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Inflammatory breast cancer is a form of breast cancer that leads to inflammation and swelling of the lymphatic channels of the breast. Rather than forming a lump, cancer cells grow along the inside of the lymph vessels in the breast skin and obstruct them.

The lymph vessels then fail to drain fluids and filter bacteria and waste material from the breast which leads to the typical features of inflammation such as redness, heat, swelling, itching and pain. These are the main symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer.

Other symptoms

Other possible symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include:

  • A ridged effect across the breast skin
  • Pitted appearance of the breast skin that resembles orange peel and is referred to as "peau d'orange"
  • One breast may appear larger and heavier than the other
  • A lump may be felt within the breast tissue
  • There may be a discharge from the nipple of the breast
  • The nipple may be inverted or pulled into the breast
  • Lymph nodes in the neck, collar bone and armpits may be swollen

Unlike other forms of breast cancer, the onset of symptoms in inflammatory breast cancer can occur suddenly. The symptoms are similar to those seen in breast infection and the condition can be confused with mastitis.



Further Reading

  • All Inflammatory Breast Cancer Content
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer Treatment
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer Pathology
  • What is Inflammatory Breast Cancer?
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Last Updated: Feb 26, 2019

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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