If inflammatory breast cancer is suspected, what are the next steps?

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BethOvermoyerMD (Physician - Oncology (Verified) ) - 08 / 11 / 2013

If a person (man or woman) notices the onset of redness (erythema) of the breast associated with thickening of the skin of the breast, they should be concerned that this is either an infection or IBC. For this reason, the person should see their healthcare provider as soon as possible, be placed on antibiotics and undergo breast imaging and a referral to a breast surgeon. I recommend not waiting to see if the antibiotics work prior to undergoing the breast imaging (ultrasound, mammogram) and the surgical consultation. If there is anything unusual seen on the imaging, such as lymph node enlargement, then a biopsy of the breast should be performed. A biopsy of the skin is easily performed also, but it can be negative in 25% of the cases with IBC, therefore a negative skin biopsy should not exclude this disease, and a breast biopsy is still necessary. The surgeon will follow the response of the breast to antibiotics and coordinate the biopsies if any abnormal finding is seen on imaging or if the antibiotic treatment does not result in complete resolution of the skin changes in the breast.

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