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Worried About Inflammatory Breast Cancer? Start here

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moderators
moderators Posts: 7,903
edited March 2023 in Not Diagnosed But Worried

Hi! We know you're here and worrying about a symptom or change to your breast or breasts. You may have found yourself Googling your symptoms, which led you to finding information on inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). Before coming to any conclusion, we hope you can take a deep breath, and read below from the main Breastcancer.org site's section on Inflammatory Breast Cancer:

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare form of breast cancer that usually starts with the reddening and swelling of the breast instead of a distinct lump. IBC tends to grow and spread quickly, with symptoms worsening within days or even hours.

The average age at diagnosis for inflammatory breast cancer in the United States is 57 for white women and 52 for Black women. These ages are about 5 years younger than the average ages at diagnosis for other forms of breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, inflammatory breast cancer is more common in Black women. A 2008 study found that being overweight makes a person more likely to develop IBC. Like other forms of breast cancer, IBC can also affect men.

Symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Although most breast cancers begin as lumps or tumors, inflammatory breast cancer usually starts with a feeling of thickness or heaviness in the breast. You also may develop red, inflamed skin on the breast. IBC tends to grow in the form of layers or "sheets" of tissue, which doctors sometimes call "nests."


The breasts swell and become inflamed because the cancer cells clog the vessels that carry lymph. Lymph is a clear, watery fluid that transports white blood cells and removes bacteria and proteins from the tissues.

Common symptoms of IBC include:

  • Redness of the breast: Redness involving part or all of the breast is a hallmark of inflammatory breast cancer. Sometimes the redness comes and goes.
  • Swelling of the breast: Part of or all of the breast may be swollen, enlarged, and hard.
  • Warmth: The breast may feel warm.
  • Orange-peel appearance: Your breast may swell and start to look like the peel of a navel orange (this is called "peau d'orange").
  • Other skin changes: The skin of the breast might look pink or bruised, or you may have what looks like ridges, welts, or hives on your breast.
  • Swelling of lymph nodes: The lymph nodes under your arm or above the collarbone may be swollen.
  • Flattening or inversion of the nipple: The nipple may go flat or turn inward.
  • Aching or burning: Your breast may ache or feel tender.

Some of these symptoms are similar to those caused by mastitis, a breast infection that can occur in women who are breastfeeding. Unlike inflammatory breast cancer, however, mastitis usually causes a fever and is easily treated with antibiotics. If you are diagnosed with mastitis that is not responding to treatment, ask your doctor about testing for inflammatory breast cancer. The same holds true if you are told you have cellulitis, which is a bacterial infection of the breast skin. Any persistent breast changes should be looked at by a breast specialist.

For more information, see Inflammatory Breast Cancer and Benign Breast Conditions.

More resources:

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/understanding-a-breast-cancer-diagnosis/types-of-breast-cancer/inflammatory-breast-cancer.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/inflammatory-breast-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20355413


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Comments

  • Rurumaru
    Rurumaru Member Posts: 3
    edited April 2021
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    Both of my breasts feel hot and warm to the touch, some parts of the skin also seems to be reddened but very hard to see unless you flash a light on it. On the reddened skin of my left breast, there are a few very red dots on them - when I scratch at it, it seems to disappear for a second before coming back. There's also a large lump under my armpit of the breast that feels soft and sometimes rubbery. I seem to find more and more red dots as I check... I am not pregnant or anything and I am in my teenage years.

    I did get 'diagnosed' but the doctor at the clinic didn't truly check thoroughly my condition and shrugged it off as something hormonal and the lump being a fatty tissue. And I went there twice now with the same awnser. I could go to a hospital but my family is quite poor and it's very difficult to afford medical expanses here. Although, during those visits, I was given antibiotics but it's still the same thing. I need any advice or reassurance...

  • beesie.is.out-of-office
    beesie.is.out-of-office Member Posts: 1,435
    edited April 2021
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    Rurumaru,

    Bilateral (i.e. simultaneously in both breasts) inflammatory breast cancer is so rare that the authors of an article I found about a single case mentioned that they could only find one other case in all of medical literature.

    So if some of your symptoms are showing up on both breasts, it's extremely unlikely to be IBC. More likely an infection or skin condition. A dermatologist is probably the best doctor to see.


  • flashlight
    flashlight Member Posts: 311
    edited April 2021
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    Hi Rurumaru, Since you are a teenager this issue might be hormonal. Since the doctor at the clinic gave you an antibiotic he/she thought it might be an infection or the start of one. When you took the antibiotic did the symptoms start to get better? Was it a pill or a cream? Sometimes if you sweat a lot and don't keep yourself dry you can develop a fungal infection which can look like a rash. Gently wash and try not to use anything that is scented to see if that helps. Make sure you are wearing the right size bra/sports bra. Look online on how to measure. Even goodwill has gently used bras. Or maybe an aunt or someone you know might be able to help you. Lets us know how you are doing.

  • Rurumaru
    Rurumaru Member Posts: 3
    edited April 2021
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    I've stopped wearing bras after I noticed something was wrong, but I would always wear bras that are always tight sports bras almost on a daily basis - barely taking them off because my female guardian did not really teach me how to take care of my breasts properly. The antibiotic I took was a pill. And yes, I've been using unscented body shampoo and it seems to be not getting better either. I also forgot to mention that my left breast is also suddenly bigger than the other and is the only one with the red spots that won't go away/appear more. Accompanied with these symptoms was pain and discomfort in my collarbone and shoulders pain, but the shoulder pain had gone away and only the collarbone pain remain till' now (it's mainly on my right). There is also tiny bumps as well on my breast skin and one time I had what seems to be mosquito bites on my right breast, near my nipple and the nipple themselves had a tiny itchy bump too. It's been over a month or so now.

    I truly apologize for not putting everything in, I was feeling really tired that time.

  • flashlight
    flashlight Member Posts: 311
    edited April 2021
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    I am sorry you are having these issues. Do you have a Planned Parenthood near by or a woman's clinic where they offer Gyn services? They should provide care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. They can give you help on how to care for your body. Try switching your body shampoo for an antibacterial soap...like Dial. Wearing a tight bra isn't good, but if you are large breasted you need some support during the day. Most women have one breast larger than the other. I know I do. With your period/hormones your breast size can change monthly. Sometimes a rash takes some time to get better. Hopefully you can get in for an appointment soon. Try to wear 100% cotton. Even a man's t-shirt would work underneath your top. Cotton would keep you dryer.

  • Rurumaru
    Rurumaru Member Posts: 3
    edited May 2021
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    Sadly enough, there's no Planned Parenthood or Woman's Clinic that I searched for.

    I was waiting to see if my symptoms worsen and I actually found the same red looking spots on the rest of my body, but the bumps, faint redness and extreme warmth on my breasts is still unexplained. I also started to get itchy sometimes.

    I can't really tell if my breast is asymmetrical or swollen still and there's a persisten pain in one spot of the affected breast and my upperback (even when I am not having my period)

    I plan to go to the doctors again to get yet another checkup since it seems that nothing is getting better and it's been 2 months now, but I don't trust that same clinic and I am unsure what kind of doctor to go to for my symptoms... I thought of going to a dermatologist but I am still not sure and I am afraid that it might be too expensive to afford, and they keep telling me to come back if I had a nipple discharge.

    One more thing is that, my father is hard to be convinced and tend to be stubborn and as for my mom, she won't listen to me... so it's going to be hard to get a third checkup in. I will update soon on what happens when I gain the courage to speak to him again, thank you guys.

  • flashlight
    flashlight Member Posts: 311
    edited May 2021
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    Rurumaru, Are you back in school? Could you talk to your school nurse? Is there any adult that might be able to help you? I am sorry this is happening and wish I could help you.

  • ctky
    ctky Member Posts: 3
    edited May 2021
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    Does inflammatory breast cancer ever have brief, firm, raised swelling and itching in just one spot? It'll last maybe an hour, disappear for days, then do the same thing again. It's not discolored when this happens.

    Before this it started off as a bug-bite-like, pink, slightly raised, rash which scabbed quickly and softened afterwards, leaving a light brown spot which has continued to fade. The discoloration is irregular, about a half inch wide, and doesn't usually feel like anything. Around this spot is where what I mentioned above happens. It didn't start doing the raised skin thing until a few weeks ago.

    I have an appointment for a mammogram and ultrasound on Tuesday, but I'm losing sleep over this now so I wouldn't mind an opinion. Thanks in advance.

  • beesie.is.out-of-office
    beesie.is.out-of-office Member Posts: 1,435
    edited May 2021
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    ctky, from what you describe, I'd recommend seeing a dermatologist. Your description sounds a lot more like a skin condition than a breast concern.



  • ctky
    ctky Member Posts: 3
    edited May 2021
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    Thanks. Even the suggestion that it may not be inflammatory breast cancer is already a delight. I've been furiously Googling it possibly being anything else.

    I'll try to come back and update with results when I have them. But for now I'll attempt to sleep...

  • zakheat
    zakheat Member Posts: 9
    edited May 2021
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    Hi, I want to reach out about my experience. I have an appointment with a breast specialist, but would like to hear from someone that is on the patient side of things. In February, I noticed a small abrasion on my left nipple. It was more aggravating that painful. I did have to ask my husband to avoid touching it as I was actively trying to get it to heal. I tried dry air, band aids, triple antibiotic ointment, etc. After 4 weeks of it still there (not weepy or draining; just an annoying scrape across the top of the nipple), I spoke with my doctor. She quickly dismissed it as an infection caused by clothing friction. I went on an antibiotic round. Two weeks later while working, I bent over and the pressure from within my newly swollen left breast caused the nipple to crack further and bleed quite a lot into my bra. Back to the doctor I went! They put me on another type of antibiotic but said they thought it was working...me not so much. Eventually the swelling, itching, and pain got worse. Then one night in the shower, I found a large lump above my nipple. I called a different doctor right away. He made me an appointment for an ultrasound because upon examination he discovered the nipple was retracting (it has since gotten even worse). He also put me on yet another but broader spectrum antibiotic. The nipple scrape really confounded the doctors into thinking it must be infection! The ultrasound results showed many cyst clusters within the left breast with the largest being only 6mm. Also, no evidence of infection. They chose not to biopsy because the radiologist was so comfortable saying they were benign from the way they looked. They sent me home with no further plan to treat. Meanwhile, my left breast is hard as a rock, the nipple still has an open wound on the tip that has been there since February. The skin is slightly pink and when I wear my bra it leaves an indention so severe that it is there in the morning. I don't even wear my bra cups or straps tight because I have tension migraines that are exacerbated by tight fitting clothing and it is still leaving marks. I requested a referral to a breast specialist because my skin is beginning to get the pitted orange peel look to it. I am looking for someone to ease my mind and say, "yes, cysts can cause this nipple issue, continued swelling, itching, pain, retracted nipple, etc" The sudden onset and the continued progression of symptoms worries me and to be totally honest I have lost a bit of confidence in my doctors.

  • beesie.is.out-of-office
    beesie.is.out-of-office Member Posts: 1,435
    edited May 2021
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    zakheat,

    Have you seen a breast specialist? If not, I would suggest it.

    When you say that there is no evidence of infection, is this based on an ultrasound only? I know that ultrasound can be used to diagnose an infection, but after this amount of time without healing and with your symptoms becoming worse, I would think that you should have a shave biopsy or punch biopsy of the nipple scrape. This type of biopsy would both check for infection and check for cancerous cells.

    You are posting in an IBC thread, and I don't know if Inflammatory Breast Cancer would present this way, starting at the nipple (I'm not saying it wouldn't but I don't know). However something else that should be investigated is Paget's breast cancer, which does start at the nipple: https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/paget-breast-f...

    Can cysts cause the type of symptoms you are experiencing? Depending on the location of a cyst, it can causing pulling and pain, but I don't know that it would cause swelling or the types of problems you've described with your nipple.

    I think you need to continue to pursue this. If you can't get in to see a breast specialist, you can try a dermatologist - they can do shave biopsies and punch biopsies.

    Good luck! Hopefully this is just an infection that has gotten out of control. Let us know.


  • zakheat
    zakheat Member Posts: 9
    edited May 2021
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    Thank you for your quick reply! I do have an appointment with a specialist on Thursday of this week. I hope they recommend a biopsy for my own piece of mind.

    I have been on so many antibiotics (I had major dental surgery in January quickly proceeded by the onset of my breast symptoms). I think since September I’ve had six rounds of three different types of antibiotics. I haven’t seen any improvement of my symptoms. Also, the radiologist noted that there were no signs of infection in his report. Yet, like you said, without further tests, who can say 100%

    Hoping for quick answers! Again, thank you.


  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,903
    edited May 2021
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    zakheat, we're sorry you are here and worried, but wanted to say welcome! Please keep us posted on your appointment on Thursday and what you find out. We're thinking of you!

    The Mods

  • ctky
    ctky Member Posts: 3
    edited May 2021
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    Update on me with the itchy bump on breast that keeps coming back. Mammogram didn't see anything. Was told to see a dermatologist.

    My panic has subsided. I knew not to let Google let me get carried away but when I did a telemedicine visit first, the first doctor told me pretty much "URGENT: See a breast surgeon and get a biopsy." That's the first thing that made me paranoid and got me Googling.

    I saw an in-person family practice doctor instead and she said "It could be inflammatory breast cancer" without me prompting and ordered a mammogram and ultrasound.

    They skipped the ultrasound because nothing came up on the mammogram.

    Oh well, I got them to give me x-rays of my boobs on a CD, so I have that now ...

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,903
    edited May 2021
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    Dear ctky,

    Thanks for the update.

    The Mods

  • zakheat
    zakheat Member Posts: 9
    edited May 2021
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    Just posting an update. I saw the breast specialist today. They took two separate punch biopsies. She confirmed that my symptoms could be indicative of inflammatory breast cancer. I also have a diagnostic mammogram and another ultrasound scheduled for next week. She seemed concerned which was both comforting (glad to have someone taking it seriously) and difficult at the same time. My pathology is supposed to take 3-5 days. We shall see.

  • PurpleAqua
    PurpleAqua Member Posts: 6
    edited May 2021
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    Both of my breast had a lump like marbles, and both painful. My breast size getting smaller day by day, and I just realize that I feel tired all the time since I was in college which is 2012, I often ignore it. Some day I had reddness upper my breast, someday it's gone. I'm getting so tired when I woke up these days. I was so curious about liquid that came out of my nipple, because I haven't married and had a child yet, and now I know. I'm trying to excercise and running, but I always became so much exhausted after that. Maybe yoga fits me well. Now I'm starting eat healthy food and rarely wearing bras. Hope it's not too late.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,747
    edited May 2021
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    purpleaqua,

    If you are worried about breast cancer, and have had concerns since 2012, please see a doctor ASAP! Wearing or not wearing a bra has nothing to do with breast cancer and it is highly unusual to be dx’ed with bilateral bc. Regardless, experiencing symptoms for over 8 years merits a visit to the doctor. Take care.

  • PurpleAqua
    PurpleAqua Member Posts: 6
    edited May 2021
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    Thankyou for your reply. I'm kind of lack of support from my family, they know but they seems didn't care. they even often invite me to eat carcinogenic foods. Gonna see the doctor soon.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,747
    edited May 2021
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    Not exactly sure what you mean by “carcinogenic foods”, but you know you can’t control other peoples diets and lifestyles. Serving foods they normally eat is not being unsupportive though it would be nice if they had selections that fit your dietary needs. You do not know if you have breast cancer and while everyone should strive for a healthy lifestyle, you can only control yourself! Take care.

  • batoriova
    batoriova Member Posts: 2
    edited June 2021
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    Hi all,

    I just turned 30 and I have no history of BC in my family. It's been about 10 days since I've discovered a red spot on my left breast, slightly higher on the chest. It doesn't hurt, and now I see some broken capillaries. It doesn't seem to reduce in size. I took an apointment to meet with a doctor but I hoped that I could get some more input through here. It itches once in a while. I don't think its an allergic reaction because it's isolated to only that spot, as well as no sign of a bug bite.

    I just created an account to get support and I cant even post a picture...

    any input is appreciated. Thank you so much.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,747
    edited June 2021
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    batorvia,

    Please read the comments on the other thread you started. It is easier to follow your situation if you stick to one thread. And again, no one is allowed to post symptom/breast pics. Take care

  • batoriova
    batoriova Member Posts: 2
    edited June 2021
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    Hi all,

    Had my apointment with an urgent care doctor and they took a look at my "red spot". Touched to feel for masses/swollen nodes under my arm, everything seems ok. She is not sure what caused my red spot but she prescribed me a stronger cortizone cream to apply 2x a day for a week. Follow up with her in a week to see if it has faded at all. But she is not worried for BC. It's more green/yellow than red today, and the broken capillaries have spread a few mm but the older ones seem to be fading a bit. Will give updates in a weeks time.

  • PurpleAqua
    PurpleAqua Member Posts: 6
    edited June 2021
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    Hello everyone.


    Hope you're all in a good condition. I wanna ask something. What is the best way to reduce fatigues?

  • PurpleAqua
    PurpleAqua Member Posts: 6
    edited June 2021
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    Hi batoriova.

    Hope that's not BC. We are here to support each other.

  • PurpleAqua
    PurpleAqua Member Posts: 6
    edited June 2021
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    Hi exbrnxgrl.

    Carcinogenic substances are substances that can cause the growth of cancer cells. There are many cancer-causing substances, and we may often be exposed to these substances without us knowing it.

    The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as part of the WHO classifies carcinogens into several groups, namely:

    Group 1: Carcinogenic to humans.

    Group 2A: Most likely carcinogenic to humans.

    Group 2B: Suspected of potentially carcinogenic to humans.

    Group 3: Not carcinogenic to humans.

    The Most Common Source of Carcinogens

    There are several sources of carcinogenic substances that are often found around us, namely:

    Cigarettes and cigarette smoke

    Tobacco cigarettes and their smoke contain about 70 substances that are thought to trigger cancer, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, ammonia, arsenic, benzene, lead, to hydrogen cyanide. This is what makes smokers, both active smokers and passive smokers, at high risk of developing cancer.

    In addition to triggering the growth of cancer cells, the habit of frequently inhaling cigarette smoke can also increase a person's risk for other serious health problems, such as COPD, heart attacks, and diabetes.

    cosmetic ingredients

    Some cosmetic products have ingredients that are carcinogenic, but the content is very small. However, the risk for the emergence of cancer remains, especially if the body is exposed to these materials in the long term.

    Some of the dangerous ingredients in cosmetics that need to be watched out for because of the risk of causing cancer cell growth include formaldehyde, parabens, mercury, and phthalates.

    In addition to increasing the risk of developing cancer, the use of cosmetics that contain harmful ingredients can also cause other dangers, such as contact dermatitis, hormonal disorders, to congenital diseases of the fetus.

    To prevent exposure to carcinogenic substances from cosmetics, you should use cosmetics that are sold legally and registered with the BPOM, and have passed dermatological tests.

    Exposure to carcinogenic substances may be difficult to completely avoid. However, you can minimize it in several ways, such as using personal protective equipment at work, wearing a mask when exposed to pollution, following a healthy diet, and quitting smoking.

    In addition, you can also regularly check with your doctor if you are frequently or at risk of exposure to carcinogenic substances, for example due to work. This examination aims to detect cancer early, so that it can be treated immediately.

    Hope you're in a good conditions.


  • PurpleAqua
    PurpleAqua Member Posts: 6
    edited June 2021
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    I found a publication.


    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC23908...


    Hope it helps.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,747
    edited June 2021
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    Hi purpleaqua,

    Um, yes I understand very well what carcinogenic means as I think most folks, especially those on bco, do. I was wondering, specifically, what foods the member was being fed. I was not asking for a definition as all of us are adults here, most with excellent vocabularies. Perhaps I did not express myself well but after living with stage IV bc for 10 years I understand the vast majority of terms associated with breast cancer.

  • vans671
    vans671 Member Posts: 2
    edited June 2021
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    Hello All,

    I have been struggling with breast issues all my life. This past year has been the worse for me. I have been experiencing unbearable pain, sometimes it leaves me breathless. I would describe my pain as a stabbing, sharp, and burning sensation. The pain can be so intense, wearing a bra and/or laying on my belly is unbearable. I have been to a doctor many times this yearand was even referred to a breast clinic after my mammogram was normal. Ultrasound showed a cyst (that's been there for awhile) but not in the area I was feeling pain. At one point, my nipples were itchy.


    I now have a reddish looking rash or discoloration on my left breast. I just moved to a new state so I need to get in with a doctor. I am so afraid of being brushed off again. I have done a mammogram and ultrasound. Mammogram just showed the cyst and dense breast due to my age(30). It was followed up with a US.

    Any advice on getting an MRI of the breast or even to be taken seriously?


    I appreciate any advice. Thank you