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What are symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer?

On the fifth of each month we remind women to do a self-breast exam.

St. Louis (KSDK) - On the fifth of each month we remind women to do a self-breast exam.

While most women look lumps in their breast, the symptoms for inflammatory breast cancer are different.

In this week's 8 Ways to Prevent Cancer segment we hear just how different those symptoms are.

Many women go to their doctors after noticing a lump on their breast. But you don't have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is very rare type of breast cancer, and the symptoms don't include a lump.

"The symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer are redness or erythema in the breast, sometimes its tender and swollen, and it can have what's called a podorange, or an orange skin appearance to it. So it's not the typical presentation of cancer that women think of, such as a lump in their breast," said Dr. Kate Appleton with the Siteman Cancer Center.

The symptoms are similar to a common infection in the breast called mastitis.

"So when we hear about women who had a delayed diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer, it's typically because the symptoms were mistaken for infection. So obviously inflammatory breast cancer is not going to respond to antibiotic therapy, like an infection would," said Dr. Appleton.

If you've been diagnosed with mastitis, and the infection doesn't respond treatment, more tests may be necessary.

"Inflammatory breast cancer can absolutely be detected on a mammogram, but when patients have symptoms, such as redness, swelling, tenderness, or that podorange appearance they really need to alert their health care provider," said Dr. Appleton.

Experts at Siteman see about 700 new breast cancer patients a year, and only a handful will have inflammatory breast cancer.

Our 8 Ways segment is a partnership with the Siteman Cancer Center.

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