How does IBC get missed when tested?

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Question from Cathy: My skin pathology came back negative for IBC. Two months later, I had three tumors and the surgeon said I do have IBC. How was this missed the first time?
Answers - Thomas Buchholz When patients present with IBC, they often have congestion of fluid within their skin that's associated with small pieces of the tumor being present in some of the lymphatic channels of the skin. It is possible to take a biopsy of the skin and not find tumor cells associated with the cells that are examined. I'm not sure if this is what happened in your particular case. It sounds as if over the two month period the tumor became more present and therefore easier to detect. Inflammatory breast cancer is a breast cancer that is associated with clinical findings of thickened skin and redness of the breast that have a rapid onset and are associated with the underlying breast cancer. Oftentimes this is confirmed with the finding of a tumor within the lymphatic channels of the skin, but the diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer is not dependent on proving that the cancer is within the skin. Therefore, inflammatory breast cancer is sometimes referred to as a clinical diagnosis meaning that a lot of the diagnosis is dependent on the history and physical examination findings.

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 Breastcancer.org. 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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