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IBC Information for Referring Physicians

  • The Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center offers highly specialized evaluation and care for patients with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer that is frequently difficult to detect and often presents at an advanced stage.

    To refer a patient for diagnosis and treatment for inflammatory breast cancer, call 877-332-4294.

    Multidisciplinary clinic

    Our medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists work together to treat patients with IBC, most often with chemotherapy followed by surgery and state-of-the-art radiation therapy. By employing a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach, patients are able to begin treatment quickly, which is essential given the aggressive nature of the disease. Our practice is to evaluate patients with newly diagnosed IBC within 3 business days.

    Patients also have access to multiple clinical trials, designed specifically to improve therapies for IBC. A range of trials is available, including studies for newly diagnosed patients, for patients who present with metastatic disease or local-regional disease recurrence, and for patients who did not achieve a complete pathologic response at mastectomy following initial chemotherapy.

    We offer patients opportunities to take part in clinical trials, investigating new, targeted therapies for IBC.

    Patients may also be eligible for other breast cancer clinical trials. We will discuss whether another breast cancer clinical trial may be right for your patient.

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    Clinical trials for metastatic breast cancer

    Indications for referral

    Unlike other forms of breast cancer, which can be identified by a mass, inflammatory breast cancer is more challenging to diagnose. It presents within the breast more diffusely, often without a well-defined mass. IBC presents with more lymphatic involvement within the breast which causes the breast to feel thick or heavy and makes diagnosis more difficult. Routine imaging, such as mammogram, is often unreliable.

    Patients who present with redness, swelling, pain, or itchiness of the breast or thickening of the skin on the breast, with ridging or dimpling, should be referred to a specialist for evaluation and a clinical examination and biopsy to confirm diagnosis.

    While IBC shares clinical similarities to mastitis, if a patient does not respond to antibiotic treatment for mastitis, a specialist should be consulted about inflammatory breast cancer. Specialists involved with our Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program are available to provide guidance and assistance with diagnosis.

    To contact an IBC specialist and/or to refer a patient for evaluation call 617-632-2311.