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Cutaneous breast cancer
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Cutaneous breast cancer

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Contributors: Tara Mahar MD, Belinda Tan MD, PhD, Art Papier MD
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Synopsis

Both inflammatory breast cancer and cutaneous metastases from breast cancer may mimic cellulitis or mastitis clinically.

Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare but aggressive form of breast cancer that tends to occur in younger women. Tumor cells block lymphatic vessels resulting in a breast that appears swollen and erythematous. The patient may complain of heaviness, tenderness, nipple retraction, arm edema, pruritus, or breast enlargement. It may be slightly more common in black women.

Carcinoma erysipeloides resembles erysipelas or cellulitis and is caused by the occlusion of superficial lymphatics by metastatic tumor cells. The most common form of cancer to cause carcinoma erysipeloides is breast, and the most common site of involvement is the anterior chest wall. It has been associated with tumors of the pancreas, stomach, lung, rectum, ovary and parotid glands, however. The clinical appearance is similar to that of inflammatory breast cancer. The appearance of carcinoma erysipeloides portends a poor prognosis.

There is a rare case of breast cancer presenting as a brown macule on the areola.

Breast cancer is associated with a higher rate of cardiac metastases than most cancers. Radiation therapy for breast cancer can sometimes be associated with cardiac sarcomas.

Differentiating breast cancer from cellulitis is crucial. Nipple retraction or discharge and skin dimpling are ominous signs. Asymmetry can be marked. Carcinoma may appear more ecchymotic than cellulitis.

Related topic: Breast cancer, Male breast cancer

Codes

ICD10CM:
C50.919 – Malignant neoplasm of unspecified site of unspecified female breast

SNOMEDCT:
254838004 – Carcinoma of breast

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Diagnostic Pearls

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

Best Tests

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Management Pearls

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Therapy

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Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

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References

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Last Updated: 04/23/2019
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Cutaneous breast cancer
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Cutaneous breast cancer : Erythema, Peau d'orange, Skin warm to touch, Breast mass, Inverted nipple
Clinical image of Cutaneous breast cancer
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