Breast Cancer is a very scary thing for any woman to go through. There are various types of breast cancer. I am going to discuss inflammatory breast cancer. If you have or suspect you have breast cancer make sure to go to your doctor for a checkup. The good news about breast cancer is in most situations with the proper treatment a woman can live a happy, healthy, normal life after getting rid of the breast cancer.
Most of the time a woman has no symptoms of breast cancer until they notice a lump while doing a self-breast exam or when they are at the doctor’s office and the doctor feels the lump during examination. Some breast cancers may not have a lump making it harder to find as is the case with inflammatory breast cancer.
Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare but very aggressive type of breast cancer in which the cancer cells block the lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. This type of breast cancer is called “inflammatory” because the breast often looks swollen and red, or inflamed. Inflammatory breast cancer accounts for 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancer cases in the United States.
Symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer may include redness, swelling, and warmth in the breast, often times without a distinct lump in the breast. This causes some women to not really worry because they feel it isn’t cancer, so it’s no problem. But if you notice a redness and warmth in your breast have it checked by your doctor. The redness and warmth are caused by the cancer cells blocking the lymph vessels in the skin. The skin of the breast may also appear pink, reddish purple, or bruised. The skin may also have ridges or appear pitted, which is caused by a buildup of fluid and edema in the breast.
Swollen lymph nodes may also be present under the arm, above the collarbone, or in both places. However, it is very important to note that these symptoms could also be signs of other conditions such as infection, injury, or other types of cancer
Treatment consists of chemotherapy, targeted therapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and hormonal therapy. This is the treatment path most often used to treat inflammatory breast cancer. The purpose of chemotherapy is to control or kill cancer cells, including those that may have spread to other parts of the body.
After chemotherapy, patients with inflammatory breast cancer may undergo surgery and radiation therapy to the chest wall. Both radiation and surgery are local treatments that affect only cells in the tumor and the immediately surrounding area. The purpose of surgery is to remove the tumor from the body, while the purpose of radiation therapy is to destroy the remaining cancer cells. Surgery to remove the breast is called a mastectomy. Removal of the lymph nodes in the underarm area to be examined under a microscope is also done during this surgery.
After initial treatment, patients with inflammatory breast cancer may also receive additional systemic treatments to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. Such treatments may include additional chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapy or all three. Inflammatory breast cancer is most likely to have spread to other areas of the body at the time of diagnosis than non – Inflammatory breast cancer cases. As a result, the 5-year survival rate for patients with inflammatory breast cancer is between 25 and 50 percent, which is significantly lower than the survival rate for patients with non-inflammatory breast cancer breast cancer. It is important to keep in mind, however, that these statistics are averages based on large numbers of patients. Statistics cannot be used to predict what will happen to each particular patient because each woman’s situation is different and unique. Women are encouraged to talk to their doctors about their prognosis of their particular situation.
All women need to do regular self-breast examinations and after the age of 40 to get yearly mammograms. Mammography is a low-dose X-ray examination that can detect breast cancer up to two years before it is large enough to be felt. When breast cancer is found early, the five-year survival rate is 96%.
Breast Cancer treatment has come a long way and the survival rate if caught soon enough is very good. Do it for yourself and those who love you. Even if you are sure if a lump you feel is actually a lump make sure to go to your doctor anyway and have them check. If you have redness, discoloration or swelling and warmth in your breast even without a lump present, make sure to have your doctor do an examination. It’s better to be safe than sorry.