Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer?

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Question from Dale: I am unsure if I have IBC. I am a 42-year-old female whose right breast inflames, turns red, and has a burning sensation. It has felt "tight," and increasingly so for the past two and a half years. Now the sensations have wrapped around my right upper body, and military doctors refuse to give me an incisional biopsy since nothing shows on mammogram and ultrasound. I was given Zithromax, but it did not help. Could this be IBC?
Answers - Thomas Buchholz With those symptoms, you should be seen and examined by an experienced breast physician. If you've had the symptoms for over two years, this is unlikely to be IBC. It's difficult to make a judgment in this type of setting. So I'd recommend you be carefully examined, because as you may be aware, sometimes breast cancer is not picked up with mammography.
Gabriel N. Hortobagyi, M.D., F.A.C.P. It is definitely not inflammatory breast cancer because by definition, inflammatory breast cancer is a rapidly progressing disease. Whether you have breast cancer or not is a different question, and so you do need to be screened and examined. Untreated inflammatory breast cancer has a survival of about a year to a year and a half, so the fact that you have had symptoms for two and a half years to me excludes this diagnosis.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Inflammatory Breast Cancer featured Gabriel Hortobagyi, M.D., Thomas Buchholz, M.D., and moderator Jennifer Sabol, M.D. answering your questions about inflammatory breast cancer, a rare but aggressive form of breast cancer.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in October 2006.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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