Inflammatory Breast Cancer: Is There a Role for Deescalation of Surgery?

Ann Surg Oncol. 2022 Oct;29(10):6106-6113. doi: 10.1245/s10434-022-12138-3. Epub 2022 Jul 15.


Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare and aggressive presentation of breast cancer, characterized by higher propensity for locoregional recurrence and distant metastasis compared with non-IBC. Because of extensive parenchymal and overlying dermal lymphatic involvement by carcinoma, IBC is unresectable at diagnosis. Trimodality therapy (neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by modified radical mastectomy and adjuvant comprehensive chest wall and regional nodal radiotherapy) has been a well-accepted treatment algorithm for IBC. Over the last few decades, several innovations in systemic therapy have resulted in rising rates of pathologic complete response (pCR) in both the affected breast and the axilla. The latter may present an opportunity for deescalation of lymph node surgery in patients with IBC, as those with an axillary pCR may be able to avoid an axillary dissection. To this end, feasibility data are necessary to address this question. There are very limited data on the safety of breast conservation of IBC; therefore, mastectomy remains the standard of care for this disease. There are also no data addressing the safety of immediate reconstruction in patients with IBC. Considering that some degree of deliberate skin-sparing to facilitate immediate breast reconstruction would be expected, given the extensive skin involvement by disease at diagnosis, the safest oncologic strategy to breast reconstruction in IBC would be the delayed approach.

MeSH terms

  • Axilla / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Inflammatory Breast Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Mastectomy
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy / methods
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology