Rare Breast Cancer Without a Lump Is Truly Terrifying

breast cancer awarenessInflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC), have you heard of it? I hadn't until I read a touching piece from Liesl Voosen Fields, a woman undergoing treatment for IBC, on Huffington Post. IBC is a rare form of breast cancer that only accounts for 1 to 5 percent of all cases. The signs? Swelling and redness that affect a third or more of your breast.

In any case, finding out you have breast cancer can be a truly frightening experience. The scariest thing about this type of breast cancer, though? Often there's no lump that can be felt in a physical exam. That, and it often goes undetected by a mammogram.

Cue feelings of nervous anxiety ... now.


Liesl's story is scary. What she thought was a possible mastitis or summer rash was actually the rare form of breast cancer. She went through a week of testing and was then diagnosed with Stage IV IBC in September 2011. After undergoing chemo and a single mastectomy this year, she is thankful to report that her most recent pathology report showed no residual cancer.

... wow. Just wow. To think, a little redness could be an indication of a frightening, scary disease. Her story alone makes me want to see a physician for a checkup even though I'm nowhere near the age where most women start getting mammograms.

A story like Liesl's reminds us all that there's no such thing as being too careful. Conducting self exams (and doing them the right way) can make a huge difference for early detection of breast cancer, but knowing that IBC exists reminds many of us to actuallly examine the breast more often. LOOK at your ladies. Check for redness, check for swelling, and if something doesn't look normal -- don't just pretend it will go away. You never know if taking action could actually save your life.

Have you or anyone you know ever had Inflammatory Breast Cancer? Does it make you concerned?


Image via williami5/Flickr

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