WARNING FOR CAREGIVERS: Not all Breast Cancers Are the Same

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Knowing that I am a caregiver, a friend just sent me a video about a type of breast cancer most women have never heard of. I did some research to make sure it wasn’t one of those phony emails that so often go around and found that it was totally on the level. As caregivers, these breast cancer awareness facts can prove to be vital information at any time, and especially now – with October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month getting closer.

A brave mom, who has this disease , wrote about it on her blog:

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years.

Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her.

Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago. You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.”

(Thank you, Whymommy, for permission to post this at other sites. You are in my prayers!)

For more information, go to:

Breast cancer can strike at any age but knowledge is power. Please learn about this disease for your own sake, and for the sake of those you are caring for. And please pass this on to as many people as you know. Any time, of course, but especially in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  As with all cancers, early treatment is so very important!

P.S. Need some October Breast Cancer Awareness Month images?

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  1. Thank YOU for reposting it! IBC has been called the silent killer … and, as you can see, there is good reason why.

    Tomorrow begins ovarian cancer awareness month, by the way. Ovarian is even less likely to be detected before it spreads to other organs and bones.

    Some day we will have beat cancer. Until then, it’s important to know the signs. Thank you for spreading the word!

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