My 86 year old mother has been in denial about a lump in her breast for three yeas. It started out the size of a bean and grown to a size of a grapefruit. She has refused to believe it is cancer until recently. I came to visit her and finally got her in to see a breast surgeon yesterday who said it was Inflammatory Breast Cancer and the spread was way too large for surgery. She will not take chemo or radiation. The only option she said was to have a biopsy to see if anti-hormonal drugs can be used to shrink it. In all my on-line research I can’t fine any information about these drugs being used as a primary treatment – only after chemo or radiation. We are also getting a PET scan because she has a dry cough. If these meds do not work what is our timetable here? The tumor looks close to the surface and like it may be wanting to ulcerate – as the doctor said that would happen if nothing is done. Any words would be appreciated.
I am sorry to hear about your mother’s condition. Inflammatory breast cancer is rare type of cancer which can easily spread. It is caused by obstruction of the lymphatics of the skin of breast by cancer cells. There is redness of the skin with oedema.The skin may appear pinkish, reddish purple or bruised. The first line treatment of inflammatory breast cancer is systemic chemotherapy which helps in shrinking the tumour.It can be followed up by a surgery to remove the tumor and then radiation therapy. A multimodal approach for treatment of breast cancer has been found to be more successful compared to a single line of treatment. Hormone therapy is an adjuvant option along with surgery, chemo or radiotherapy. If the breast cancer cells have estrogen receptors drugs like astamoxifen can be used. It prevents estrogen from binding to its receptor and in this way estrogen receptor cancer cells stop growing and die. The standard surgery for inflammatory breast cancer is a modified radical mastectomy. The prognosis of inflammatory breast cancer depends on many factors like patient’s age, grade of tumor and patients overall health condition. Other modalities of treatment are targeted approach, neoadjuvant chemotherapy but all are used along with surgery or chemotherapy. Your mother seems to be in the advanced stage of cancer. You need to convince your mother to start chemotherapy or radiotherapy depending on her stage of cancer. In ulcerations and pain associated with ulceration radiation tends to be very effective. Hope you find this information useful. Do keep us posted on how she is doing.
Take care and good luck!
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