Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC):

a rare and very aggressive disease in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. This type of breast cancer is called “inflammatory” because the breast often looks swollen and red, or “inflamed.”

What are the Symptoms of IBC?

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) symptoms may include:

•    Breast swelling, which one breast is suddenly larger than the other
•    Breast that feels warm to touch and may look infected
•    Itching or shooting pain
•    A dimpling of the breast skin that looks like an orange peel (peau d’orange)
•    Ridges or thickening of the skin
•    Flattened or discolored nipple
•    Swelling in underarm or only on one side of neck
•    Might feel lump, however lumps are not common in IBC

IBC Facts

Inflammatory breast cancer accounts for 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States. Most inflammatory breast cancers are invasive ductal carcinomas, which means they developed from cells that line the milk ducts of the breast and then spread beyond the ducts.

Inflammatory breast cancer progresses rapidly, often in a matter of weeks or months. Inflammatory breast cancer is either stage III or IV at diagnosis, depending on whether cancer cells have spread only to nearby lymph nodes or to other tissues as well. It is not commonly picked up by a mammogram.

Additional Statistics

  • Compared with other types of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer tends to be diagnosed at younger ages (median age of 57 years, compared with a median age of 62 years for other types of breast cancer).
  • It is more common and diagnosed at younger ages in African American women than in white women. The median age at diagnosis in African American women is 54 years, compared with a median age of 58 years in white women.
  • Inflammatory breast tumors are frequently hormone receptor negative, which means that hormone therapies, such as tamoxifen, that interfere with the growth of cancer cells fueled by estrogen may not be effective against these tumors.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer is more common in obese women than in women of normal weight.

Like other types of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer can occur in men, but usually at an older age (median age at diagnosis of 66.5 years) than in women.