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A reader replied to my previous column, “Breast Cancer Awareness,” and asked me to highlight a lesser known type of breast cancer, Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC).

Inflammatory Breast Cancer is a “rare and very aggressive disease in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast,” according to the National Cancer Institute. This type of breast cancer is called “inflammatory” because the breast often looks swollen and red, or inflamed. A few symptoms can be breast swelling, redness and skin texture like an orange peel, called peau d’orange.

“Inflammatory breast cancer can be difficult to diagnose,” the National Cancer Institute notes in their article. “Often, there is no lump that can be felt during a physical exam or seen in a screening mammogram.”

In the YouTube video, “Amelia’s Story- A Young Woman’s Cancer Journey,” 28 year old Amelia; a survivor of Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Her story is about the speed at which a diagnosis with this type of cancer needs to happen. It also highlights her positive attitude and ways she engages in life, in spite of her illness.

Did you know that Inflammatory Breast Cancer accounts for one to five percent of all breast cancers in the US?

“Compared with other types of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer tends to be diagnosed at younger ages,” The IBC Network Foundation said in a report.

Can men be diagnosed with IBC?

Yes they can. Rod Ritchie from Australia shares his story in an article for The IBC Network Foundation.

“While this form of breast cancer doesn’t always present along with a lump, mine did,” Ritchie said. “My breast surgeon told me that because our breast tissue is closer to the skin, we are susceptible to IBC. Men with breast cancer have a lesser chance of survival than women, primarily because they are diagnosed later, since they and their health practitioners are not recognizing symptoms of the disease early enough. Consequently, their prognosis is not as good as that for women. I don’t believe there are any statistics for IBC men. Also, there is the lack of male-specific clinical research on men with breast cancer, and few trials due to the small cohort of patients. Because treatment for men is based on that for women, there will only be more research when better treatment data from males is collated and analyzed.”

What do women and men of all ages need to know about Inflammatory Breast Cancer?

“Be alert for unusual swelling, changes in the color of the skin, changes in the texture of the skin such as thickening (ridges, dimples, or pits and the texture of the skin looking like an orange), changes in how the skin feels (itchiness or warmth) and swelling in the lymph glands that are under the arm or over the collar bone,” Susan Dudley, PhD, National Center for Health Research, said in an article.

I know you’re probably thinking that even though the chance of you having a disease like inflammatory breast cancer is rare, but having symptoms like any of these should not be ignored.

References:

National Cancer Institute

National Cancer Institute 2

National Cancer Institute 3

Columba Saint Mary’s

The ICB Network

National Center for Health Research

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