Have you heard about a rare form of breast cancer that goes undetected by breast exams and even mammograms? Did you know that this cancer accounts for 2%-5% of all cases of diagnosed breast cancer but that it accounts for 25% of breast cancer related deaths because the diagnosis came too late?
Dear readers, the cancer I'm referring to is called Inflammatory Breast Cancer or IBC. It is the fastest growing breast cancer and it claims so many lives each year. The worst part is that nothing that you know about breast cancer prepares you for IBC; You're not going to find a lump.
The general rule of thumb for breast cancer survivability is early detection, ideally before any symptoms are noticed. Sadly, this isn't the case for IBC, because most of the time, symptoms are what leads to it's diagnosis.
The problem with IBC is that it's symptoms mimic and are often confused with much more commom ailments such as mastitis or infection. And while your doctors attempt to treat these other problems, critical time is lost and the real treatment is delayed.
Here's the lowdown on IBC:Treatment
- Swelling and tenderness
- Itching and unusual warmth
- Inverted nipple
- Crusted or dimpled skin on the breast or nipple
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- The first line of defense against IBC is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is done to limit the growth of this fast growing cancer and hopefully kill it. Once chemotherapy is complete, "a mastectomy with lymph node removal is the preferred surgery. Unfortunately, since there isn’t usually a lump and since the cancer is in the skin, a lumpectomy is not possible." (HealthCentral.com)
- With treatment, the five-year survival rate of IBC is roughly 50% while the ten-year survival rate is only about 30%.
Here is an amazing video about IBC
Note: The table image and the quote are both from the book Inflammatory Breast Cancer: A Breast Disease Book by G. Owen Johnson.