When Prentiss McClendon’s newborn son vomited blood and turned blue, he instantly became the focus of attention and medical testing to determine what was wrong. But three test-filled weeks at the hospital found nothing amiss, the Prentiss’ baby was sent home.
During the hospital stay, however, Prentiss discovered blood – her own, doctors learned – in the breast milk she pumped for her newborn. Months later, when she learned she was pregnant again, her obstetrician noticed a small red spot on her left breast.
Overtime that small red spot grew and Prentiss’ breast became itchy, swollen and began to look dimpled. Despite various diagnoses including mastitis and treatments including antibiotics Prentiss’ problem persisted.
Ultimately, a nurse practitioner in her obstetrician’s office ordered an ultrasound and biopsies of the breast tissue.
The diagnosis: Prentiss had stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer, a rare but aggressive form of the disease.
Prentiss quickly began treatment with a three-drug chemotherapy regimen known to be safe for use in pregnant women. She later delivered a healthy baby girl and began a second chemotherapy regimen based on a genomic assessment of her cancer.
Her medical oncologist Massimo Cristofanilli, MD, director of the Jefferson Breast Care Center and renowned expert in inflammatory breast cancer, recently wrote up this medical mystery for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
He concluded with the happy news that that baby recently celebrated her sixth birthday and Prentiss’ “body scans came out clear of cancer.”