Inflammatory breast cancer, do you know it?

Have you heard about inflammatory breast cancer? Symptoms resemble mastitis without fever. It develops rapidly, is aggressive, generally without a lump and can be misdiagnosed. Learn what it is, symptoms and screening by reading the excellent text, translated and reprinted here, from the leaflet created by Suzanne Lemay (in French).

Symptoms of this breast cancer can appear in one night

Inflammatory breast cancer is a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer.

It accounts for 1 to 4% of all breast cancers.

When detected, it is already in stage III or IV, because in a few days or weeks it reaches the size of a cancer that would have taken 10 years to develop, and is already spread to the lymph nodes.

It strikes a younger age group.

The 5-year survival of this cancer is about 40%, whereas it is 87% for all types of breast cancer grouped together.

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) can be seen, not just felt.

Here are the symptoms (there may be one or more symptoms at a time) :

  • Increased breast volume (may be sudden)
  • Redness
  • Warmth
  • Tenderness
  • An itch that does not go
  • Hardening of the skin, “peau d’orange”
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the arm or at the neck
  • Retracted nipple, discharge

What is inflammatory breast cancer?

IBC is more difficult to detect and can easily be misdiagnosed and treated incorrectly compared to common breast cancers.

IBC develops in layers or lamellae, not in mass or solid tumor form as do the most common types of breast cancer.

It often takes birth in the breast milk ducts.

The cancerous cells then move into the lymphatic vessels (vessels that circulate the lymph, bacteria and other waste) of the breast tissue and block them.

This is what causes the symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer.


Mammography detects this cancer only when it is already advanced.
If you have the symptoms described above and are being treated for mastitis, therefore with antibiotics, return to your doctor if the symptoms are still present after a week.

And if you have no reason to suspect a mastitis, ask your doctor to take your temperature, mastitis presents with fever, not IBC.


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