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Diagnosing Inflammatory breast cancer

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We hear a great deal about prevention and early detection in cancer.  While cancer prevention may never be 100 percent effective, many things (such as quitting smoking and eating healthy foods) can greatly reduce a person’s risk for developing cancer, the causes for IBC are unknown and there is not a form of detection prior to a stage three.  

This lack of early detection can cause great emotional stress, so it is important that if you are diagnosed with IBC to understand your late stage diagnosis was not your fault.  There is not a way to know you have IBC until the outward physical signs are presented.

We would like to give a very brief overview of some common challenges to diagnosis. For more detailed information please download and read our very detailed app.

Why are mammograms notoriously ineffective in detecting IBC?

IBC doesn’t form a discrete lump that can be seen easily and measured. However, IBC does have other features that can be observed on a mammogram if the radiologists are trained on what to look for. These signals of IBC include trabecular distortion, skin thickening and retraction of the skin and nipple.  Another reason is that in younger women especially who have denser breasts, mammograms lose sensitivity because more of the breast is white on a mammogram.

Can IBC be confirmed on a biopsy alone?

The biopsy may not find cancer due to the nature of the disease, so more than one biopsy maybe required or further testing such as a MRI.  Also if the patient does not have a palpable lump, (only a faction do present with a lump) cord needle might not be possible, so a skin punch biopsy of red or suspicious area could be the next step in obtaining a diagnosis.

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