Did you know that there is a breast cancer that does not show up on mammograms?
Many people are unaware that there is a breast cancer that doesn’t show up on mammograms. It’s rare, very serious, and moves VERY QUICKLY. It’s called Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC). These account for 2-5% of all breast cancers. Often, with this type of breast cancer, there is no lump that can be felt in a physical examination or seen in a screening mammogram.
About 6 months ago, I went in for my annual gynecological exam, including a mammogram. Everything turned out fine and the mammogram showed no abnormalities.
A month after that, my husband was going to go in for open heart surgery, so for about a week before, to dissipate some of the stress, I swam in an indoor pool. I started to notice that my right breast was becoming very red and mottled, but in all honesty, I wasn’t worried. I had a good mammogram and I thought maybe it was an irritation from the chlorine or my swimming suit rubbing up against me.
By the time my husband went into the hospital, my focus was on him and I didn’t really realize how much my breast was getting more and more red and bruised looking. I thought maybe my dog had jumped on me and left a bruise.
It wasn’t really itchy, just unsightly and seemed to be going to my left breast also. By now, it had been a few weeks and my husband was home and I thought I should get it checked out.
I looked on the web under ‘bruise on breast’ to see if there was a way of getting the redness down and up popped INFLAMMATORY BREAST CANCER.
I had never heard of it.
INFLAMMATORY BREAST CANCER DOES NOT SHOW UP ON A MAMMOGRAM.
(Please see pictures below).
I got in, finally, with my gynecologist, who pretty much scoffed at it and said he thought it might by Ringworm. I said, “How could I possibly get ringworm?” and he asked if I had a dog. I said yes and he said, “Well, there you go.” He suggested I see my dermatologist.
My dermatologist looked at the breast. She said that it was definitely NOT RINGWORM, but asked if she could do a biopsy. I said ABSOLUTELY.
After waiting almost 10 days for the results, she called and said I was negative for cancer, however I had a rather unusual rash and she had given me an antibiotic cream to put on it.
In the 10 days that I had to wait for that biopsy result, I found out alot of information:
Mayo clinic.com has an excellent article on this. Please read it as it may save your life.
Signs and symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include:
1) Rapid change in the appearance of one breast, over the course of several weeks;
2) Thickness, heaviness or visible enlargement of one breast;
3) Discoloration, giving the breast a red, purple, pink or bruised appearance;
4) Unusual warmth of the affected breast;
5) Dimpling or ridges on the skin of the affected breast , similar to an orange peel;
6) Tenderness, pain or aching;
7) Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm, above the collarbone, or below the collarbone;
8) Flattening or turning inward of the nipple.
It is important to note that these symptoms may also be signs of
other conditions such as infection, injury, or other types of cancer.
Other more common conditions have the same symptoms of IBC, including, for example a breast inury or breast infection (mastitis).
Here is one picture of IBC and click HERE for more.
It is not my intention to scare you, but rather inform you. So many doctors have never heard of this cancer, or have heard if it and have never seen a case of this in their careers, and are not taught to look for it.
Nobody really knows what causes Inflammatory Breast Cancer. It begins with an abnormal cell that grows and divides rapidly.
Here are some of the risk factors:
1. Being a women. Men can also get Inflammatory Breast Cancer;
2. Being Black. Black women have a higher incidence of breast cancer.
3. Increasing age. The risk increases with age.
4. A family history of breast cancer.
According to the IBC Foundation: The 5-year median survival rate is approximately 40%, mainly due to delays in diagnosis, a physician’s lack of expertise in treating IBC and its resistance to treatment with standard chemotherapy drugs.
The treatment is usually more agressive than for other breast cancers.
According to the National Cancer Institute, Inflammatory breast cancer is treated first with systemic chemotherapy to help shrink the tumor, then with surgery to remove the tumor, followed by radiation therapy. This approach to treatment is called a multimodal approach. Studies have found that women with inflammatory breast cancer who are treated with a multi-modal approach have better responses to therapy and longer survival.
Time is of the essence with this particular cancer. Again, It is very fast moving.
I could not believe how my several symptoms matched up with what I had read online.
It was really scary and to wait almost 10 days for the biopsy results was truly scary. But, I knew that if that was what I had, I needed to get moving.
Also, many doctors still do not look for this disease or understand it.
You have to be proactive and find a doctor that understands this cancer.
Please take the 6 minutes to watch this youtube, showing how so many people and doctors have no idea what this is or what to look for:
If you notice any signs or symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor right away. Don’t let anyone just pat your hand and tell you that you have nothing to worry about. Be proactive and protect yourself.
Please share this with all the women in your life.