What is locally advanced breast cancer?

Locally advanced breast cancer is invasive breast cancer that has one or more of the following features:

  • may be large (typically bigger than 5 cm)
  • may have spread to several lymph nodes in the armpit (axilla) or other areas near the breast 
  • may have spread to other tissues around the breast such as the skin, muscle or ribs.

However, there are no signs that the cancer has spread beyond the breast region or to other parts of the body.

How common is locally advanced breast cancer?

About 10–20% of the 13,000 cases of breast cancer diagnosed in Australia each year are locally advanced breast cancer.

What are the signs of locally advanced breast cancer?

Signs of locally advanced breast cancer may include:

  • skin that’s thickened and looks dimpled like an orange peel
  • ulcers on the skin of the breast
  • a lump in the breast that doesn’t move freely but feels attached to the chest wall
  • a large red, swollen breast (this is called inflammatory breast cancer)
  • a lump in the armpit that’s large and may not move freely away from the chest wall
  • a lump at the base of the neck.

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