A woman in Texas found out that a seemingly simple rash on her breasts was actually a very rare form of breast cancer. The disease is a very aggressive type of cancer that accounts for no more than 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancers.
The woman shared her story, hoping to raise awareness so that other women would detect the disease in time to get an efficient treatment.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer Patient Shares Her Story
Jennifer Cordts, a mother of two, noticed a small pink and brown rash on her breast in 2015. First, she believed that it was only sunburn or a type of inflammation caused by her bra. But even after purchasing new underwear upon the advice of her gynecologist, Cordts saw no improvement.
As the rash didn't go away, she looked for other medical opinions, hoping to find someone who could help her treat the rash. She even tried out anti-inflammatory medicine, but nothing seemed to help.
Then the rash started to cause Cordts pain, not just in the breast area, but to her arm as well. Although all the tests she had done showed no sign of cancer, including her mammogram, she Googled her symptoms and found out that the rash might not be benign at all.
One of the search results associated her symptoms with a rare type of breast cancer. Immediately after finding this out, Cordts did an MRI to make sure it wasn't the case. When the results came back, she was diagnosed with stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer.
Inflammatory breast cancer is an extremely rare form of the disease. It progresses rapidly, usually within weeks or months. Since the detection is not easily made, most of the women who suffer from this disease find out when the tumor has already extended to other parts of the body, according to data from the National Cancer Institute.
Cordts' disease cannot be cured in this advanced stage. She was given somewhere between three to five years to live. The woman knows there is nothing more she can do to prolong her life, but she insists on making her story known, so that other people can get diagnosed in due time.
Difficulties In Diagnosing Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include swelling and redness, which can often look like a normal rash. Additionally, the skin may look like the skin of an orange, due to the cancer cells blocking lymph vessels. Other symptoms include abnormal breast warmth, even when there is no lump.
These symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for mastitis, which is an infection of the breast. Patients should take this disease into consideration if the symptoms have appeared for less than six months, and the rash covers at least a third of the breast. Additionally, if the biopsy samples show a sign of invasive carcinoma, further examination is required.
In order to avoid a misdiagnosis, patients should go through imaging and staging tests. A mammogram and an ultrasound of the breast and regional lymph nodes are necessary, and a PET scan or a CT scan can be used to see if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
"Diagnosing inflammatory breast cancer depends a great deal on women coming forward when they are concerned about changes in their breasts. Because this kind of cancer can often be mistaken for an infection or an injury of the breast, women may delay seeking evaluation by their health care provider," noted Dr. Susan Hoover, a surgical oncologist in the Breast Cancer Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center.
While there are limited ways to find out about the disease, new study suggests there is a way to prevent breast cancer among women. The research suggested that low doses of aspirin decrease the risks of breast cancer.
According to the study, women who consumed low-dose aspirin at least three times a week were 16 percent less likely to develop breast cancer.