Inflammatory breast cancer is the rarest of breast cancers, being only 1 to 5% of all breast cancer cases yet it is considered very aggressive. It functions by blocking the lymph vessels within the skin of the breast. The title of inflammatory is due to the breast cancer causing the breast to look red, or, inflamed.
Statistically speaking, inflammatory breast cancer tends to be diagnosed in younger women, more than older women. It is also believed to occur more frequently, and in a younger age bracket, among African-American women than white women. The median age of inflammatory breast cancer is 56 years old as opposed to the median age of other breast cancer patients is at 62 years of age.
Inflammatory breast cancer is an aggressive form of cancer. The appearance of the breast of an inflammatory breast cancer patient appear somewhat different than the breast of patients with other forms of stage III-B or stage IV breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is diagnosed by a clinical breast examination, given by a licensed health care provider, or a cancer treatment specialist. Inflammatory breast cancer is considered a stage III-B, or stage IV cancer, due to it being either locally advanced, or having spread to other organs, respectively.
Inflammatory breast cancer is often treated with the same methods as other forms of breast cancer. Those methods most commonly applied include chemotherapy, targeted therapy, surgery (mastectomy or lumpectomy), radiation therapy, and hormonal therapy.
After treatment of inflammatory breast cancer, the breast cancer patient may continue to receive additional treatment to prevent a recurrence of the breast cancer. Sometimes the breast cancer patient is also in need of surgery, or other forms of treatment, within the chest wall to prevent the spread of the breast cancer cells to other parts of the body.
A surprisingly high number of women diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer are diagnosed during pregnancy or during lactation. Infant children of lactating mothers with inflammatory breast cancer are sometimes said to refuse to nurse from the affected breast.
A very common misconception that younger women are at a lower risk of breast cancer, and the aggressiveness of inflammatory breast cancer, leads to a common additional diagnosis of metastases upon positive determination of inflammatory breast cancer. When inflammatory breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body the need for additional, more involved therapies, are all too obvious for the treating health care provider.