Q. My breast swelled up and was hot and painful to the touch. My doctor treated me for mastitis, but it turned out to be inflammatory breast cancer. I think other women should be aware that not all breast cancers start with a lump.
A. That’s right. Inflammatory breast cancer does look a lot like mastitis, an infection of the breast that can have many causes. Mastitis is more common when you’re breast-feeding; and some women have a lifelong proclivity to bouts of mastitis. But if you’re experiencing a swollen, hot, painful, red breast for the first time, ask your doctor to carefully consider inflammatory breast cancer, and to test for it.
PJ Hamel is senior digital content editor and food writer at King Arthur Flour, and a James Beard award-winning author. A 16-year breast cancer survivor, her passion is helping women through this devastating disease. She manages a large and active online survivor support network based at her local hospital and shares her wisdom and experience with the greater community via HealthCentral.com.