Inflammatory breast cancer is typically considered a locally-advanced breast cancer and is treated aggressively with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and/or HER2 targeted therapy as appropriate. The five-year survival rate is the percentage of people who survive at least five years after the cancer is found. Survival rates vary between 11% and 49% depending on the stage, tumor grade, certain features of the cancer, and the treatment a woman receives. It is important to note that new treatments are ahead of published statistics. Women diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer today may have much higher survival rates because doctors now have a better understanding of how to treat inflammatory breast cancer.
Inflammatory breast cancer progresses rapidly, often in a matter of weeks or months. At diagnosis, inflammatory breast cancer is either stage III or IV disease, depending on whether cancer cells have spread only to nearby lymph nodes or to other tissues as well.
Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare and very aggressive disease in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. This type of breast cancer is called “inflammatory” because the breast often looks swollen and red, or inflamed. Inflammatory breast cancer is rare, accounting for 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States. Most inflammatory breast cancers are invasive ductal carcinomas, which means they developed from cells that line the milk ducts of the breast and then spread beyond the ducts.