Breast cancer is generally contained within the breast and surrounding tissues, but some rare forms can be seen outside of the tissue in the form of breast cancer rashes. These might appear red and itchy, or as dry skin similar to eczema. It will depend on the type of cancer and the stage that it is in.
Not all cancers are as treatable as others, and some which form rashes tend to be more difficult to remove. Treatments include topical ointments, radiology, chemotherapy, and surgery. In extreme cases, a breast, or part of a breast may need to be removed to treat the cancer.
One of the more noticeable but rare forms of breast cancer rashes is called Paget's disease. This appears on and around the nipple in women who are fifty or older. It can be found in younger women, but this is even rarer than the disease itself. The rash which it leaves appears flaky, crusty, and can emit a discharge or ooze. Sometimes the skin thickens and forms a lump, and at other times it flattens and the nipples may begin to invert themselves due to the changes in the skin. It is very uncomfortable and should be treated as soon as possible.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)
IBC does not always appear in the form of breast cancer rashes, but is quite red and painful. It can cause the skin to become pitted and appear like an orange peel, or begin to form a red or purple bumpy rash.
This type of cancer is also rare, and very difficult to treat. Unlike the formation of other breast cancer cells, this one forms in almost a sheet, making the tissue hard to the touch, swollen, and agitated. It can be wrongfully diagnosed as mastitis, an infection of the milk duct, but has some distinct characteristics which set it apart.
Sometimes the breast cancer rashes you develop are not due to the cancer itself but the treatments being used. Sensitive skin, allergies, and aggressive treatments can cause red bumpy skin, itchy dry patches, and scaly skin to form where radiation therapy is used. Similarly, chemotherapy can alter the way that your skin looks and feels, and cause allergic reactions in the form of red itchy bumps. Hormonal therapy and pain medication used to treat symptoms can also cause this type of skin irritation.
Some cancer patients find that they must treat the negative side effects of their medications, as well as the cancer itself. If you have a reaction to a certain drug or treatment, your doctor may be able to change the treatment or dosage to find one that works better for your body, and causes less physical damage.
Unfortunately, not all rash-like symptoms can be treated until the cancer is eradicated, which means living with the uncomfortable skin disorder. In some ways they are positive as they offer a sign that your medication is working, or a signal that you need to go in and get checked by a doctor. Never ignore a rash on or around your breast.