IBC Treatment and Prognosis (Survival)
According to the National Cancer Institute (2016), “Inflammatory breast cancer is generally treated first with systemic chemotherapy to help shrink the tumor, then with surgery to remove the tumor, followed by radiation therapy. This approach to treatment is called a multimodal approach. Studies have found that women with inflammatory breast cancer who are treated with a multimodal approach have better responses to therapy and longer survival. Treatments used in a multimodal approach may include those described below.
- Neoadjuvant chemotherapy: This type of chemotherapy is given before surgery and usually includes both anthracycline and taxane drugs. Doctors generally recommend that at least six cycles of neoadjuvant chemotherapy be given over the course of 4 to 6 months before the tumor is removed, unless the disease continues to progress during this time and doctors decide that surgery should not be delayed.
- Targeted therapy: Inflammatory breast cancers often produce greater than normal amounts of the HER2 protein, which means that drugs such as trastuzumab (Herceptin) that target this protein may be used to treat them. Anti-HER2 therapy can be given both as part of neoadjuvant therapy and after surgery (adjuvant therapy).
- Hormone therapy: If the cells of a woman’s inflammatory breast cancer contain hormone receptors, hormone therapy is another treatment option. Drugs such as tamoxifen, which prevent estrogen from binding to its receptor, and aromatase inhibitors such as letrozole, which block the body’s ability to make estrogen, can cause estrogen-dependent cancer cells to stop growing and die.
- Surgery: The standard surgery for inflammatory breast cancer is a modified radical mastectomy. This surgery involves removal of the entire affected breast and most or all of the lymph nodes under the adjacent arm. Often, the lining over the underlying chest muscles is also removed, but the chest muscles are preserved. Sometimes, however, the smaller chest muscle (pectoralis minor) may be removed, too.
- Radiation therapy: Post-mastectomy radiation therapy to the chest wall under the breast that was removed is a standard part of multimodal therapy for inflammatory breast cancer. If a woman received trastuzumab before surgery, she may continue to receive it during postoperative radiation therapy. Breast reconstruction can be performed in women with inflammatory breast cancer, but, due to the importance of radiation therapy in treating this disease, experts generally recommend delayed reconstruction.
- Adjuvant therapy: Adjuvant systemic therapy may be given after surgery to reduce the chance of cancer recurrence. This therapy may include additional chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy (such as trastuzumab), or some combination of these treatments.”*
*Citation: Inflammatory Breast Cancer was originally published by the National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from Web 19 January 2019. https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/ibc-fact-sheet#q4
More IBC treatment information
- American Cancer Society has an excellent section on “How is IBC treated?”
IBC Prognosis (Survival)
According to the National Cancer Institute (2016), “The prognosis, or likely outcome, for a patient diagnosed with cancer is often viewed as the chance that the cancer will be treated successfully and that the patient will recover completely. Many factors can influence a cancer patient’s prognosis, including the type and location of the cancer, the stage of the disease, the patient’s age and overall general health, and the extent to which the patient’s disease responds to treatment.
Because inflammatory breast cancer usually develops quickly and spreads aggressively to other parts of the body, women diagnosed with this disease, in general, do not survive as long as women diagnosed with other types of breast cancer.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that survival statistics are based on large numbers of patients and that an individual woman’s prognosis could be better or worse, depending on her tumor characteristics and medical history. Women who have inflammatory breast cancer are encouraged to talk with their doctor about their prognosis, given their particular situation.
Ongoing research, especially at the molecular level, will increase our understanding of how inflammatory breast cancer begins and progresses. This knowledge should enable the development of new treatments and more accurate prognoses for women diagnosed with this disease. It is important, therefore, that women who are diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer talk with their doctor about the option of participating in a clinical trial.”**
**Citation: Inflammatory Breast Cancer was originally published by the National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from Web 19 January 2019. https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/ibc-fact-sheet#q5
More IBC Prognosis (Survival) Information
The American Cancer Society (2016) has the information below regarding survival. We caution that the data is based (as noted below), on information from the 1990s to 2008 which does not take into account current treatments.
“Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is considered an aggressive cancer because it grows quickly, is more likely to have spread at the time it’s found, and is more likely to come back after treatment than other types of breast cancer. The outlook is generally not as good as it is for other types of breast cancer.
Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they cannot predict what will happen in any particular person’s case. Many other factors can affect a person’s outlook, such as age, general health, treatment received, and how well the cancer responds to treatment. Your doctor can tell you how the numbers below may apply to you, as he or she is familiar with your situation.
These survival rates are based on people diagnosed years ago. Improvements in treatment since then may result in a more favorable outlook for people now being diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer.
These numbers are based on data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, for patients who were diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer between 1990 and 2008.
Median survival is the length of time for half of the patients in a group to have died. By definition, half of the patients in that group are still alive. It is important to remember that the median is just a kind of average used by researchers. No one is “average” and many people have much better outcomes than the median. Also, people with inflammatory breast cancer can die of other things, and these numbers don’t take that into account.
- The median survival rate for people with stage III inflammatory breast cancer is about 57 months.
- The median survival rate for people with stage IV inflammatory breast cancer is about 21 months.”**
**Inflammatory Breast Cancer, American Cancer Society. Retrieved from Web 19 January 2019.