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Saturday, June 30, 2012 MelissaAnn, Community Member, asks

Q: Can IBC redness/rash/swelling come and go over a course of almost 10 months?!?

It all started September 2011, I noticed a red blotch on my left breast. I used the internet for information and it brought up everything about Inflammatory breast cancer. So I saw my doctor and she referred me to a breast surgeon. I saw the surgeon and she said no it's no IBC and told me to use cortisone cream. It ended up going away, until a few short weeks later I developed a raised red swollen patch on my right breast. They don't itch, hurt, burn or look rough. I used cortisone cream on it for several weeks and it wasn't going away, so I went and saw the breast surgeon again. She again said it's not IBC and she was referring me to a dermatologist. The Dermatologist too said it doesn't look like IBC and prescribed me Desonide cream, after several weeks of trying to get this to go away, the Desonide cream started helping and eventually took care of it.
In March 2012 I found out I was pregnant, at 14 weeks I got another raised swollen red patch on my right breast. I tried not to freak out and put some Desonide cream on it. It was gone within 2 days.
I'm now 20 weeks pregnant and the other day, the same raised swollen red patch appeared and in the same area on the right breast. I started using Desonide and by day 2, it's gone. My nipples and areola's are very tender, but that could be because I'm pregnant.
My Ob doctor said he'd do a biopsy if it was still there by my next appointment, it's already gone after 2 days of Desonide cream use.

I'm still riddled with Anxiety over this, I don't know what it is, or what is causing it. Everything points to Inflammatory Breast Cancer and I read that the redness can come and go.

So my question is, can Desonide cream cure an IBC rash/redness/swelling? Should I demand more testing?

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Answers (2)
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
7/ 1/12 5:53am

Melissa Ann, Phyllis is our IBC specialist, and I know she'll be giving you feedback here. But in the meantime, here's my 2¢ -


IBC is pretty aggressive, and doesn't come and go; topical creams won't affect it. I think the dermatologist and your PCP are right, this isn't IBC, but rather some odd rash, allergy, or other issue.


Next step? Well, I'd guess it depends on just how worried you are, and how serious about getting to the bottom of this. You might try getting a referral to a breast specialist, if you choose to pursue a diagnosis; that would seem to be the next logical step. Good luck - PJH

Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
7/ 1/12 1:22pm

MelissaAnn, I saw your question on this topic in your private message to me and I answered it there.  I am going to copy my answer to you here because I know there will be people who will see this question in the future and want some answers.


I'm not a doctor, but I am an IBC survivor, and I have corresponded with hundreds of IBC patients over the years in online IBC support groups.  I think your doctors are right that this is not IBC for several reasons:

It has been on both your right and left breast.  IBC usually presents in just one breast.

It goes away with topical creams.  The redness associated with IBC usually doesn't go away. 

You don't seem to have swelling, which is one of the main symptoms of IBC, because in IBC cancer cells clog the lymph vessels in the skin of the breast causing swelling, which is often quite dramatic.

The problem has been "come and go" for months without getting worse.  IBC symptoms usually escalate rapidly, getting much worse in a matter of days or weeks.


So I think you can put your anxiety aside.  It is highly unlikely that this is IBC.  There are several conditions that look like IBC, so having IBC symptoms is not the same as having IBC.  Most of the time redness, itching, swelling, and skin dimpling turn out to be some sort of infection--either in the breast like mastitis or on the skin like dermatitis or a fungal rash.  However, in any batch of IBC survivors, there will usually be a person whose symptoms did not follow the usual pattern, so I would encourage you to continue to watch this area and ask for a biopsy if it gets worse or if it doesn't get better with the cream.


For now, concentrate on getting ready for the baby.  Enjoy life--balancing being alert for changes in your breast with understanding that the odds that this might be IBC are extremely low. 


If you are in the US, stay cool and enjoy Independence Day!



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By MelissaAnn, Community Member— Last Modified: 07/01/12, First Published: 06/30/12