Surviving Breast Cancer: Inflammatory Breast Cancer
By: Tiffany Sisson
Breast cancer is something women think they know all about: Look for lumps, have mammograms, see our doctors. But, none of that will save you from one silent breast cancer killer.
Inflammatory breast cancer or IBC is a rare, but deadly disease. Doctors usually don't spot IBC until it's too late, and, it's often found in young women.
It's a sign Kathy McCray never found. Breast cancer found her. "I was always looking for a lump, and that was the sign for breast cancer," said McCray.
McCray has been living with IBC for four years. "You're stunned! It takes a minute. You have to stop and think about it. I have cancer," said McCray.
McCray knew something was wrong when she noticed changes in her right breast. McCray said each month during her period, "My breast was hard, and it was firm."
Like most women, McCray recently had a mammogram.. Still despite all the medical tests, McCray couldn't help but feel something was different. "It just wasn't right. That's when I went to the doctor," said McCray.
The news she walked away with floored McCray. She had Inflammatory Breast Cancer. IBC appears in sheets of cancer, or what doctors call cancer nests, but it's often misdiagnosed. "Inflammatory Breast Cancer can mimic infections, cellulitus on the breast," explained Dr. Robert Smith, an oncologist.
Classic IBC symptoms include rapid increase in breast size, redness, skin hot to the touch, persistent itching, and an orange peel texture to the breast. An inverted nipple is also a warning sign. "A woman needs to be aware, if there's anything that changes in the breast, she should seek medical advice early," said Smith.
That's exactly why McCray believes she's still leading an active life. She caught it early. "Once you get over that period of denial, don't let it last too long. During that period of time frame anything could happen. You could be taking days off your life," exclaimed McCray.