Skip to main content

Incidence and survival of inflammatory breast cancer between 1973 and 2015 in the SEER database



Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is an aggressive variant characterized by erythema, edema, and “peau d’orange” of the skin progressing within 6 months. We assessed the incidence and survival of IBC in the US over four decades.


Using SEER*Stat, a case list of IBC patients diagnosed between 1973 and 2015 (n = 29,718) was extracted from SEER 18 registries by using a combination of morphology, stage, and extent of disease criteria. M1 and M0 patients were included. Age-adjusted incidence rates, relative survival rates, and mean survival time were calculated. Significance was determined as non-overlapping 95% confidence intervals.


The overall incidence of IBC from 1973 to 2015 is 2.76 (2.73, 2.79) cases per 100,000 people, with white patients having an incidence rate of 2.63 (2.60, 2.67), black patients 4.52 (4.39, 4.65), and patients of other race 1.84 (1.76, 1.93). The overall IBC relative 5-year survival rate is 40.5% (39.0%, 42.0%), 42.5% (40.7%, 44.3%), and 29.9% (26.6%, 33.3%) for white patients and black patients, respectively. Patients diagnosed in 1978–1982 have a mean survival time of 62.3 (52.0, 72.6) months, while those diagnosed in 2008–2012 have mean survival time of 99.4 (96.4, 102.4) months. There is no significant difference in survival time between T4D patients and patients with other T staging and extent of disease coding consistent with clinical IBC presentation.


IBC survival has increased over four decades. Despite the improvement in survival for all racial groups, a persistent survival disparity that has not narrowed over two decades remains between white and black patients.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


  1. 1.

    van Uden DJP, van Laarhoven HWM, Westenberg AH, de Wilt JHW, Blanken-Peeters CFJM (2015) Inflammatory breast cancer: an overview. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Chang S, Parker SL, Pham T, Buzdar AU, Hursting SD (1998) Inflammatory breast carcinoma incidence and survival: the surveillance, epidemiology, and end results program of the National Cancer Institute, 1975–1992. Cancer 82(12):2366–2372

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Hance KW, Anderson WF, Devesa SS, Young HA, Levine PH (2005) Trends in inflammatory breast carcinoma incidence and survival: the surveillance, epidemiology, and end results program at the National Cancer Institute. J Natl Cancer Inst.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Schlichting JA, Soliman AS, Schairer C, Schottenfeld D, Merajver SD (2012) Inflammatory and non-inflammatory breast cancer survival by socioeconomic position in the surveillance, epidemiology, and end results database, 1990–2008. Breast Cancer Res Treat.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Schinkel JK et al (2014) Racial/ethnic differences in breast cancer survival by inflammatory status and hormonal receptor status: an analysis of the surveillance, epidemiology, and end results data. Cancer Causes Control.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Li J et al (2017) Outcomes of patients with inflammatory breast cancer by hormone receptor- and HER2-defined molecular subtypes: a population-based study from the SEER program. Oncotarget.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Goldner B, Behrendt CE, Schoellhammer HF, Lee B, Chen SL (2014) Incidence of inflammatory breast cancer in women, 1992–2009, United States. Ann Surg Oncol.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    D Il’yasova, S Siamakpour-Reihani, I Akushevich, L Akushevich, N Spector J Schildkraut, (2011) What can we learn from the age- and race/ethnicity- specific rates of inflammatory breast carcinoma? Breast Cancer Res Treat.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Levine PH, Steinhorn SC, Ries LG, Aron JL (1985) Inflammatory breast cancer: the experience of the surveillance, epidemiology, and end results (SEER) program. J Natl Cancer Inst 74:291–297

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Dawood S et al (2011) International expert panel on inflammatory breast cancer: Consensus statement for standardized diagnosis and treatment. Ann Oncol.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Tiwari RC, Clegg LX, Zou Z (2006) Efficient interval estimation for age-adjusted cancer rates. Stat Methods Med Res.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Aurit SJ, Devesa SS, Soliman AS, Schairer C (2019) Inflammatory and other breast cancer incidence rate trends by estrogen receptor status in the surveillance, epidemiology, and end results database (2001–2015). Breast Cancer Res Treat.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Kaye DH, D. a Freedman, (2011) Reference guide on statistics. In: Kaye DH, Freedman DA (eds) Reference manual on science evidence, 3rd edn. The National Academies Press, Washington D.C, p 211

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Ederer F, Heise H (1959) Instructions to IBM 650 programmers in processing survival computations. Methodological note No.10. End results evaluation section. Bethesda, MD

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    M. Greenwood (1926) A report on the natural duration of cancer. Reports on public health and medical subjects. Ministry of Health, London H M S O.

  16. 16.

    Brenner H, Gefeller O (1996) An alternative approach to monitoring cancer patient survival. Cancer 78:2004–2010

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Efron B (1979) Bootstrap methods another look at the Jackknife. In: Kotz S, Johnson NL (eds) Breakthroughs in statistics. Series in statistics (Perspectives in statistics). Springer, New York, pp 569–593

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Hirko KA et al (2014) A comparison of criteria to identify inflammatory breast cancer cases from medical records and the surveillance, epidemiology and end results data base, 2007–2009. Breast J.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Levine PH et al (2010) What is inflammatory breast cancer? revisiting the case definition. Cancers (Basel).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Noone A et al (2017) SEER cancer statistics review, 1975–2015. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    DeSantis C, Miller K, Sauer AG, Jemal A, Siegel R (2019) Cancer statistics for African Americans, 2019. CA Cancer J Clin 69(3):211–233

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    DeSantis CE, Fedewa SA, Goding Sauer A, Kramer JL, Smith RA, Jemal A (2016) Breast cancer statistics, 2015: convergence of incidence rates between black and white women. CA Cancer J Clin 66(1):31–42

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was supported in part by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to SDM; and the Rogel Cancer Center Core Grant (P30CA046592).

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sofia Diana Merajver.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

Dr. Merajver is a founder and Chief Scientific Officer of InheRET, Inc. The work she performs for InheRET is unrelated to this manuscript. The authors have no other conflicts of interest to disclose.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (Doc 564 KB)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Abraham, H.G., Xia, Y., Mukherjee, B. et al. Incidence and survival of inflammatory breast cancer between 1973 and 2015 in the SEER database. Breast Cancer Res Treat 185, 229–238 (2021).

Download citation


  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Survival
  • Incidence
  • Disparities