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Breast Cancer

Stretch marks, mild inflammation

05/14/1998

Question:

I am 53 years old, going through menopause. For the past 4 weeks, I noticed stretch marks beneath both breasts (I have gained 20 lbs. in the last 3 yrs). The marks on my left breast are inflamed looking, and also about half my breast skin looks like I have a sunburn. No heat, no lump, minor tenderness, normal mammogram results. Any suggestions as to the problem? Thanks

Answer:

I'm sure you've thought it may be an infection and indeed it may be. Do see your doctor right away for assessment and to be put on antibiotics. But if it doesn't get better after a week or two, then your doctor needs to consider the rare form of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer. It starts with redness of the skin but it is usually accompanied by warmth and swelling. There is no lump involved with inflammatory breast cancer. The redness is caused by the cancer cells in the lymph vessels of the skin which makes the skin red because the normal drainage of the lymph is blocked. Cancer can be diagnosed with a biopsy of the skin and the tissue under the skin. There is no need to do a biopsy if it is a simple infection of the breast tissue. Your doctor needs to see you to make a diagnosis. Please feel free to write again if you have further questions.

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Response by:

Janet   Trigg, RN, MSN, EdD Janet Trigg, RN, MSN, EdD
Formerly:
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati