastitis.

The treatment for Inflammatory breast cancer has greatly improved over the last few years. When the mortality rate used to be 100% few years back, today, around 60% women diagnosed with IBC live through their natural life-span. For treating IBC, a combination of therapies is required. Doctors usually start with chemotherapy and hormonal treatment, and follow it up with neoadjuvant therapy and mastectomy, after which, radiation therapy is highly recommended to prevent a recurrence of cancer.

Yes, there is still a high mortality rate for Inflammatory breast cancer, but do not let that bring you down. You should keep in mind technology has bettered, and is still improving, and that there are people who love you. You will live as normally as you want to.

By Roselyn Capen