Inflammatory Breast Cancer Stages and Signs

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Stages and Signs

Inflammatory breast cancer is one of the dangerous breast cancers which is very rare to diagnose in women. Inflammatory breast cancer blocks lymph vessels which are in the skin of the breast. This type of breast cancer causes breast swelling and redness, or inflammation, which is why it is called “inflammatory” breast cancer.

How common is breast cancer?

Inflammatory breast cancer is diagnosed in 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancers in the United States. In most of the cases, inflammatory breast cancers are spread beyond the ducts while developed from the cells which line the milk ducts of the breast.

Inflammatory breast cancer spreads rapidly in other nodes, often takes weeks or months. The cancer is either in stage III or IV disease when it is diagnosed. Most of the times cancer has been spread not only to nearby lymph but also has affected to other tissues.

Inflammatory breast cancer has some additional features including the following:

  • Inflammatory breast cancer is diagnosed at a younger age.
  • The nipple is inverted.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer is more common to be diagnosed ages in African American women than in white women.
  • Obese women are at more risk of inflammatory breast cancer than the women of normal weight.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Stages

There are some breast cancer stages which are diagnosed by the specialists for further treatment. Breast cancer stages are diagnosed according to some specific condition of the breast such as:

  • The size of the cancer
  • If the lymph nodes are affected
  • If breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Inflammatory breast cancer stages are stage IIIB, stage IIIC, and stage IV. These stages are as followed:

  • Stage IIIB : Stages of breast cancers are different and one of these stages is stage IIIB that means the cancer cells have spread to tissues near the breast, and have started affecting the skin or chest wall. This stage of inflammatory breast cancer affects the muscles and ribs in the chest. In the stage IIB, the cancer is spread to lymph nodes and under the arms as well.
  • Stage IIIC: It is one of the breast cancer stages when cancer has spread to lymph nodes near the neck and beneath the collarbone. The breast cancer may have spread to lymph nodes under the arm or within the breast or have spread to tissues near the breast.
  • Stage IV: This is a dangerous breast cancer stage because it is the stage when cancer has spread to other organs of the body. This is the only one stage of breast cancer stages where the cancer cells attack to the bones, liver, brain, lungs, and/or lymph nodes in the neck as well.

Signs Of Inflammatory Breast Cancer?

Signs of inflammatory breast cancer include edema (swelling) and erythema (redness), and it affects a third or sometimes more than a third of the breast. A clear change can easily be seen in the skin of the breast as it appears in bruised pink or reddish purple. Moreover, the skin gets having ridges like the skin of an orange.

There are some other signs of inflammatory breast cancer that include; increase in breast size rapidly; burning, tenderness in the breast or sensations of heaviness. Swollen lymph nodes can be felt near the collarbone or under the arm, or both as well. Sometimes the signs of inflammatory breast cancer are diagnosed during a physical exam, but it is when the cancer is stage III or IV disease.

In addition, it is an essential note to know that these signs of inflammatory breast cancer may also be symptoms of other conditions or diseases which are locally advanced, such as an injury, infection, or another type of breast cancer. This is also a reason that women delay to diagnosis their inflammatory breast cancer.


The author is a Medical Microbiologist and healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She covers all content on health and wellness including weight loss, nutrition, and general health. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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