What are the signs of inflammatory breast cancer?

Most women know the importance of breast self exams and regular medical check-ups in detecting potentially cancerous lumps. But how many know how to spot the symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer, which usually occurs without any palpable mass?

Though rare affecting 1 to 6 percent of breast cancer patients, according to the Mayo Clinic inflammatory breast cancer is more aggressive and progresses faster than other types of breast cancer. It usually grows in nests or sheets, rather than as a confined tumor, according to the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and often goes undetected by mammograms and ultrasounds. In many cases, it is initially misdiagnosed as a breast infection, but its symptoms won’t respond to antibiotics.

Here is what to watch for:

Swelling, usually sudden, sometimes as much as a cup size within a few days

Itching and/or pain

Pink, red or dark colored areas, sometimes with an unusual texture to the skin that is similar to that of an orange (called peau d’orange)

Nipple retraction and/or nipple discharge, which may be bloody

Change in color and texture of the areola

For more resources and information on treatments and research, visit http://www.ibcresearch.org.newsday via hearthealth