Inflammatory Breast cancer is rare and aggressive due to the blockage of lymph vessels of the skin in the breast. It causes the breast and skin to swell. It mainly proliferates and has a higher risk of spreading than other types of breast cancer. The symptoms include redness, swelling, tenderness, and pain in the breast. Inflammatory breast cancer does not improve with antibiotic treatment. Its different sub-types have hormone receptor-positive or harmful, HER2 positive or negative, and triple-negative. Inflammatory breast tumour is a severe diagnosis and the treatments today are better at controlling the disease than they used to be.
Before talking about Inflammatory Breast Cancer, let us understand that The breast comprises different tissues ranging from fatty tissue to dense tissue. The tissue has lobes made up of tiny tube-like structures called lobules containing the milk glands. The ducts connect glands, lobes and lobules and carry milk from the lobes to the nipple, located in the middle of the areola. The areola is a dark area surrounding the nipple—blood and lymph vessels run throughout the breast. Blood nutrifies the cells, and the lymph system drains bodily waste products.
About Inflammatory Breast Cancer
A Breast tumor starts when normal and healthy cells grow uncontrollably and begin forming a tumor mass. Tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). A benign tumor usually remains confined to its original location. A malignant tumor proliferates and spreads to other parts of the body.
Inflammatory Breast cancer gets its name because it causes symptoms similar to a breast infection 1. These symptoms include redness, swelling, tenderness, and pain in the breast. However, inflammatory breast tumour does not improve with antibiotic treatment, contrary to an infection.
Inflammatory Breast cancer is rare and usually aggressive and blocks lymph vessels of the skin in the breast. Since the lymph fluid cannot leave, it causes the breast and skin to swell. The breast also starts looking red and inflamed. Inflammatory breast tumour mainly proliferates and has a higher risk of spreading than other types of breast cancer.
Also Read: Best known foods that kill breast cancer cells.
Breast cancer subtypes
Breast cancer is not a single disease, even among the same type of breast cancer.
Hormone receptor-positive or negative –
Breast cancers expressing estrogen receptors (ER) and progesterone receptors (PR) are called “hormone receptor-positive.” This cancer can depend on estrogen or progesterone receptors to grow 2. Breast cancer that doesn’t have estrogen and progesterone receptors is called “hormone receptor-negative.”
HER2 positive or negative –
Around 10% to 20% of breast cancers depend on the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) gene to grow 3. These cancers are the HER2 positive ones. The HER2 gene makes a protein found in the cancer cell essential for tumor cell growth. Breast cancer that does not have large numbers of HER2 receptors or copies of the HER2 gene is called “HER2 negative.”
If a breast tumor does not express ER, PR, or HER2, it is called “triple-negative.” This breast cancer may grow more quickly than hormone receptor-positive disease, and chemotherapy may work better as a treatment. About 20% of inflammatory breast cancers are triple-negative.
Although inflammatory breast cancer is a severe diagnosis, consider that treatments today are better at controlling the disease than they used to be.
- 1.Chippa V, Barazi H. statpearls. Published online November 5, 2021. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK564324/
- 2.Nguyen DM, Sam K, Tsimelzon A, et al. Molecular Heterogeneity of Inflammatory Breast Cancer: A Hyperproliferative Phenotype. Clin Cancer Res. Published online September 1, 2006:5047-5054. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.ccr-05-2248
- 3.Masuda H, Brewer TM, Liu DD, et al. Long-term treatment efficacy in primary inflammatory breast cancer by hormonal receptor- and HER2-defined subtypes. Annals of Oncology. Published online February 2014:384-391. doi:10.1093/annonc/mdt525