How to Identify the Symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer | Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Inflammatory breast cancer is an uncommon but aggressive form of breast cancer, and many women don’t recognize the warning signs. Dr. Beth Overmoyer of Dana-Farber discusses the symptoms of IBC and what you should do if you discover them. Visit http://www.dana-farber.org/Adult-Care/Treatment-and-Support/Treatment-Centers-and-Clinical-Services/Breast-Cancer-Treatment-Center/Inflammatory-Breast-Cancer-Program.aspx to learn more about inflammatory breast cancer.

Transcription:

Narrator: Yvette Hudgins is getting chemotherapy to treat her breast cancer. She has a rare form on the disease called Inflammatory Breast Cancer, or IBC.

Hudgins: I just thought it was just inflammation. I would never, ever have thought in a million years it was breast cancer.

Narrator: Like most patients who get IBC, the mother of three never heard of it, or knew the warning signs.

Hudgins: I thought at first, you know, maybe it was just a little change. And then, it just progressed, so I made an appointment with my doctor.

Narrator: Yvette’s doctor is Beth Overmoyer, an IBC expert at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. She says when most people check for breast cancer, they’re expecting lumps, but IBC can look like this: what many of us would think was just a rash or bruise.

Overmoyer: Inflammatory Breast Cancer occurs one to five percent of all breast cancers, so a very small number of women. And so, because it is uncommon, you don’t necessarily jump to that as the first diagnosis.

Narrator: The most common symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer include redness, warmth, and swelling, skin that appears discolored or dimpled, like an orange peel, and itching and pain in the breast.IBC is very aggressive. Studies show the five year survival rate is between twenty-five and fifty percent, so Dr. Overmoyer says it’s important to watch for signs.

Overmoyer: If you notice some change, just call your primary care physician or your healthcare provider and have somebody check it out. Reassurance never hurt anybody.

Narrator: Yvette agrees. She caught her cancer early. Now, she and her fiancé are planning a cruise. She knows she’s one of the lucky ones.

Hudgins: I love cruises, so yeah. Next year, I’m taking a ten [day], because I’m not going to be able to go this year. So next year I’m taking a ten day. I’ve never been on a ten day, but we’re going on a ten day next year. It’ll be my celebration cruise.

Narrator: At Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, I’m Ann Dore, reporting.