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If you have any of the above symptoms, you might think you have inflammatory breast cancer. Before you panic, it’s important to note that IBC symptoms can mimic those of mastitis, a breast infection.
Mastitis can cause swelling, pain, and redness around the breasts. This condition is more common in breast-feeding women but can also develop in women who don’t breast-feed. The infection can be caused by a blocked milk duct, or bacteria entering the skin through a crack or break around the nipple.
A primary difference between mastitis and inflammatory breast cancer is that mastitis may also cause a fever, a headache, and nipple discharge. These three symptoms are not typical of IBC. Since the symptoms of mastitis and inflammatory breast cancer are similar, you should never diagnose yourself with either condition. Let your doctor make the diagnosis. If you have mastitis, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Your symptoms should improve within a couple of days. Mastitis can sometimes cause a breast abscess, which your doctor may have to drain.
If your doctor diagnoses mastitis but the infection does not improve or worsens, follow up with another appointment. Mastitis that does not respond to antibiotics could actually be inflammatory breast cancer. Your doctor can schedule an imaging test or a biopsy to diagnose or rule out cancer. Treating the wrong condition can delay the care needed to treat IBC.
Most of the symptoms of IBC are associated with other injuries and infections, such as mastitis. This infection of the breast is often seen among women who are breastfeeding. But it usually presents with a fever. Cellulitis, a bacterial infection of the breast skin, also shares some of IBC’s symptoms.
These common symptoms can delay the diagnosis of IBC.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer is often misdiagnosed by physicians, surgeons, and oncologists as a breast infection (mastitis); why, because most have little to no experience with IBC. Since most never see a case they treat what they see most often, breast infections. By not recognizing IBC, they prescribe a round of antibiotics and ointments. If symptoms do not go away after seven to ten days, you should consult your doctor for a referral to a Breast Specialist or ask for a needle or core biopsy immediately. By the time the cancer is properly diagnosed it is already quite advanced and have spread to other areas of the body leaving its victims with poor prospects of survival.
About one-third of women with IBC have metastases when they are diagnosed [. This means the cancer has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other parts of the body such as the bones, lungs, liver or brain.
For this reason, when IBC is diagnosed, tests for metastases are done to see if it has spread to other parts of the body
When selecting your healthcare team, choose doctors with experience treating Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). You need an oncologists and surgeons an experienced multidisciplinary team who specialize in IBC. (a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, and surgical oncologist) team with demonstrated expertise in the management of this condition and access to more advanced diagnostic tests and new drugs. Inflammatory Breast Cancer involves the entire breast, skin of the breast, and axillary lymph nodes. These providers work as a team and will call in additional specialists as needed (radiation oncologist).
Search for clinical trials on Inflammatory breast cancer and find the names of doctors coordinating the studies. If you do not live near a health center with a doctor specializing in Inflammatory breast cancer, consider traveling outside your area for a second opinion on your treatment plan or contact, Fighting 4 the Tatas Breast Cancer, Inc. (www.fighting4thetatas.org)
After treatment ends, you will see your oncologist every three to six months for the first one to two years; then every six to 12 months for the next three to four years; and then once a year. If you had a lumpectomy, you will get a mammogram or MRI on the remaining breast or breasts.
When you see your doctor, bring your questions. Make sure to tell your oncologist about any new headaches, pains or problems that are out of the ordinary, more severe or last longer than before.
With Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), the risk of a metastatic recurrence, the breast cancer coming back outside the breast, is strongest in the first five years after your diagnosis. Aggressive cancer cells may travel from the breast to other parts of the body. These cells move through the blood- stream and the pathways that carry fluid away from the breast to the lymph nodes, called the lymphatic channels. The goal of chemotherapy is to kill these stray cells and lower your risk of recurrence.
After five years, your risk of recurrence goes down. In fact, as time goes on, your risk for recurrence may be lower than that of someone treated for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.
If you still have breast tissue after surgery, the risk for developing a new breast cancer in the same or opposite breast does not decrease over time. Keep up with regular doctor’s appointments to find any new breast cancer.
Most women with Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) May be overwhelmed by worries about breast cancer returning. Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays can bring these emotions to the surface, as can news about a friend, family member diagnosis. Your fears may be stronger before you go for follow-up appointments and when you wait for test results. To lower your anxiety, share your fears with a trusted friend or support group.
Any health-related information provided on the web of the Fighting 4 the Tatas Breast Cancer Organization is made available strictly for informational purposes. In no way does this information replace the knowledge, expertise, skills, or judgment of a doctor or other qualified health professional. Such information cannot be used for diagnosis or treatment purposes. You should consult a doctor or a qualified health professional in connection with any specific medical question or issue concerning your health. The hyperlinks which connect you to other Internet sites are provided solely for reference purposes and the Fighting 4 the Tatas Breast Cancer Organization assumes no responsibility as to their use or content.