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July 2001

Postsurgical Dermal Lymphedema Clinically Mimicking Inflammatory Breast Carcinoma

Arch Dermatol. 2001;137(7):969-970. doi:

Lymphedema of the breast appears as cutaneous erythema and induration. It has been described following surgery for breast carcinoma and can clinically resemble inflammatory breast carcinoma. We here describe 2 women with lymphedema of the breast that occurred after biopsy of the breast and axilla for benign processes and that simulated inflammatory breast carcinoma.

A 64-year-old woman underwent a left breast biopsy for evaluation of a mammographically suggestive lesion that demonstrated fibrocystic changes on biopsy findings. Two weeks postoperatively, erythema, edema, and warmth developed surrounding the areola and were unresponsive to antibiotics and topical hydrocortisone treatment. Three months after the biopsy, the skin remained erythematous, indurated, and warm, with a "peau d'orange" appearance (Figure 1). A 1 × 0.5 × 0.5-cm incisional skin biopsy specimen was taken. For the 12 months after this biopsy there has been slow but discernible clinical improvement with no signs of underlying malignancy.

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