Rhode Island Hospital
Providence, RI 02903
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The Miriam Hospital
164 Summit Avenue
Providence, RI 02906
What is inflammatory breast cancer?
Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare and little known-but the most aggressive-form of breast cancer that is usually not detected by mammograms or ultrasounds. In inflammatory breast cancer, cancer cells block the lymph vessels in the breast.
Inflammatory breast cancer can be deadly because it can be difficult to detect, grows quickly, and spreads to other parts of the body. Also, while public awareness of breast cancer has grown in recent years, many women are unfamiliar with inflammatory breast cancer and may not seek treatment because they don't recognize its symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
Unlike other kinds of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer does not typically cause a lump or lumps in the breast; therefore, it cannot be detected by breast self-exams or most diagnostic imaging methods.
Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include:
Swelling, warmth, itching or thickening of the breast tissue
Breast skin that becomes discolored (like a bruise or bug bite), or rippled (like the skin of an orange)
Normal breasts may have inverted nipples or may vary from each other somewhat in size or shape, but if such changes in breast appearance develop suddenly (over the course of weeks or months), it may be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer.
How do you diagnose it?
Inflammatory breast cancer is diagnosed by a doctor's clinical examination and usually confirmed by a biopsy, mammogram and ultrasound.
How do you treat it?
Treatment is different from other breast cancers; aggressive chemotherapy treatment is usually required, followed by surgery and/or other procedures.