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Inflammatory breast cancer vs. Breast Infection
If you have any of the above symptoms, you might think you have inflammatory breast cancer. Before you panic, it’s important to note that IBC symptoms can mimic those of mastitis, a breast infection.
Mastitis can cause swelling, pain, and redness around the breasts. This condition is more common in breast-feeding women, but can also develop in women who don’t breast-feed. The infection can be caused by a blocked milk duct, or bacteria entering the skin through a crack or break around the nipple.
A primary difference between mastitis and inflammatory breast cancer is that mastitis may also cause a fever, a headache, and nipple discharge. These three symptoms are not typical of IBC. Since the symptoms of mastitis and inflammatory breast cancer are similar, you should never diagnose yourself with either condition. Let your doctor make the diagnosis. If you have mastitis, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Your symptoms should improve within a couple of days. Mastitis can sometimes cause a breast abscess, which your doctor may have to drain.
If your doctor diagnoses mastitis but the infection doesn't improve or worsens, follow up with another appointment. Mastitis that doesn't respond to antibiotics could actually be inflammatory breast cancer. Your doctor can schedule an imaging test or a biopsy to diagnose or rule out cancer. Treating the wrong condition can delay the care needed to treat IBC.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer is often misdiagnosed by physicians, surgeons and oncologists as a breast infection (mastitis); why, because most have little to no experience with IBC. Since most never see a case they treat what they see most often, breast infections. By not recognizing IBC, they prescribe a round of antibiotics and ointments. If symptoms do not go away after seven to ten days you should consults your doctor for a referral to a Breast Specialist or ask for a needle or core biopsy immediately. By the time the cancer is properly diagnosed it is already quite advanced and have spread to other areas of the body leaving its victims with poor prospects of survival.
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