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Topic: Worried About Inflammatory Breast Cancer? Start here.

Forum: Not Diagnosed But Worried —

Breast cancer symptoms vary widely. According to the American Cancer Society, in addition to a lump, breast cancer symptoms can include swelling, skin irritation, dimpling, breast pain, changes to the nipple, thickening of the breast skin, or unusual nipple discharge. Still, some breast cancers cause no symptoms at all.

Note: Please do not post pictures of your symptoms. It's important to have anything unusual checked by your doctor.

Learn more about breast cancer symptoms and diagnosis. Check out our slideshows on testing anxiety, mammograms, and more.

Intro medically reviewed by: Brian Wojciechowski, M.D.
Last review date: November 22, 2020

Posted on: Mar 19, 2021 01:54PM - edited Mar 19, 2021 01:57PM by Moderators

Moderators wrote:

Hi, and welcome to Breastcancer.org,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 and aggressive form of breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 1% of all breast cancer cases in the United States are inflammatory breast cancers.


Inflammatory breast cancer 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. It's important to recognize symptoms and seek prompt treatment. Although inflammatory breast cancer is a serious diagnosis, keep in mind that treatments today are better at controlling the disease than they used to be.

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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Apr 22, 2021 02:50PM - edited Apr 22, 2021 02:53PM by Rurumaru

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...

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Apr 22, 2021 03:32PM Beesie wrote:

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.


Dx 9/15/2005 Right, 7cm+, DCIS-Mi, Stage IA, Gr 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- ** Dx 01/16/2019 Left, 8mm, IDC, Stage IA, Gr 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH) ** Surgery 11/30/2005 MX Right, 03/06/2019 MX Left ** Hormonal Therapy 05/2019 Letrozole
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Apr 22, 2021 04:44PM flashlight wrote:

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.

Dx 11/15/2018, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Dx DCIS, Left, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Surgery Lumpectomy: Left
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Apr 22, 2021 05:52PM - edited Apr 22, 2021 06:07PM by Rurumaru

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.

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Apr 23, 2021 09:30AM - edited Apr 23, 2021 03:28PM by flashlight

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.

Dx 11/15/2018, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Dx DCIS, Left, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Surgery Lumpectomy: Left
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May 4, 2021 02:05AM - edited May 4, 2021 02:10AM by Rurumaru

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.

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May 4, 2021 09:10AM flashlight wrote:

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.

Dx 11/15/2018, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Dx DCIS, Left, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Surgery Lumpectomy: Left
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10 hours ago ctky wrote:

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.

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10 hours ago Beesie wrote:

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.



Dx 9/15/2005 Right, 7cm+, DCIS-Mi, Stage IA, Gr 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- ** Dx 01/16/2019 Left, 8mm, IDC, Stage IA, Gr 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH) ** Surgery 11/30/2005 MX Right, 03/06/2019 MX Left ** Hormonal Therapy 05/2019 Letrozole
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9 hours ago ctky wrote:

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...

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