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Inflammatory Breast Cancer - Topic Overview

How is it treated?

It's very important to treat this cancer as soon as possible. And more than one type of treatment may be needed. Treatment starts with anticancer drugs, called chemotherapy. These drugs help shrink the cancer.

Some tests will be done to help find which medicines will work best for you. These tests look at cancer cells from your biopsy to find out what kind of cancer you have. These tests include:

  • Estrogen and progesterone receptor status. The hormones estrogen and progesterone stimulate the growth of normal breast cells, as well as some breast cancers. Hormone receptor status is an important piece of information that will help you and your doctor plan treatment.
  • HER-2 receptor status. HER-2/neu is a protein that regulates the growth of some breast cancer cells. About one-third of women with breast cancer have too much (overexpression) of this growth-promoting protein.

Chemotherapy is usually followed by surgery (mastectomy). During surgery, some of the lymph nodes camera.gif are removed. Afterwards, most women have radiation therapy.

More chemotherapy or hormone therapy (or both) may be used after radiation, especially if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.

Women who test positive for HER-2 may be treated with trastuzumab (Herceptin) during chemotherapy and afterwards.

Talk with your doctor about taking part in a clinical trial. Many women who have inflammatory breast cancer are good candidates for clinical trials, which study new treatments for IBC and better ways to use current treatments.

How do you cope with having inflammatory breast cancer?

Inflammatory breast cancer is a very serious disease. But there is reason for hope, because treatment is improving. These days, many women are still free of cancer, some even 15 years and longer.

Talking with others who have breast cancer can help. To find a support group, contact your local branch of the American Cancer Society.

You may want to talk with your doctor about whether you are a good candidate for genetic testing for breast cancer. This can help other members of your family to understand more about their risk of breast cancer.

Additional information about inflammatory breast cancer is provided by the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/IBC.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 24, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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