Breast Cancer Without a Lump

This week a friend died, a fellow blogger who was a mom to two little boys, a wife, and a NASA scientist. Susan Niebur died after fighting inflammatory breast cancer for over five years, and while we all mourn the loss of an amazing person, we thought it best to let people know the symptoms of IBC.

Women are taught to feel for a lump when doing breast exams, but sadly, that’s not enough. The scary fact is that many younger women develop IBC and may notice the symptoms while pregnant or breastfeeding, but because the signs resemble mastitis, it’s easy to misdiagnose.

The signs of IBC, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Rapid change in the appearance of one breast, over the course of days or weeks
  • Thickness, heaviness or visible enlargement of one breast
  • Discoloration, giving the breast a red, purple, pink or bruised appearance
  • Unusual warmth of the affected breast
  • Dimpling or ridges on the skin of the affected breast, similar to an orange peel
  • Itching
  • Tenderness, pain or aching
  • Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm, above the collarbone or below the collarbone
  • Flattening or turning inward of the nipple

Our thoughts are with Susan’s family as they learn to live without her. Her husband wrote that in Susan’s memory, “please choose to make a difference somewhere, anywhere, to anyone.” We will do that, just as Susan did.

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