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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 deb, Community Member, asks

Q: what is the last stages of ibc with out any treatment at all

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Answers (1)
Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
8/31/10 5:49pm

Deb, all breast cancer, including inflammatory breast cancer, (IBC) can have up to four stages.  Because IBC is an aggressive cancer that is in the lymphatic system of the skin of the breast, it is automatically a Stage IIIB cancer no matter how early it is caught.  Untreated, IBC would proceed to Stage IV.  The details of the symptoms a person would experience at Stage IV would depend on where the cancer cells traveled.  In the bad old days before doctors figured out a way to treat IBC, they sent IBC patients home and told them their breast cancer was "inoperable."  The average length of survival at that time was about 18 months.  I'm a 12 year IBC survivor, so I'm very glad I chose treatment.  Although IBC is still a very serious diagnosis, combining chemo with surgery and radiation has significantly improved the survival rate.

deb, Community Member
9/ 1/10 2:26am

i'm lookingafter an elderly lady which i think has ibc ,she has never gone for treetment never seen a doctor in over 30 year . I recently called the doctor after a fall she had i noticed the bleeding from the breast badly , the doctor has never said it is this but tried to send her to breast clinic and she has refused to go. She is finding it really had to talk without loosing her breath she is tiring really easy but still refuses to go to hospital total loss of appertite, aslo she is fetching up loads of flem.She is 84 and lost a few members of her family to cancer i don't know how long she has has this nurses are coming to dress this every day. Her left breast is also turning a purple like colour and her nipple is inverted she told me she has never felt a lump and she think she has banged it a while ago, she also says she has no pain.I don't know what to expect or how long she has left i don't even really know if she really knows what she has, she is just so frightened to end up in a hospice as thats where her husband and son ended up there.

Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
9/ 1/10 6:00am

Deb, I'm so sorry that you and the lady you are taking care of are having to deal with this.  She might have IBC, or she might have had a lump for a more common kind of breast cancer that has spread to the skin.  Untreated "regular" breast cancer eventually can cause the same symptoms.

In either case, the shortness of breath might indicate that cancer has spread to her lungs.  Of course, at age 84 she might have some other sort of lung or heart problem that would cause the same problem, and the breast issues could be separate.  There is no way to know how much longer she might live.  Breast cancer that has spread to the lungs is the most common cause of death in breast cancer patients.  

Are the nurses giving you any good information about how to help her?  I'm sure the word Hospice is very scary to her, but many Hospice programs can come to her home with oxygen and pain medication that would ease her symptoms.  She would have to give permission for them to come, but a family member could make the initial call.  Whatever she decides to do, I'm sure your kindness and concern for her are a comfort to her in this difficult time.

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By deb, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/27/10, First Published: 08/31/10