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Inflammatory breast cancer

Breast cancer is cancer of breast tissue. Worldwide,it is the most common form of cancer in females, affecting approximately 10% of all women at some stage of their life in the Western world. Although significant efforts are made to achieve early detection and effective treatment, about 20% of all women with breast cancer will die from the disease, and it is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in women. more...

ICF syndrome
Ichthyosis vulgaris
Imperforate anus
Inborn error of metabolism
Incontinentia pigmenti
Infant respiratory...
Infantile spinal muscular...
Infective endocarditis
Inflammatory breast cancer
Inguinal hernia
Interstitial cystitis
Iodine deficiency
Irritable bowel syndrome



The risk of getting breast cancer increases with age. For a woman who lives to the age of 90 the chances of getting breast cancer her entire lifetime is about 12.5% or 1 in 8. Men can also develop breast cancer, but their risk is less than 1 in 1000 (see sex and illness). This risk is modified by many different factors. In a very small (~ 5%) proportion of breast cancer cases, there is a strong inherited familial risk. Some racial groups have a higher risk of developing breast cancer - notably, women of European and African descent have been noted to have a higher rate of breast cancer than women of Asian origin. (figures from However, these apparent racial differences diminish when geography is altered, as Asian women migrating to the western world, gradually acquire risk approaching that of western women.

The probability of breast cancer rises with age but breast cancer tends to be more aggressive when it occurs in younger women. One type of breast cancer that is especially aggressive and disproportionately occurs in younger women is inflammatory breast cancer. It is initially staged as Stage IIIb or Stage IV. It also is unique because it often does not present with a lump so that it often is not detected by mammography or ultrasound. It presents with the signs and symptoms of a breast infection like mastitis.


Two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, have been linked to the rare familial form of breast cancer. Women in families expressing mutations in these genes have a much higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who do not. Not all people who inherit mutations in these genes will develop breast cancer. Together with Li-Fraumeni syndrome (p53 mutations), these genetic aberrations determine around 5% of all breast cancer cases, suggesting that the remainder is sporadic. Genetic counseling and genetic testing should be considered for families who may carry a hereditary form of cancer.


Alcohol is another risk factor for the development of breast cancer. Women who drink half a glass of wine every day have 6% increased risk of developing breast cancer where as women who drink two drinks or more daily may have 37% increased chance of developing breast cancer. 1


The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France invited 21 scientist from 8 countries in June 2005, to evaluate the risk of cancer for humans of combined estrogen-progestogen contraceptives and combined estrogen-progestogen menopausal therapy. The working group found that there is a small increase in the relative risk of breast cancer in current and recent users of combined oral contraceptives.


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Pill puzzle: do antibiotics increase breast cancer risk?
From Science News, 2/21/04 by J. Travis

After poring over the pharmacy records of more than 10,000 women, researchers have identified a disturbing correlation: Women in the study who had breast cancer tended to have a history of heavier antibiotic use than cancerfree women. Although this study raises the concern that taking microbe-killing drugs increases a woman's risk of breast cancer, the investigators stress that there may be more plausible explanations for the unexpected finding.

"People who are on antibiotics should remain on them if they have a bacterial infection," says Stephen H. Taplin of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. "This study is hot saying there's a causal relationship between antibiotics and breast cancer."

The research project originated a few years ago when Taplin was at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he was working with a graduate student, Christine M. Velicer. She was struck by the result of an epidemiological study indicating that Finnish women who had taken antibiotics for urinary tract infections seemed to have an increased risk of breast cancer. That study was limited, however, because it depended on each woman's memory of her antibiotic use, not on medical records.

Working with investigators at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the healthcare provider Group Health Cooperative, both in Seattle, Velicer began a doctoral-dissertation project in which she used nearly 2 decades of pharmacy records to compare the antibiotic use of 2,266 women with breast cancer to that of 7,953 randomly selected women.

The results, which earned Velicer her degree and a publication with her colleagues in the Feb. 18 Journal of the American Medical Association, were startling. Those women who took antibiotics for more than a total of 500 days had around twice the breast cancer risk of women who had taken no antibiotic, the researchers report. Even women who had taken antibiotics for just 1 to 100 days had a modest increase in breast cancer risk. "The risk goes up as the exposure [to antibiotics] goes up" says Taplin.

"Methodologically, it's a very good study, but it needs to be replicated," says Lynn Rosenberg of the Boston University School of Medicine.

In theory, antibiotic use could increase cancer risk by disrupting the natural ecosystem of microbes in the human gut, thereby altering a person's normal physiology. But the antibiotic-cancer correlation could arise without the drugs being to blame. Antibiotic use would also be linked with breast cancer if, for example, infections triggered inflammatory reactions that promoted tumors, says Randall E. Harris of Ohio State University in Columbus.

Or, says Velicer, some women may simply have weak immune systems that leave them susceptible to both breast cancer and infections that require antibiotics.

Velicer and her colleagues plan to investigate whether the use of such medicine is associated with an increased risk of other cancers, such as colorectal cancer.

"This whole issue needs a lot more attention," says Velicer. "It's still a big puzzle."

COPYRIGHT 2004 Science Service, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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