Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is 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. Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include swelling (edema) and redness (erythema) that affect a third or more of the breast. The skin of the breast may also appear pink, reddish purple, or bruised. In addition, the skin may have ridges or appear pitted, like the skin of an orange (called peau d'orange).Inflammatory breast cancer is typically considered a locally-advanced breast cancer and is treated aggressively with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and/or HER2 targeted therapy as appropriate.This is a rare type of breast cancer. Between 1 and 4 out of every 100 breast cancers diagnosed (1 to 4%) are this type. It is called inflammatory because the breast tissue becomes inflamed. The cancer cells block the smallest lymph channels in the breast. The lymph channels (or lymph ducts) are part of the lymphatic system. They drain excess tissue fluid away from the body tissues and organs.
Inflammatory breast cancer is 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.Inflammatory breast cancer is rare, accounting 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. At diagnosis, inflammatory breast cancer is either stage III or IV disease, depending on whether cancer cells have spread only to nearby lymph nodes or to other tissues as well.