Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) is a rare kind of breast cancer that affects a small proportion of the population. IBC can occur in both men and women. When breast cancer develops, dark redness and heat may appear in the breast, giving the nerve blockage look like an infection.

One of the most deadly types of breast cancer, IBC, can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Today, we will take an in-depth look at IBC and what makes it the most inflammatory form of breast cancer, the type of IBC breast cancer, risk factors, symptoms, and treatments.

What Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)

IBC looks like a virus or breast infection at first sight, but it's not. Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is identified as aggressive cancer that causes inflammation of the breast skin, which makes it appear breast redness, swollen, and feel warm, similar to an infected area.

IBC can spread quickly to other parts of the body and is very difficult to treat. It is often misdiagnosed as mastitis, a common bacterial infection that can affect breast tissue. Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) spreads more rapidly than any typical breast cancer.

It spreads through the lymphatic system and is even more difficult to diagnose lately. This makes it particularly difficult to detect and cure if inflammatory breast cancer is not detected at an early stage.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Types

About 264000 women in the USA are diagnosed with breast cancer. Around 44,000 women and 500 men died from breast cancer in 2022. Inflammatory breast cancer can be divided into four types, each with its own characteristics and prognoses. The four types are

1. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)

This type of known as a common type of IBC in Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Malignant cells (in the lymph system) proliferate rapidly and infiltrate healthy cells. The lymph system is well-known for its malignant cells (inside it) that adapt and proliferate uncontrolled. It usually starts in the milk-producing glands of the breast and spreads to other parts of the body.

2. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC)

This type of IBC is referred to be a sluggish mass of erythrocytes (RBC) that infect healthy cells. It typically originates in the lobules of the breast, which are the small glands that produce milk and can spread to other areas of the body.

3. Mucinous Carcinoma

Mucinous Carcinoma is a kind of cancer that begins in mucus-producing glands. The pancreas, appendix, and colorectal area are the most typically affected.

4. Inflammatory Carcinoma

Inflammatory Carcinoma is a rarer kind of breast cancer that accounts for about 1-5% of all cases.

What Are the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Risk Factors?

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Family history
  • Personal history of breast cancer
  • Genetics
  • Overweight
  • Reproductive history
  • Hormonal factors
  • Lifestyle factor

Symptoms Of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

A girl checking lymph nodes under the arm for swollenness

IBC the symptoms include unexpected breast swelling, skin irritation, and breast pain. IBC is often treated with a mix of surgery, radiation treatment, chemo, and laser surgery. The most common signs of inflammatory breast cancer are an overall thickening of the breast tissue that may feel like a breast lump or a thickening in the skin of the breast like a tumor.

Symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer may include:

  • Rapid swelling and redness of the breast.
  • Warmth and tenderness.
  • Dimpling or pitted skin on the breast.
  • A change in the shape or size of the breast.
  • An inverted nipple.
  • A rash or crusting on the nipple.
  • Orange peel-like appearance of the skin.
  • Pain or discomfort in the breast.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm or around the collarbone.

Additional symptoms include tenderness in the affected breast, warmth, and changes in the skin's texture or discoloration. No matter what type of Inflammatory Breast Cancers you have, it is important to get seek medical attention in order to receive an accurate diagnosis and start treatment.

The Early Warning Signs

A woman confronting oncologist about breast pain and tenderness 

One of the most noticeable warning symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer includes inflammation, skin irritation, discomfort, and skin edema. The breast may also look pitted, much like an orange peel, and the nipple may become inverted. The early signs are

  • Breast Pain or Tenderness: Breast pain or tenderness can also be a sign of IBC. The pain may be continuous or come and go and may be accompanied by swelling and redness of the breast.
  • Breast Soreness or Irritation: Soreness and irritation in the breast, especially if associated with a burning sensation, may be an indicator of IBC. This soreness or irritation can occur suddenly and can affect one or both breasts.
  • Signs Of inflammation on skin: Female body skin changes such as swelling, puffiness, or bulging can also be an indication of IBC. The skin may also appear red and warm, and there may be ridges or bumps that were not present before.

If you face see any of these symptoms, do a screening as fast as possible. Chances are, your cancer will be detected early.

Importance of Early Detection

Early detection of inflammatory breast cancer is crucial for improving treatment outcomes and increasing the chances of a successful outcome. When IBC is caught in its early stages, there is a greater chance of treating it effectively with surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.

Early diagnosis also allows for a more personalized treatment plan and may improve the chances of conserving the breast. Make sure to observe any symptoms of IBC and seek emergency treatment quickly in the event that they arise.

Diagnosis of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

A doctor performing mammography to check inflammatory breast cancer

The Medical Exam

To diagnose IBC, an inflammatory breast cancer specialist will perform a physical examination of the breast and take a detailed medical history. During the test, the breast surgeon looks for any changes in the appearance of the right breast or the left one, including swelling, redness, and thickening of the skin.

Imaging Tests

Imaging tests and diagnostic imaging techniques, including mammograms, ultrasonography, and magnetic resonance images (MRI), may potentially be used to diagnose IBC. If cancer responds to these tests, then these tests can help to confirm the presence of cancer and determine the size and location of a breast infection.

Biopsy Results

Biopsy, which involves removing a sample of tissue from the breast for laboratory testing, is the only way to confirm a diagnosis of IBC patients. The breast biopsy sample will be examined under a microscope to determine if cancer cells are present and to identify the type of cancer cells.

Treatment Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Treatment for inflammatory breast cancer is generally a combination of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and other forms of systemic therapy. Surgery is typically recommended to remove the cancerous tissue in the breast and possibly in surrounding nearby lymph vessels or nearby lymph nodes.

Radioactive treatment is used after surgery to kill any leftover cancer cells and to lower the chance of regrowth. After diagnosis and treatment, Clinical Breast Exam (CBE), or CT scan can be used to help visualize the breast and surrounding tissues. This might help to determine the action for the individual. The goal of treatment for IBC is to control cancer and to achieve long-term remission or cure.

Coping With The Diagnosis After Treatment

An IBC patient attending counselling group

Finding Support: Diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) can be overwhelming and difficult to process. It is important to find support from family member, friends, or a support group. This can help to provide emotional support to talk about feelings and concerns.

Making Treatment Decisions: After being diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, it is important to work with a healthcare team to develop a personalized treatment plan to stop the spreading of cancer. This may involve surgery, radiation therapy, or several rounds of chemotherapy.

Dealing with Emotional Impact: A diagnosis of IBC can be emotionally difficult to cope with. It is essential to look for yourself, both mentally and physically. This can include engaging in physical activity, practicing stress management techniques, and seeking support from doctors, therapists, or a counselor.

It is important to remember that every individual's experience with IBC is different and that there is no right or wrong way to cope.


Here are all of the steps that led to you discovering whether you have inflammatory breast cancer or not. If you have any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately. To determine if you have IBC, your doctor may do a physical exam, mammogram, radiograph, biopsy, or ultrasonography test. Early detection and treatment are essential in the control and diagnosis of IBC.

Early detection and taking the necessary steps are crucial for improving a successful outcome. It is important to be aware of the warning signs of IBC and to seek medical attention as soon as possible if they occur.


Q: What factors contribute to Black women having a higher incidence of inflammatory breast cancer compared to white women?

Ans: The reason for the disparity in the incidence of inflammatory breast cancer between Black and white women remains unclear and is believed to be a result of a complex interaction of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

Q: Is inflammatory breast cancer hereditary?

Ans: Inflammatory breast cancer is not hereditary and may increase a person's risk of developing breast cancer. Such as BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Q: What is the Inflammatory breast cancer survival rate

Ans: Inflammatory breast cancer patients had a 40-57% 5-year survival rate.

Q: What is ICD-10 code for history of breast cancer?

The ICD-10 code for breast cancer is C50.9. In most cases, doctors and insurance companies use the ICD-10 code to document and report the diagnosis, treatment, and outcome of the disease for reimbursement and data analysis purposes.