Understanding Medical Problems

Understanding And Treating Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Many people had or know someone who had breast cancer because it is such a common disease. Even though it is surprising to learn, there are many different types of breast cancer, all ranging in severity with varying symptoms. Inflammatory breast cancer is one type that is not as common as the others.

On average, inflammatory breast cancer makes up 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancers. While not as common, this form of breast cancer can be devastating. Using this guide, you will have a better understanding of the symptoms and treatment options available for patients with inflammatory breast cancer.

Understanding Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Like the name suggests, inflammatory breast cancer causes inflammation and the growth of cancerous cells in the breast's skin and lymph vessels.  Because the inflammation occurs quickly, this form of breast cancer is very aggressive.

Unfortunately, this form of cancer can grow and spread before you even begin to experience symptoms.


One of the most important things you should know about inflammatory breast cancer is that it does not display the common symptoms of other forms of breast cancer.

If you have inflammatory breast cancer, you will most likely not see or feel a lump in the breast tissue. However, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

It is important to note that your breasts will naturally change over the course of a month due to hormonal factors and weight gain, but you should consult your doctor if you are noticing one or more of the above signs as a precautionary measure.


Before treatment begins, your doctor will need to conduct a few tests to diagnose the cancer. In most cases, inflammatory breast cancer can be diagnosed with mammograms, MRIs, and ultrasounds. If any inflammation is found on these imaging tests, a biopsy of the breast tissue will be ordered.

During a biopsy, your doctor will surgically remove a small sample from the breast tissue. The biopsy will not only be able to diagnose the cancer, but it will also be able to determine the severity, or stage, or the cancer. This will be imperative for designing a course of cancer treatment that will be effective.

If the cancer is located in the breast tissue only, chemotherapy and radiation will be used to kill the cancerous cells. If the cancer has spread to the skin and chest wall, a more advanced treatment will be necessary.

Surgical removal of the breast followed by chemotherapy is the best option if the cancer has spread through the skin and chest wall.

If the cancer has spread to lymph nodes, neoadjuvant therapy will be used. Neoadjuvant therapy involes a combination of chemotherapy medications that are capable of shrinking the cancer in the breast tissue, skin, and lymph nodes. Shrinking the cancer using this aggressive chemotherapy will improve the success rate of surgery.

Today, advances are being made in cancer treatments, but proper understanding is beneficial for you and your family members. To learn more about inflammatory breast cancer, the signs, and treatment options, contact your doctor today.