INFLAMMATORY BREAST CANCER

INFLAMMATORY BREAST CANCER

Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) is rare for most women globally. It accounts for 1% – 5% of all breast cancers, BUT BLACK WOMEN ARE 70% MORE LIKELY TO HAVE IBC.

IBC affects 4.5 Black women out of 100,000, compared to 2.6 white women. As few as that may seem, IBC is nevertheless a highly aggressive, invasive breast cancer that we need to know more about.

Why IBC occurs remains unknown. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. But IBC is caused when changes occur in the breast cells. Mostly this happens in one of the ducts (tubes) that carry breast milk to the nipple. Also, it can happen at the production level in the glandular tissue.

Those cell changes cause rapid cell division and the growth of abnormal cells. Remember, nobody knows why. They get into the breast’s lymph nodes and clog them up to cause a blockage.

IBC is associated with METASTATIC STAGE 3 and STAGE 4 breast cancers. I imagine a clogged-up water pipe ready to burst. The earlier you get help, the better.

Either way, lymphatic vessels expand – swollen to cause red, dimpled skin. The French describe IBC as peau d’orange (orange peel) to infer that the breast looks dimpled like the skin of an orange.

 

IBC DOES NOT COMMONLY FORM A LUMP AS OCCURS WITH OTHER FORMS OF BREAST CANCER

 

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

v  Pain in the breast

v  Feels firm or hard

v  Feels tender

v  The nipple flattens or may turn inward

v  Discharge from the nipple may occur

v  Swelling can be sudden

v  Bruising that may not go away

v  Itching of the breast

v  Visible enlargement of one breast

v  A heaviness or thickness maybe around the breast

v  Breast may feel unusually hot

v  Lymph nodes feel swollen:

 

o   Under the arm

o   Above the collar bone

o   Below the collar bone

 

 

INFECTION (Mastitis)

IBC can often be confused with an infection because they have similar symptoms. Typically, we will see these infections in pregnant women or breastfeeding. Also, IBC is less likely to be present in women with menopause. 

If, after being treated for a breast infection, your signs and symptoms don’t go away, GET IN CONTACT WITH YOUR DOCTOR. Your doctor may recommend further tests like a mammogram for further assessment. Be warned that mammograms will often give negative findings for IBC. Ultimately only a biopsy can confirm an IBC diagnosis.

 

MAMMOGRAMS

Given mammograms identify lumps, think carefully about agreeing to a mammogram with IBC symptoms. A non-inflamed breast is already squashed and flattened in mammogram x-rays machines. It’s uncomfortable for most people. Ask yourself whether you will be able to endure such pressure with a swollen, inflamed breast. Do not expect your doctor to be considering that for you, so be in control of the decision you make.

 

ALTERNATIVES

There are alternatives to discuss with your doctor.

  • Ultrasound (Apparently, this is more reliable than mammograms in detecting IBC by 85%)
  • MRI (Not that reliable) or,
  • PET / CT (This is the 2nd best option, but it’s more expensive for hospitals, so you might have to insist)

 

If you have a genetic test, you are looking for the p53 gene associated with IBC.

 

TREATMENT

  • If chemotherapy has a poor response to IBC (treatment of the skin is crucial)
  • Radiation might still be considered before,
  • Modified Radical Mastectomy – this is the standard treatment for IBC.
  • ‘Delayed’ reconstruction can also be offered to you.

 

 

SURVIVING IBC?

Again, from a Woman of African Heritage perspective, the research is so limited you must be very careful with taking any data too literally. Plus, it really depends upon the stage of your particular breast cancer. Some studies suggest that if IBC has not spread, the five-year survival rate is approximately thirty-nine per cent (39%), which also depends upon a few things.

 

RISK FACTORS INCLUDE

·       BLACK. Be aware that we have a higher risk of IBC than white women.

·       YOUNGER. IBC is more frequently diagnosed in young people (40 – 50 years)

·       OBESE. Obesity appears to be a real feature of IBC.

·       WOMAN. We are more likely to be diagnosed with IBC than men. However, men can also develop IBC.

 

LISTEN TO THOSE THAT KNOW:

  1. Dr April Spencer
  2. Nadege Vilnaigre
  3. Michelle Williams
  4. Aquababie
  5. Evelyn Daniel

 

MOVIES:

AESHA WILLIAMS JOURNEY AND BATTLE WITH INFLAMMATORY BREAST CANCER.

 

plans ahead

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