Out of all the types of breast cancers that kill scores of women every year, inflammatory breast cancer is probably the rarest. It is however one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancers and women are mostly misdiagnosed in the initial stages thereby losing precious time that could have led to early detection and treatment.
Like all breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer does not have symptoms like lump formation in the breast. The breast would appear inflamed and tender with a certain bruised and orange peel appearance which is uncommon in other forms of breast cancers. It is the absence of lump that makes matters worse as women almost always associate a lump with breast cancer.
Early Signs of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
In most cases, the early signs are diagnosed as an infection of the breast tissue and the patient is treated through antibiotics. It is only when these antibiotics fail to take effect that other tests are conducted to confirm the diagnosis. By then, the cancer must have advanced to the next level.
Mostly, women above the age of 50 are diagnosed with this type of cancer, though younger women too are susceptible. Immediate action is needed for the treatment to be effective.
Sudden change in breast tissue which happens within a matter of weeks or days.
There would be a bruised appearance of the breast with breast turning red or pink. Swelling of the breast soon sets in and the inflammation will be much more than any other common infections affecting the breast.
Extreme tenderness is another symptom to watch out for. This too will happen within days after you notice the inflammation and bruising.
Breast will appear purplish or take on a dark red appearance and the bruising may fade away, though it may not disappear.
Skin dimpling which makes the skin look like an orange peel is another symptom that you will notice in the early stage.
The breast will increase in size and will have a heaviness and thickening of the surface skin than the normal breast. The increase in size is due to the lymph node inflammation that will lead to water logging inside the breast.
Presence of enlarged lymph nodes on the neck and above the collar bone or under your arms is a common symptom of breast cancer. Skin around the nipples will become very crusty or may get inflamed as well.
Discharge from the nipple is not a common symptom though it is sometimes seen in some women along with inverted nipples.
Treatment for inflammatory breast cancer involves removal of the entire breast tissue. The timing of the treatment is most important as this is an aggressive form of cancer. Late diagnosis and treatment will not yield any result and will lead to loss of life.
The most unfortunate thing about inflammatory breast cancer is that there is only a thin line that divides the early and advanced stages and the right diagnosis at the initial stage goes a long way in saving the patient.