Inflammatory Breast Cancer: Visual Clinical Symptoms
In this patient's own words:
In doing my breast exam January 4, my left breast felt a bit fuller than
my right one. But no lumps. The next morning - my left breast was still
red - I thought I'd just squezed too hard. Two days later it was still
red, I called the doctor. He sent me for a mammogram and sonogram.
Nothing. After three weeks, the left breast was still red and a bit
larger, so I went to a breast surgeon friend of mine - along with the
mamogram and sonogram pictures, He said: "Dr. [XXX] is right - I see
nothing; however let me give you a week of antibiotics in case you've
got mastitis, and let's schedule you for an MRI, then we'll be absolutely
The MRI found cancer in the left lymph node, the radiologist took
a biopsy of the node plus the breast, inflammatory breast cancer
in both places. The diagnosis came March 1, almost two months after
finding it, but the doctors say that the symptoms were so slight:
we couldn't have found it any earlier. I am estrogen negative,
progestron negative, and Her2 positive so the Herceptin works
I'm taking two chemos plus herceptin for 4-6 treatments -
herceptin every week and surgery to remove the breast in July.
At present, they are saying after surgery more chemo, then
radiation. This is really an aggressive cancer and I feel really
lucky to have found it so soon. The doctors are all encouraged
that they will be able to make me cancer free in a year.
What you see in the picture:
- the breast has a red ring around it.
- The nipple area is a bit rough and slight yellow discharge
- The arm pit node is right in the middle and difficult to
find but before the first treatment it was about the size of a
Since the first Chemo, the redness has diminished, the lymph node is
almost normal, and the size of the breast is smaller - so it's at least
hitting the right places!
Enlarged right breast with nipple retraction. Peau d' orange on underside
of breast not visible in the photo above is shown in the next photo.
Peau d'orange on underside of breast, not visible when standing.
The small irregular red spot at the 11 o'clock position in this photo
is the scar remaining from a skin biopsy, not a symptom of inflammatory
breast cancer. While standing it may be necessary to use a hand
mirror to determine if peau d'orange may be found on the underside of
"axillary venous thrombosis": blood clots in small veins
in the armpit due to breast cancer. These "cords" disappeared
during chemotherapy treatment.
Peau d'orange of a different shape, color and texture than shown in the
earlier example, and involving part of the areola.