Inflammatory Breast Cancer
(IBC; Inflammatory Carcinoma of the Breast; Inflammatory Breast Carcinoma)
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare and fast growing breast cancer. It makes the breast look inflamed. It is found in women and men.
Cancer happens when cells divide without control or order. These cells grow together to form a tumor. They can invade and damage nearby tissues. They can also spread to other parts of the body. It is not clear what causes changes in the cells.
In IBC, cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin. This causes lymph fluid to build up.
IBC is more common in older women and women who are Black.
Other things that raise the risk are:
Unlike other breast cancers, a lump or mass may not be felt.
Symptoms start quickly. They may include a breast that is:
The nipple of the breast may also be pulling inward.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will also be done.
Images may be taken of the breast. This can be done with:
A biopsy will be done to remove a sample of tissue. It will be checked for cancer cells. If cancer is found, the tissue will also be tested to look for:
Diagnosis is confirmed by the tests. The exam and test results are also used for staging. Staging outlines how far and fast cancer has spread.
Early diagnosis and treatment are important. The sooner it is found, the better the outcome. Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer.
Treatment may include one or more of the following:
The risk of breast cancer may be reduced by:
American Cancer Society
Canadian Breast Cancer Network
Canadian Cancer Society
Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/breast-cancer-in-women. Accessed March 19, 2021.
Inflammatory breast cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/inflammatory-breast-cancer. Accessed March 19, 2021.
Inflammatory breast cancer. National Breast Cancer Foundation website.
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Accessed March 19, 2021.
Inflammatory breast cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/ibc-fact-sheet. Accessed March 19, 2021.
Rosenbluth JM, Overmoyer BA. Inflammatory breast cancer: a separate entity. Curr Oncol Rep. 2019;21(10):86.
Treatment of inflammatory breast cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/treatment/treatment-of-inflammatory-breast-cancer.html Accessed March 19, 2021.
Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 3/19/2021