One of the most shattering news for any woman is that which relates to her being diagnosed with breast cancer. Her entire world seems to crash around her as she feels that her beauty and appeal will be partaken by the rigorous treatment methods that may follow the diagnosis.
Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive type of breast cancer that can affect women of any age. It is important to be aware of certain important issues that are associated with IFB or Inflammatory Breast Cancer.
The disease accounts for 1-5 percent of the total breast cancer cases diagnosed in the USA. A majority of the inflammatory breast cancer cases are typically invasive ductal carcinomas, which refer to the category of cancerous cells that develop in the milk ducts of the breast and infiltrate in the surrounding areas and regions.
Inflammatory breast cancer is more commonly diagnosed at a younger median age of 54 years in Afro American women rather than 58 years in the American white women. It is more commonly found in women who are obese rather than those with normal weight. The inflammatory breast cancer spreads quickly and aggressively, sometimes invading other areas in a few weeks or months. Early diagnosis of the disease is generally difficult and this leads to difficulty in the timely prognosis and treatment.
The Signs and Symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
The symptoms and signs of inflammatory breast cancer are difficult to detect through a mammography or ultrasound. The variable and progressive nature of the symptoms also makes it difficult to diagnose the disease at a very early stage. Most of the symptoms connected with an inflammation are present in inflammatory breast cancer. These symptoms represent up to 75 percent of all the cases diagnosed for inflammatory breast cancer.
Redness, Swelling and Inflammation Along With Dimpling On the Breast
The symptoms may typically appear all of a sudden, making the breast look red and swollen. Sometimes the “inflamed” look in the breast occurs overnight. The accumulation of fluid inside the affected breast may take the appearance of an orange peel due to the formation of dimples on the surface of the breasts. This condition is called peau d’orange.
Changes in the Nipples and Breasts
Some of the most evident symptoms include nipple retraction, rapid swelling and certain skin changes. Some of the other lesser common symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer are a rapid increase in the size of the breast, persistent itching, redness, swelling, etc.
Inflammatory Breast cancer is said to have symptoms that closely resemble mastitis and heart insufficiency. The inflammation inside the breasts makes the skin warm and increases skin temperature of the breasts.
Formation of Lumps In the Breasts and Underarms
Sometimes there is a presence of certain atypical singular symptoms such as acute central venous thrombosis which is quite rare. The lump formation that is present in other forms of breast cancer is conspicuous by its absence in inflammatory breast cancer. There may be a swelling under the armpit or in the neck as the breast starts getting harder and firmer.
Some of the rarer symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include a swelling in the arms, a decrease in the size of the breasts, a lump that forms and grows rapidly or a diffuse infiltration of the breast which develops without a well formed tumor.
The Diagnosis of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Biopsy is one of the most reliable methods of inflammatory breast cancer. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Ultrasound, and mammography, do not present the common signs of inflammatory breast cancer easily and it is a common phenomenon to miss the diagnosis of the same through these methods. It has been detected that inflammatory breast cancer responds to progesterone and antibiotics and this may have significance in the diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer.
The Causes of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
The presence of abnormal cells in one of the ducts of the breast is the cause of origin of inflammatory breast cancer. The DNA present in these abnormal cells undergoes a process of mutation through which they grow and divide extremely rapidly.
The large numbers of these abnormal cells invade the lymphatic vessels and spread to the surrounding tissues. The clogging and blockages in the breast give rise to redness, swelling and an “inflamed” look along with a dimpled skin around the breast which are some of the most important symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer.
The Different Stages of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer is generally diagnosed in one of the following stages of the disease.
Stage IIIA refers to that stage of inflammatory breast cancer in which less than one breast is affected by the presence of the cancerous cells.
Stage IIIB is the stage, where one of the whole breasts is affected and the cancerous cells tend to spread in areas near the breast such as the chest walls and muscles, walls of the ribs and the skin of the breast Inflammatory breast cancer is also liable to spread under the armpit and the lymph nodes located in the breast region.
In Stage IV of inflammatory breast cancer, the malignancy spreads to other organs including the lungs, bones, brain, neck and/or the liver.
Treatment of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
The treatment of inflammatory breast cancer is multimodal and includes chemotherapy along with a combination of various agents, hormonal therapy, radiation therapy or surgery. After a mastectomy, the reconstruction of the breast through silicon or saline breast implants or other methods is generally recommended by the doctors. The presence of diseases and disorders such as diabetes can complicate the entire process.
Inflammatory breast cancer is one of the most aggressive and dreaded of all diseases related to women. Proper awareness and information about the symptoms, causes, treatment methods and prognosis of cancer can help in the efficient tackling of disease. Approaching the treatment methods and procedures with a positive frame of mind, helps the doctors and patients alike. It is therefore, very important to consult a doctor as soon as the symptoms appear, so that an early detection can help speedy treatment and recovery.
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