Inflammatory Breast Cancer Symptoms
Unlike other forms of breast cancer that form a lump in the breast, inflammatory breast cancer is characterized by physical symptoms that develop rapidly. They are caused by cancer cells that block the flow of lymph fluid through the breast tissue. Signs of inflammatory breast cancer include:
- Visible enlargement of one breast
- Breast discoloration: the breast may turn red, purple, or pink, indicating bruising or inflammation is present
- Visible breast skin changes including thicker breast skin, skin that looks pitted like an orange peel, and possible dimples or ridges in the skin
- Tenderness, pain, and/or aching
Mastitis or Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Because these symptoms resemble mastitis, inflammatory breast cancer can be misdiagnosed. Mastitis is treated with antibiotics. If the symptoms don’t go away or worsen after antibiotic treatment, it’s important that you see an inflammatory breast cancer specialist immediately.
Hormone Receptor Status
Certain proteins that fuel cancer growth may be present when inflammatory breast cancer occurs. The hormone receptor status of your breast cancer determines the best approach to treatment. Aggressive hormone-positive, HER2, and triple-negative breast cancers are more likely to occur in Inflammatory breast cancer. Your doctor will perform several tests to determine if your cancer is:
- Estrogen receptor positive (ER+)
- Progesterone receptor positive (PR+)
- HER2 positive (HER2 is a specific protein)
- Hormone receptor-positive (estrogen and progesterone are present)
- Triple-negative (estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 are not present)
Metastatic Inflammatory Breast Cancer
If cancer has spread to other parts of the body, it is called metastatic breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer can spread quickly. Seek care from a specialist if inflammatory breast cancer symptoms last longer than one week.
Recurrent Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer can return at any time. Scheduling regular follow-up appointments for exams and imaging with an inflammatory breast cancer specialist can ensure recurring breast cancer is caught early and treated immediately.