Breast Cancer Symptoms

What does it mean if I suddenly notice redness on my breasts?

A Answers (2)

  • ABrian P. McKinley, MD, Oncology, answered on behalf of Greenville Health System

    Redness on the breasts can be cause by many things. Infections, skin problems, and tumors of the breast can cause redness. Most color changes that can be seen on the surface of the breast will turn out to be caused by benign conditions, like infections or skin diseases. It is critically important, though, that you report any new breast symptom to your doctor so a thorough evaluation of the problem can be performed. And don't delay.

  • APatrick Maguire, MD, Oncology, answered
    There are several reasons why a person can develop acute (fairly sudden onset of) breast redness. Infection and inflammation are the two most common causes. Both of these conditions need to be treated in a timely fashion in order to improve health & minimize pain. They usually resolve over a week or two. However, there is one cause of breast redness that is always life-threatening: inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).

    IBC is a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer. Among every 100 patients diagnosed with breast cancer, about 2 – 5 will have IBC. It’s more commonly diagnosed in younger women, and the redness can come on literally over a few days. While most people who develop a red breast will NOT have IBC, both patients and their primary doctors need to be aware of the possibility. This diagnosis should be particularly suspected in patients who still have a red breast after treatment with antibiotics or anti-inflammatories for a presumed infection or inflammation. The classic description of the appearance of IBC is peau d’orange (orange peel) skin.
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