Cosmetic Surgeon Warns Breast Cancer Isn't Always Detected by Finding a Lump

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Breast cancer cases are on the rise and have been increasing over the past 10 years. Thanks to advances in medical treatments, the number of deaths from breast cancer is declining, allowing many people to recover and live happy, healthy lives long after diagnosis. Yet one type of cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, is rising and is still hard to detect. One Colorado doctor hopes to change this.

Over 260,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Many will be self-diagnosed; others will be diagnosed through the use of a mammogram. For a good number of these women, they will discover breast cancer in the form of a lump.

Yet not all cancers are detected this easily. One such type of breast cancer is inflammatory breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is an advanced and accelerated form of breast cancer that usually does not show up on routine screening exams such as mammograms or ultrasounds.

"The signs, symptoms and treatment for inflammatory breast cancer are different from other forms of cancer," stated Jeremy Z. Williams, a cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon with Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery. "It's important to know all of the warning signs."

Warning signs, or symptoms, of inflammatory breast cancer are:

  •     swelling
  • itching
  • pink or dark colored area with an unusual texture (much like the skin of an orange)
  • ridges and thickened areas of the breast skin
  • a bruise that doesn't go away
  • nipple retraction
  • nipple discharge
  • breast is warm to touch
  • breast pain

"Inflammatory breast cancer usually grows in nests or sheets, rather than as a confined tumor, or lump. This makes it that much harder to detect," stated Dr. Williams. "Any time you notice changes in mammogram results from year to year, or if you develop any of these symptoms, you should be checked out by a doctor."

Inflammatory breast cancer requires immediate aggressive treatment with chemotherapy prior to surgery. Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis, a breast infection, and is often treated with antibiotics before the true cause is found. If a response to antibiotics is not apparent after a week, a biopsy should be performed.

Inflammatory breast cancer also is more common in certain ethnic populations. African American women have a higher incidence rate -- 10.1 percent of cases -- compared with white women at 6.2 percent of cases.

"Bottom line is if you discover breast cancer early, your chances for a normal, healthy life increase significantly," stated Dr. Williams. "Becoming aware of the symptoms will help women detect cancer as early as possible, and offer them a variety of options when it comes to cures, reconstruction, and living a long, happy life."

Dr. Jeremy Z. Williams

Dr. Jeremy Z. Williams is a cosmetic surgeon with Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery in Lone Tree, Colorado. He spent seven years at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, (ranked by U.S. News & World Report as America's #1 hospital for the last 15 years) training in the area of Plastic and Reconstruction Surgery. He has also recently been named an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic and Reconstruction Surgery at the University of Colorado at Denver Health Science Center and School of Medicine. Dr. Williams has had a lifelong interest in academic plastic surgery, and maintains an active interest in the pursuit of new innovations through research in the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery.

About Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery

Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery is located in Lone Tree, Colorado. It provides outpatient surgery for a variety of plastic surgery procedures, including abdominoplasty or tummy tucks, facial procedures including rhinoplasty or nose surgery, and breast enhancement and reconstruction procedures.

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