Debbie Strange-Browne

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Foundation


Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)

            Inflammatory Breast Cancer, also known as IBC, is a form of breast cancer that many people have never heard of. This is rightfully so since only 1% to 6% of all breast cancer cases are IBC. Currently, there are around 200,000 cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year. Men are susceptible to breast cancer as well, although male cases account for less than 1% of all cases.

            IBC is an uncommon form of breast cancer, but one of the most aggressive and potentially deadly forms if not diagnosed early enough or if misdiagnosed. IBC is often misdiagnosed as an infection of the breast, which can result in the delay of treatment. Antibiotics are useless in treatment, and a diagnosis of IBC will soon follow.

            IBC's name comes from the redness and other obvious changes in the breast. These changes or symptoms may include feelings of breast enlargement or thickness, warmth, swelling, or pain in the breast or nipple. The skin on the breast may appear pitted, like the skin of an orange. A lump may also be present, but many times no obvious mass is present. A discharge from the nipple may also occur, although this is not that common with IBC.

            Currently, long-term prognosis for this disease as a whole, is not very encouraging. Each patient's circumstances will determine his or her individual prognosis, so giving numbers or percentages here will not mean much. Treatment will usually have to be aggressive in order to keep this disease at bay.

            Traditionally, chemotherapy is the first line of defense in order to shrink the cancer in the breast and stop cancer cells that may have spread throughout the body. Surgery is generally performed after chemotherapy to remove the breast. Lumpectomy is not really a consideration since a lump may not be present, and IBC usually invades a larger portion of the breast. Finally, radiation therapy is targeted toward the area of breast removal and nearby lymph nodes in order to control the local growth of cancer cells. This may be done either before or after surgery, although usually after. Other treatment may be necessary depending on the individual's needs, and whether or not the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.

            New cancer drugs and treatments are here, and many are sure to be on the horizon. Along with new therapies, stem-cell and genetic research may be key in keeping IBC in check. Within the last few years, researchers at the University of Michigan have identified genes that may control the development of IBC. New discoveries will surely emerge that one day may help eradicate this disease.


Click below for an informative brochure about IBC.



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The information provided above is very general and advisory in nature, and may not be the most current and up-to-date material available. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted for the most current information available.


The Debbie Strange-Browne Inflammatory Breast Cancer Foundation