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Keywords:

  • inflammatory breast carcinoma;
  • radiation therapy;
  • multimodal therapy;
  • combination therapy;
  • prognostic factors

Abstract

Background. Inflammatory carcinoma of the breast has been associated with a poor prognosis. Several therapeutic approaches have been under investigation in an effort to improve outcome.

Methods. This is a retrospective analysis of 179 patients with histologically confirmed inflammatory carcinoma of the breast: 33 treated with irradiation alone, 35 with combined irradiation and chemotherapy, 25 with irradiation and surgery, and 86 with a combination of three modalities.

Results. The 5-year disease free survival (DFS) rates were 40% for patients treated with three modalities, 24% for those treated with irradiation and surgery, and 6% for those treated with irradiation alone or in combination with chemotherapy without a surgical procedure. The 10-year DFS rates were 35%, 24%, and 0%, respectively. Cause specific survival (CSS) curves closely follow the same trends. A clearly superior locoregional tumor control was observed in patients who underwent a surgical procedure: 79% with three modalities, 76% with irradiation and surgery, and only 30% with irradiation alone or in combination with chemotherapy. Distant metastasis occurred in 57% of the group treated with triple-modality therapy, 60% of those treated with irradiation plus surgery, and 85% of the patients treated with irradiation alone or in combination with chemotherapy. There was no significant correlation between the type of mastectomy or doses of irradiation and locoregional tumor control or survival. The significant morbidity of the trimodal therapy (10% ), although somewhat higher than that of other modalities (3.2% ), was acceptable.

Conclusions. The addition of mastectomy to irradiation significantly improved locoregional tumor control, DFS, and CSS; differences were statistically significant. The combination of chemotherapy, surgery, and irradiation had a significant impact on locoregional tumor control and incidence of distant metastases compared with surgery plus irradiation, and a lesser impact, although still statistically significant, on DFS and CSS. Further clinical trials are needed to optimize the management of patients with inflammatory breast cancer.