women 4 hope

Dedicated to addressing women’s issues.

Did You Know There Is An “Invisible” Form Of Breast Cancer? (With YouTube Video)

Posted by Catherine Morgan on August 7, 2007

An “Invisible” Form Of Breast Cancer — by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted at BlogHer)

I started writing this post to cover a new study on the benefits of using MRI for the diagnosis of breast cancer (full report). It’s an important study, especially for women in a high risk category.

In the process of collecting information on the MRI study, I found myself wondering if an MRI could detect Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)?

If you are not already aware of Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC), you may be surprised to learn that this is a deadly and virtually “invisible” form of breast cancer. Even though there is now more awareness of this type of breast cancer, it troubles me that there still seems to be no effective early diagnostic tool.



Truth be told. It more than troubles me, it down right pisses me off (sorry)… infuriates me. Five years ago, someone (Becky) very close to me died from this insidious form of breast cancer. And as recently as a few weeks ago, I spoke with a surgeon who told me there is still no way to detect this type of cancer in it’s early stages, and that it is still often misdiagnosed and mistreated.

So, when I read about the success of MRI as a diagnostic tool for breast cancer, and read that its main fault is being “too” sensitive an image (and in-turn leading to sometimes unnecessary biopsies)…It made me wonder if this may someday (hopefully soon) be the answer to detecting Inflammatory Breast Cancer? But until then, we (women) need to be vigilant in understanding the symptoms of both a lump in our breast, as well as changes in the appearance of our breast. When it comes to Inflammatory Breast Cancer — *WE* are the first line of defense, not the doctor, and not the mammogram.

From the Young Survival Coalition



What are the symptoms of IBC?

Rapid, unusual increase in breast size; Redness, rash, blotchiness or other skin color; changes of the breast; Persistent itching of breast or nipple; Lump or thickening of breast tissue; Stabbing pain and/or soreness of breast; Feverish breast; Swelling of lymph nodes under the arm or above the collar bone; Dimpling or ridging of breast; Flattening or retracting of nipple; Nipple discharge or change in pigmented area around nipple. Although the above symptoms may indicate a benign breast disorder, any change to your breast(s) should be reported to your healthcare professional immediately. In addition, these symptoms may appear quickly and suddenly.

At Toddler Planet a scientist turned stay-at-home mom is (courageously) blogging about her experience of being recently diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. In this particular post she goes through each and every test and examination done prior to her diagnosis.



I will say that the waiting is difficult. The other thing that I have found difficult is the tests. I’ve had so many tests already that I’m having a hard time keeping them straight. If you are too, or you’re curious about how this whole diagnosis thing goes down, then here’s a post for you.

Also see: Steal this post and Laugh. Play. Build. Learn. Oh, and beat cancer.

Back to the MRI study…Unfortunately, even when an MRI is recommended, many will still have the problem of insurance companies not wanting to cover the charge (or being uninsured and not being able to afford the more expensive test).



This study was not designed to determine whether mammography or MRI is a better screening test for breast cancer in women who are at average risk. Mammography is an excellent tool for screening women at average risk for breast cancer especially because it is easily accessible and less expensive than MRI. The amount insurance companies pay for screening mammograms varies from $85 to $150, while the amount paid for MRI scans ranges from $ 800 to $ 2,000. The amount that a patient may pay for these screenings can vary considerably from these insurance payment amounts across the U.S.



The study results strongly support MRI as a complement to — but not a replacement for –mammography. MRI improves the evaluation of the extent of disease in patients above and beyond what mammography can contribute. This finding suggests that patients who undergo a thorough diagnostic work-up, at the time of the initial diagnosis of a breast cancer, will benefit from having an MRI of the opposite breast to enhance that work-up.

The Cancer Blog



Conventional wisdom says the best ways to detect breast cancer are
through self-exam and yearly mammograms. Now a new study shows that
although MRI screenings may lead to more biopsies, they appear to be
the best method for women at risk for breast cancer, especially those
with dense breast tissue.

At Cancer Commentary — See MRI Detects More Breast Cancer In High Risk Women



I think women at high-risk for breast cancer should take advantage of
MRI especially when you kind-a doubt the negative results of
mammography and ultrasound.

CancerFocus — According to the National Cancer Institute, genetic predisposition accounts for five to 10 percent of all breast cancers. Women who are genetically at high risk for breast cancer need to begin screening at a younger age, because they often develop cancer earlier than women at average risk. However, women below age 50 are more likely to have dense breast tissue, which can limit the effectiveness of mammography as a screening tool. The American Cancer Society recommends that women with a high risk of developing breast cancer should be screened with MRI in addition to their yearly mammogram beginning at age 30.

Other BlogHers blogging and living with breast cancer…

Laurie is at “Not Just About Cancer” — It’s also her 40th Birthday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY LAURIE!

Minerva is at “A Woman of Many Parts“.

Jeanne Sather, author of The Assertive Cancer Patient, is an outspoken advocate for the cancer patient’s point of view. She has written about taking part in clinical trials, living with incurable cancer, “pink ribbon” marketing run amok, strategies for getting through cancer treatment, how to help when a friend has cancer, and much more.

Contributing Editor Nordette did a post titled “Mothers, daughters, and dealing: What Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer?

If you are a BlogHer blogging or living with breast cancer, please leave a link to your blog in comments.

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
also at Women 4 Hope and Informed Voters



17 Responses to “Did You Know There Is An “Invisible” Form Of Breast Cancer? (With YouTube Video)”

  1. […] Posted by Rachel on August 8th, 2007 There has been a fair bit of coverage of inflammatory breast cancer recently, a “lumpless” form of the disease. This blogger was diagnosed recently, and Catherine covered the topic this week on Voices for Hope. […]

  2. RubyShooZ said


    I would once again like to thank you for all you do. You are much appreciated and cared for. I have made a point to go to all the links on my blogroll and tell those people that they are loved – that includes you – and actually all your readers here. 🙂


    ~ RubyShooZ ~

    Peace, love and understanding.

  3. RubyShooZ said

    I forgot – I am wondering if a PET/CT scan might be a better, more thorough option for at risk women than an MRI?

  4. […] For Hope – August 7: https://women4hope.wordpress.com/2007/08/07/did-you-know-there-is-an-invisible-form-of-breast-cancer-… The United States of Motherhood – August 7: […]

  5. […] funny because I saw this about a week ago thanks to Catherine Morgan at Women4Hope and I had meant to post about it. I saved the link and got caught up with other things this week – […]

  6. […] which we continually focus upon and fear), but was spurred to do so after reading this morning at this blog and another on […]

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