By Vera Viner

We’ve all probably heard of the Pancreatic Cancer Action’s campaign spreading the word of one of the most difficult cancers to treat. The ad included one woman who said, “I wish I had breast cancer,” the Huffington Post reported. She defended her decision because she faced a horrible survival rate and knew there was little that could be done. It’s true that many breast cancers, especially when diagnosed early, can be treated and women’s lives can be saved.

However, there is one type of breast cancer that seems to be the pink elephant in a room full of breast cancer survivors. Inflammatory breast cancer is a very aggressive disease that also has lower survival rates. The symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include redness, swelling, tenderness and overheating of the breast, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Your skin will look pink, red, purplish, or even bruised. Your skin will also look like it has ridges, similar to what an orange looks like. Sometimes the size of your breasts may increase or swell and your nipples may become inverted. If you do have some of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately but remember that it may be another condition such as an infection.

Within this disease, cancerous cells often block the lymph nodes or vessels. One out of five women diagnosed with breast cancer will have inflammatory breast cancer. This disease progresses very rapidly, often as fast as weeks or months. If you notice any of the symptoms, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. It is often found at stage 3 or stage 4 by the time women see a doctor.

If you are overweight or obese, you are also at higher risk for inflammatory breast cancer. If you or your doctor suspects you have inflammatory breast cancer, you will need a mammogram and ultrasound as well as a CT scan and bone scan to see whether it has spread to other parts of your body.

The five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer is rather dismal – it is only 34 percent. However, your cancer prognosis is dependent on countless of factors including the stage your cancer was diagnosed at, the tumor grade, estrogen receptor status, and how well you respond to treatment.

Breast cancer is a very complex disease. There are both good outcomes and bad. Inflammatory breast cancer is definitely one of the more deadly diseases women find themselves dealing with.


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