Monday, May 6, 2013

It's All About "The Girls" ...... and "The Boys"

what is breast cancer, inflammation, inflammatory

I'd like to say I'm going to be talking about "the girls" today, but this post also applies to "the boys" as well.  Breast cancer affects both men and women and the one particular form this post addresses, Inflammatory Breast Cancer, does not discriminate based on sex. 

I know, as do many adults, to perform monthly breast exams and to have mammograms performed regularly, as recommended by my physician. Last summer  I was introduced to this particular type of breast cancer and I was suprised to learn that all of the monthly screening exams we've been taught to perform will not detect this particular type of cancer.

Unfortunately, the way I learned of Inflammatory Breast Cancer was due to the passing of a friend's family member afflicted with this very deadly form of cancer.  While the information says this type of cancer is rare, another friend's family member just passed away from it.  For most of us, "rare" means it doesn't affect your family or your friends.  This has affected 2 of my friends in less than a year, so it's become much less "rare" in my little world.

Because the symptoms are different, as are the diagnostic tools, I think it's time to try and help spread the word regarding this type of cancer, especially since the warning signs are not what you would associate with the word cancer.  So, with a bit of research from multiple websites, here are the most common signs.  And sorry fellas, but I'm not referring to your breasts as pectorals or pecs.  I could, however, call them man-boobs....... but I'll just stick with breasts.

The 5 Signs of Inflammatory Breast Cancer are:

1) Itchy, red, or sore breasts.  There may even be a rash, or may just feel itchy like you have a rash.  There may be a small red spot which looks like a bug or spider bite.  The breast may feel swollen or heavy and the skin may take on a thickened look and even a purplish hue.  The breast may exhibit the appearance of an orange peel.  Due to the swelling of the breast, tumors or lumps are extremely difficult to detect, so there may be no lump detectable to the touch.

2) You may experience upper back pain located between the shoulder blades, similar to a pulled muscle.

3) Nipple changes. Because the cancer is located underneath the nipple, the tumor can cause the nipple to become flat or inverted, or the skin of the nipple may become crusty, scaly, or red.  There may be a discharge from the nipple.

4) You might notice a change in the size or shape of one breast.  The breast may even become more oval shaped and possibly hang lower than the other.

5) You may experience pain, swelling, or a lump in your armpit.

If you experience even 1 of these symptoms, all of the researchers advise getting in to see your physician immediately without delay. 

There are still physicians across the USA who are not familiar with this type of breast cancer.  If your physician is one, direct them to the American Cancer Society's website, or to the Susan G. Komen website, or to the National Institute of Health's website, or find a physician who is familiar with it.  Time is of the essence.

Help spread the word and help save lives.  The sooner a man or woman is able to have this type of cancer detected and treatment started, the better chance they have at surviving.

by: Christie Bielss

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