Inflammatory breast cancer: the disease, the biology, the treatment

CA Cancer J Clin. Nov-Dec 2010;60(6):351-75. doi: 10.3322/caac.20082. Epub 2010 Oct 19.


Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare and aggressive form of invasive breast cancer accounting for 2.5% of all breast cancer cases. It is characterized by rapid progression, local and distant metastases, younger age of onset, and lower overall survival compared with other breast cancers. Historically, IBC is a lethal disease with less than a 5% survival rate beyond 5 years when treated with surgery or radiation therapy. Because of its rarity, IBC is often misdiagnosed as mastitis or generalized dermatitis. This review examines IBC's unique clinical presentation, pathology, epidemiology, imaging, and biology and details current multidisciplinary management of the disease, which comprises systemic therapy, surgery, and radiation therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Body Mass Index
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Inflammatory Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Inflammatory Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Inflammatory Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Inflammatory Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mammography
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Obesity / complications
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Prognosis
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Rare Diseases
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography, Mammary
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor