What You Need to Know and How to Help Someone Diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer

What You Need to Know and How to Help Someone Diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Julie Scott, DNP
Julie Scott, DNP
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) | cancerGO

What is Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC)?

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. It is known by the inflammation of the breast tissue. IBC is a rare form of breast cancer, accounting for only 1-5% of all breast cancer cases. It’s caused by the cancer cells blocking the lymphatic system in the breast, which causes its classic symptoms.

Risk factors

The exact cause of IBC is unknown, but several risk factors have been identified.

  • Female sex
  • Being aged 40-50 years old
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Being African American


Symptoms of IBC are often different from other types of breast cancer. These can include:

  • Swelling of the breast
  • Warmth and redness to the breast
  • Breast skin changes, such as dimpling or thickening, like an orange peel
  • Itching
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the arm
  • Nipple inversion

Anyone experiencing these symptoms may at first think they have an infection in the breast. However, they should seek evaluation urgently to rule out the presence of IBC.


Diagnosis of IBC is typically made through a combination of physical examination, imaging studies, and biopsy. A biopsy will be done to confirm the presence of cancer cells and determine the cancer type.


Treatment for IBC typically involves a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. In some cases, targeted therapy or immunotherapy may also be used. The specific treatment plan will depend on the stage and aggressiveness of the cancer and the patient’s overall health.

It is important to note that IBC is an aggressive form of breast cancer, and prompt diagnosis and treatment are needed for a good outcome. People with symptoms of IBC should immediately seek medical attention and discuss any concerns with their doctor.

Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare but serious type of cancer that affects the skin and tissue of the breast. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with IBC, it’s important to get familiar with the facts and understand what treatment and support options are available. There are many ways to help someone manage IBC, from providing emotional support to helping them access financial assistance and practical resources. By educating yourself on this disease and its impact, you can be a powerful advocate for those who need it most.

Julie Scott, DNP
Julie Scott, DNP
Julie is an oncology certified Oncology Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of medical oncology experience. In addition to her clinical work, she is an accomplished healthcare writer providing oncology content for various publications. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member for a Master's nursing program and a chair for Doctoral nursing students.

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