Breast Cancer - Inflammatory: Symptoms and Signs

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 04/2010

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Women with inflammatory breast cancer may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, women with inflammatory breast cancer do not show any of these symptoms. Or, these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition that is not cancer. If you are concerned about a symptom or sign on this list, please talk with your doctor. Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer may appear quickly and within a short time of each other.

  • A red, swollen, or warm breast. This symptom is caused when the cancer cells block the lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. Because inflammatory breast cancer cells are located within the lymph channels of the breast, it often quickly spreads throughout the body.
  • Skin or nipple changes, including ridges, puckering, or roughness on the skin. This roughness has been compared with the skin of an orange (peau d'orange).
  • A lump in the breast, although often there is not distinct lump
  • Pain in the breast or nipple
  • Nipple discharge

The next section helps explain what tests and scans may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Diagnosis, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.