A reader recently asked me about the connection between IBC and triple negative breast cancer (estrogen-receptor-negative, progesterone-receptor negative, and Her2-negative). The results are mixed.
According to the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation, most cases of IBC are also triple negative, although I could find no citations to support that claim.
In recent research through the American Society of Clinical Oncology on women with TNBC, 12 percent of the women with TNBC also had IBC.
But, in a study in the journal The Breast 52 percent of the women with IBC were Her2 positive, which means they cannot be triple negative, as Her2-negative is the third part of that triplet. That leaves 48 percent who were Her2-negative, but they could have been any mix of estrogen and progesterone negatives and positive.
So, once again, the answer is that cancer is not one disease and may be as unique as out DNA. So, while there may be some connections between IBC and TNBC, it does not look like the two are inevitably linked.
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) can be difficult to diagnose, as it may show no obvious tumors. Its symptoms can seem like mastitis and some doctors may not recognize it as cancer. Instead, they prescribe antibiotics. Young women who are nursing can be at risk and should be aware that breast problems should be taken seriously.
The National Cancer Institute has a good overview of IBC.
I have had two good friends whose diagnosis of IBC required them to virtually force their doctors’ hands to have them tested. Both are smart, professional woman. One is a doctor herself. Yet their doctors did not take their symptoms seriously. Both were finally diagnosed and, because they lost so much time arguing with their doctors, their cancers were advanced and required aggressive treatment. The great news: Both are healthy and cancer-free. One is 11 years past diagnosis, and one is five years out. The first had both breasts removed. The second had aggressive chemo.