Inflammatory Breast Cancer

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What is inflammatory breast cancer?

Injury, irritation, or infection can cause increased blood flow and the buildup of white blood cells in the body's tissues. This typically results in redness, warmth, and swelling in the involved parts of the body. This is called inflammation.

Inflammatory breast cancer displays the same symptoms that may occur with inflammation, like swelling, skin redness, and an orange peel like texture of the skin. But this does not mean that IBC (or its symptoms) is caused by infection or injury. The symptoms of IBC are caused by cancer cells blocking lymph vessels in the skin.

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is rare and it differs from other types of breast cancer in its symptoms, prognosis (outlook), and treatment.

There is some disagreement in the numbers, but IBC probably accounts for about 1% of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States. Some experts believe that IBC may be more common, but diagnosing it is often difficult. This can mean the disease is not being reported as often as it should be.

Last Medical Review: 08/28/2014
Last Revised: 06/10/2015