Breast cancer/IBC symptoms

I am a 30 year old female. I have emailed the following to the BCC info email address for a specialist opinion, but am interested to hear the views of the forum users.

In October of last year I developed a 50p-sized red mark on my left breast, at about 10 o’clock as you look at the breast, about 2-3 inches away from the nipple. It began as a very small red mark around a white-ish area, but rapidly developed to bright red, 50p-sized. It was not itchy. It had a yellow area next to it for a few days, but the yellow subsided. I saw a nurse practitioner at my local GP surgery, who immediately called in a GP. The GP performed a breast examination, and concluded that it was a fungal infection to be treated with Daktakort. I used this anti-fungal cream for a week, as directed by the nurse, and returned a week later. The nurse was happy that the mark was fading and asked me to continue using the cream for another week. At the end of the second week the mark had not gone completely, so I returned to see a female GP (previous was male). This GP gave the area a quick prod, said to use the Daktakort for another month (and then proceded to ask me about anxiety symptoms - I felt like I was treated as a patient with anxiety, not as a patient presenting with a mark on her breast, who happens to be receiving separate treatment for anxiety!)

I have done exactly as the GP asked: I continued to use the Daktakort for a further month (taking me to the start of January), and then stopped using the cream. The mark has not completely gone; indeed, it is sometimes much more visible during times of the day than others. It isn’t, though, as red as it was when it first appeared. I would like to add that when the mark first appeared, a blue vein appeared at the side of the breast, about an inch in length, never visible before, and has remained visible to this day - no changes during menstrual cycles. Also, a blue vein, about 2-3 inches in vertical length, appeared in my neck starting at the collarbone and going up, on the same side as the breast with the mark, and has remained visible to this day - again, no changes in this. A few weeks ago I was woken with a stabbing pain in this area, followed by sharp, but short-lived stabbing pains in this area during that day. The pains were not the ‘I’ve slept on my neck strangely’-type, although they have not recurred to this day. What I have noticed in the last 2-3 weeks is a larger reddish-patch above my nipple, say about 3 x 50p sized on the same breast, and a reddish patch to the side of the nipple. have also noticed ‘ridges’ that I don’t believe I had before, around both nipple areas, but they are not particularly pronounced.

I am of course concerned about the appearance of the breast. I am aware that no lump needs to be present to suggest breast cancer (i.e. Inflammatory Breast Cancer, whose symptoms, I have read, can be quite subtle). I am understandably concerned about returning to a GP to be viewed as a patient with anxiety, rather than a patient who is understandably anxious about her breast.

Anyone out there who had similar symptoms (no lump, just red patches that faded with Daktakort, but not completely), but who pushed for further investigation. Thanks, in advance.

Hi Coelho

I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) in September. My symptoms weren’t like yours but some of them were similar. First and foremost is how quickly mine came on (which is a good sign for you as you have had yours for 3 months). In fact, my onc told me that I couldn’t have had it for long or my breast would’ve looked like a watermelon. Anyway, the first thing I noticed were some changes in the appearance of the skin on my breast…it was very minor and the best way to describe it is a hardening of the skin. I noticed that when I took off my bra the marks left from it stayed much longer on one breast than the other. The next symptom was some very slight changes to my nipple. Again, very minor but enough that I thought “I wonder what that is?” but largely ignored it. I suppose those changes appeared over a course of 3 or 4 weeks. I did go to my GP, who felt a lump in my armpit and referred me to Guy’s hospital breast unit. After that, during the next 2-3 weeks my breast began to swell up and was noticably bigger when I was wearing just a bra but not so much in clothes. By the time I got my appointment (shortly afterwards - about 4 weeks after seeing my GP), my breast was slightly pink and the Dr who examined me told me all about IBC and said he was worried about it. I had an ultrasound, which didn’t show much, a mammogram which was excrutiatingly painful on my cancerous breast but came back clear and two biopsies - a core needle biopsy and a biopsy on the lump under my arm. Both came back positive for cancer.

The Dr said that he was worried about the rapid spread so I started chemo the next week and am now just over halfway through with an amazing response to AC (my tumour has shrunk from over 10cms to just under 1cm). I have a long path ahead (surgery, rads, Herceptin for a year) and telling people “I have cancer” is just still way too stange, though I do it and am not afraid to hide the fact. I tell everyone I can about the symptoms of IBC as it doesn’t strike most women that the signs are dangerous.

I’m 31 and never in a million years did I think it was cancer but I asked my GP for the referral (I think she was going to refer me anyway because of the undearm lump) so please do make sure you insist on a referral. You won’t be wasting anyone’s time having it checked by specialists and it may just save your life. The thing that I can relate to you from your post is the stabbing pain. I had this, after I was diagnosed but before my chemo started and only had it once. It was very painful and was like a throbbing stabbing pain. I was actually at work when it happened and it made me feel really sick. You also say that the ridges in your skin are around both nipples - I think it would extremely rare to have breast cancer in both breasts so that is probably a good sign that it’s not cancer. Still, go and have it checked again!

Another IBC girl here.

Any changes to the breast need to be checked out, don’t be fobbed off, ask for a referral.

Redness is only one of the possible indications of IBC.
It is such an aggressive breast cancer, my feeling is that you would have had other typical symptoms during these past 4 months, such as rapid swelling if it were IBC.

Insist on that referral and please let us know how you get on.

Mabel x

cat76
Many thanks for taking the time to read my post and to reply. Can I ask you more about your throbbing stabbing pain? Was it in your neck or breast or both? Mine was in my neck (where the vein has become visible), followed by stabbing/throbbing pain in the area of the initial red mark.

Mabel
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post. Thanks for your encouragement to insist on a referral. X

Hi again Coelho

The stabbing pain was very distinctly only in my breast. It felt like my whole breast was throbbing. I said in my earlier post that it only occurred once but that’s not true. I remember having the same throbbing (but far less painful) a couple of consecutive days during my 3rd AC chemo. I was terrified this meant the tumour was growing but it wasn’t, it was obviously just some kind of side effect.

Have you been back to a specialist or a breast unit yet? You really must insist to your GP! It won’t take long and will be well worth it - either to give you peace of mind or to get treated if it is something nasty. I have high hopes for you that it is not but do let us know how you get on.

x

Hi Coelho
I too have been diagnosed with IBC and the stabbing pain in the breast is quite severe when it happens but it is intermittent in my case. The swelling of the whole breast, as said previously with bra marks on it, and the fact that the breast feels hot to the touch, as well as the nipple inverting was the indication for my consultant to immediately start chemo. I also had a painful arm first, which the A & E put in a sling and sent for me physio for the first week! I was lucky to have it diagnosed so quickly though. Get it checked out if you are worried - let us know how it goes.
xx

Cat76

I was interested that your tumour reduced quickly during your chemo - I am disappointed that the redness or swelling has not gone - I had my 3rd chemo yesterday. Can you tell me when your swelling went down? I too have a long road ahead with my consultant advising on a double mastectomy as a precaution rather than just in the infected breast. Have you been advised of the same?
xx

Butting in here…
I had 4 x FEC and the response was disappointing, followed by 6 x Tax where there was significant improvemment,especially in the lymph area.

I had left side mastectomy, surgeon felt this was enough to contend with added to which my right breast was completely clear.

Hope you see an improvement very soon,

mabel x

Coelho
I was just wondering how you are getting on - did you get any response? I have just finished 4 x FEC but still no improvement in the stabbing pain or the look of my breast. Maybe when I change to taxol there will be some improvement. Doctors keep telling me it is going well though. Let us know how you got on. xx

Hi Coelho,

did you get your referral?
How are you?

Penn1, taxol worked very well for me where FEC failed and there are no sicky side effects.
Hope your doing OK, let us know,

Mabel xx

Thanks Mabel

Thats really encouraging. I am actually looking forward to taxol now!!

Hope you are ok
Penn1 xx

Dear Penn,

Looking forward to taxol!!! LOL!!! (I do understand though)

I’m doing fine thank you for asking.

good Luck with the treatment, keep in touch,

Love
Jackie xx

hi
just wondering if anyone can help.
I had lumpectomy, snb, etc in feb/march last year, followed by chemo and rads. Finished treatment on xmas eve. Started on tamoxifen about Oct. I then developed a pulmonary embolism so spent a week in hospital stopped the tamoxifen and am now on warfarin.
This past 2 weeks i have noticed when i take my bra off my right breast where the cancer was before is slightly swollen as my bra leaves a more definite mark there.I am also experiencing a lot of aches in my armpit, shoulder and neck area. I thought the aching was due to the blood clot but that is being treated and i feel it is getting worse.
Am due my mammogram on Monday bur dont hold out much hope as my 3.4cm lump didn’t show up on the original one.
Am then to see my surgeon for results on May 7th.
Do you think i should mention it on Monday.
I worried i might have ibc.
Think i being paranoid could just be blocked lymph glands.
Thanks for listening
jackie
xxxx

Hi Jackie

Please feel free to contact our helpline team, which includes specialist breast care nurses and volunteers who have had an experience of breast cancer themselves, for support and further information on your concerns on 0808 800 6000 they are open again in the morning at 9am.

Best wishes
Katie

Jackie,

I have replied under your thread ibc.

Love
Jackie xx