Symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

The Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers at Dana-Farber provides a variety of services to help patients and their families cope with the many physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges of a cancer diagnosis and its treatment. We are committed to helping patients regain a sense of control over their lives and feel their best throughout treatment and beyond.

Inflammatory breast cancer, or IBC, is a rare but aggressive form of breast cancer. Unlike most breast cancers, which are detected by a mass or lump in the breast, inflammatory breast cancer is often identified by a breast that feels thick or heavy, and becomes red, swollen, and warm.

With inflammatory breast cancer, cancer cells block the lymph vessels of the skin of the breast, causing the breast to appear red or "inflamed." Due to the aggressive nature of this disease, it is important to be familiar with the signs and symptoms, which include:

diagram of five different kinds of IBC symptoms

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your physician immediately. IBC shares clinical similarities to a breast infection called mastitis. However, if you do not respond to antibiotic treatment for infection, you should consult a specialist about inflammatory breast cancer.

IBC is typically diagnosed through a clinical exam, and confirmed with a breast biopsy.

For more information about the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program, call 617-632-2175.

To make an appointment, call 877-332-4294.

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