Inflammatory Breast Disease and IB Cancer Symptoms
Copyright 2012 - Kris Heeter, Ph.D.
There are three main types of inflammatory breast conditions and disease:
- Mammary Duct Ectasia
- Lactational Mastitis
- Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Inflammation within the breast tissue can occur in a number of different tissue types and breast inflammation has the potential of being a symptom of a serious underlying disease.
A breast is made up of three main parts:
- Glands (where milk is produced)
- Ducts (these tubes carry milk to the nipple)
- Connective tissue
The connective tissues is fibrous and fatty and serves to hold everything together.
Symptoms of each of the three conditions mentioned are outlined below:
Mammary Duct Ectasia
Mammary duct ectasia is also called periductal mastitis. It is an inflammatory condition that stems from infection of breast ducts.
With this infection the ducts become blocked with protein, cholesterol, calcium deposits and bacteria.
According to the Mayo Clinic, sometimes there are no symptoms. However, the following symptoms may suggest a duct infection and inflammation:
- Breast tenderness
- Discharge from the nipple
- Redness at the nipple or surrounding area
- A lump or thickening near the clogged duct
- An inward or inverted nipple
Typically the infections can clear up on their own. If they do not, it is important to see a doctor as some of these symptoms are shared with a more serious cancerous condition (see below).
The most common form of breast inflammation is called Lactational Mastitis.
It can be found in women who breastfeed. Lactational mastitis is caused by a bacterial infection of the breast tissue, and leads to inflammation that can possibly abscess.
Symptoms can include:
- Breast tenderness
- Breast swelling
- Pain or a burning sensation continuously or while breast-feeding
- Skin redness, often in a wedge-shaped pattern
Related Breast Cancer Articles
Click on the title to read more:
IBC: Inflammatory Breast Cancer
The most serious inflammatory breast disease is IBC (Inflammatory Breast Cancer).
It is typically an aggressive type of breast cancer that may not be detected in a standard mammogram or ultrasound.
It accounts for approximately 1% to 6% of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States.
Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as another benign inflammation condition. It's important to know the symptoms and if treatment for another breast condition, like an infection, does not work to insist upon a biopsy.
Breast changes that occur quickly over a short period of time should be monitored.
Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include:
- Pain in the breast
- A bruise on the breast that doesn't go away
- Sudden swelling of the breast
- Itching of the breast
- Nipple retraction or discharge
- Swelling of the lymph nodes under the arm or in the neck
- Skin color and texture changes in the breast area
What Is Normal?
Always keep in mind that what is normal breast tissue for one person may not be normal for the next.
It is quite common for women to have to have lumpy breasts.
The two most common causes of breast lumps are:
- a fibrocystic breast condition
A fibrocystic condition causes noncancerous changes in the breast that can make them lumpy, tender, and sore.
Cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that can develop in the breast.
Both of these conditions can be common and account for a significant number of lumps detected by women in a self examine.
Some lumps will change or seemingly disappear in women with active hormonal cycles. It is important to note these changes and discuss them with a health care provider.
And finally, breasts tissue changes as we age so it is important to also discuss these changes as they occur with a health care provider.