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Researchers advocate for more education and attention regarding rare breast cancer
Date:10/19/2010

PHILADELPHIA (October 19, 2010)Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), an aggressive and rare malignancy, is often initially misdiagnosed as an infection or rash. However, getting the correct diagnosis quickly is critical for patients because the disease spreads beyond the breast in a matter of just days or weeks. With that in mind, leading specialists from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Fox Chase Cancer Center have written a review of the current scientific and medical understanding of IBC, which includes key information on diagnosis, imaging, treatment, and cutting-edge research.

"Inflammatory breast cancer is a disease that needs more attention, and more education for physicians and patients," says Massimo Cristofanilli, M.D., F.A.C.P., chair of the department of medical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center and senior author of the review, which will appear in the Nov/Dec issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

The American Cancer Society estimates that IBC accounts for 2.5% of all breast cancer cases in the United States, with 192,370 new diagnoses and 40,170 deaths expected this year. Yet Cristofanilli emphasizes that it is not necessary for physicians to have already seen a case of IBC to diagnose it properly. "If you know about it and you have a clinical suspicion, it is important to reach out to a specialist as soon as possible," he says.

Patients frequently come to their primary physician or gynecologists complaining of reddened skin and swollen breast, which might be initially mistaken for a rash or infection. "Ninety-five percent of women with IBC receive antibiotics for a while before they are correctly diagnosed," Cristofanilli says. "But it is important to recognize that you cannot have an infection without fever. If a woman is not nursing, is 55 years old, and has no other risk factors for mastitis, it is much more likely that she has a cancer than an infection."

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Contact: Diana Quattrone
Diana.Quattrone@fccc.edu
215-728-7784
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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