Itching a Sign of Breast Cancer?

Last Modified: March 12, 2006

Question:

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

I have read that itching of the breast may be a symptom of breast

cancer. Is this a myth or is it true?

Answer:

Angela DeMichele, M.D., MSCE, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania and Senior Scholar in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, responds:

Itching can be a symptom of breast cancer, but it is a very uncommon one. It can occur with a relatively uncommon type of breast cancer called "inflammatory breast cancer", in which the breast becomes significantly swollen, red, warm and sometimes - itchy. These symptoms are often very rapid in onset. Much more commonly, though, breast itching is a symptom of a benign (non-cancerous) skin condition, such as eczema or contact dermatitis. Breast itching should be checked by a physician, to make sure that none of the other signs of inflammatory breast cancer are present, and may require consultation with a dermatologist to treat an underlying skin condition.


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