Healthy Living

Oct 13, 2010 4:40 PM by Carina Corral

Inflammatory Breast Cancer: symptoms every woman needs to know

Carina Corral continues her special series on breast cancer awareness by bringing attention to a rare type of the disease that often goes undetected or misdiagnosed because the symptoms unrecognizable.

Stella Davis and Kelly Tallant, both Central Coast residents, belong to a small group of people affected by Inflammatory Breast Cancer, or IBC.

Davis was diagnosed in December of 2005. " My first sign was I was nursing my six month old and he refused to nurse on one side," she said.

And Tallant's mother died 18 months after her diagnosis in 2004.

" Most women, most people, have not heard of it before. It's the unheard of breast cancer," said Tallant.

It is 'unheard of' because it is not your typical breast cancer, making up just five percent of cases.

There is no lump to feel for and it does not show up on a mammogram.

Instead, it mimics an infection with redness, warmth and swelling the main symptoms. It can also look like a bug bite or and the skin can resemble an orange peel. And it spreads fast.

" It's very aggressive. It's the most aggressive type of breast cancer," said Dr. Tom Spillane at Coastal Integrative Cancer Care in San Luis Obispo who said it can progress in weeks, even days, leaving little time to waste.

" The take home message for women is that if they get changes in their breasts not ignore it go get it checked out as soon as possible," said Dr. Spillane.

And unlike typical breast cancer it is often found in younger women and the prognosis is not as good.

" Everything you're ever told about breast cancer is not true when it comes to IBC," said Stella.

Every woman should know these symptoms and speak out about this silent killer.

" That's what I'm trying to do is make sure people know about it so they don't have to lose their moms as well," said Tallant.

It makes it harder for researchers to study IBC because it is so rare, but some scientists have been able to find differences in the DNA and other molecules in IBC compared to the usual types of breast cancer. They are hopeful this development will lead to more effective treatments.

Click here to learn more about inflammatory breast cancer.

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