Inflammatory Breast Cancer: Diagnostic, Molecular and Therapeutic Considerations

  • Grace X. Li
  • Justin W. Tiulim
  • Julie E. Lang
  • Irene KangEmail author
Hot Topics in Breast Cancer (K Hunt, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Hot Topics in Breast Cancer


Purpose of Review

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is an aggressive type of breast cancer with poor prognosis. Treatment for non-metastatic disease is neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by mastectomy and radiation. IBC diagnosis is primarily a clinical diagnosis, which can lead to misdiagnosis and delayed management. In addition, there are no molecular criteria for diagnosis or therapeutic regimens developed specifically for IBC. We aimed to discuss recent developments in IBC, including diagnosis, molecular mechanisms, and treatment.

Recent Findings

Recently, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) breast cancer staging system has defined the diagnostic features of IBC. Current molecular characterization of IBC has not revealed a unique signature or marker for diagnosis; however, this work sheds light on the pathophysiology of IBC and provides potential therapeutic targets.


The prognosis of IBC remains poor, although the survival is improved significantly with trimodal management. To date, a consensus on diagnosis and prospective trials specifically designed for IBC therapy are lacking. Standardized criteria incorporating clinical, pathologic, and molecular criteria remains an unmet need. Recent consensus recommendations regarding diagnosis and management are reviewed with a view towards evolving molecular characterization, potential targets, and current clinical trials.


Inflammatory breast cancer Neoadjuvant therapy Modified radical mastectomy Radiation therapy Targeted therapy 


Funding Information

The project described was supported in part by award number P30CA014089 from the National Cancer Institute.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Irene Kang reports personal fees from Puma Biotechnology and from Pfizer outside the submitted work. Julie Lang reports grants from ANGLE Parsortix and personal fees from Genomic Health outside the submitted work. Grace Li and Justin Tiulim declare no conflicts of interest relevant to this manuscript.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Cancer Institute or the National Institutes of Health.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Grace X. Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Justin W. Tiulim
    • 1
    • 2
  • Julie E. Lang
    • 2
    • 3
  • Irene Kang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Medicine, Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Norris Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Surgery, Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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