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Ann Oncol. 2000 Sep;11(9):1147-53.

Multimodality therapy in inflammatory breast cancer: is there a place for surgery?

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  • 1Breast Unit, Royal Marsden Hospital Trust and Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK.



In many centres surgery is used as part of a combined modality approach to the treatment of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). Nevertheless, its value is controversial given the high risk of metastatic relapse and poor overall prognosis. We have reviewed patients with true IBC prospectively treated at the Royal Marsden Hospital in chemotherapy trials to assess further the role of surgery as part of combined modality treatment.


Fifty-four patients who had responsive or stable disease to primary chemotherapy went on to have either radiotherapy alone (n = 35) or surgery plus radiotherapy (n = 19); the decision on surgery was based partly on clinician preference and partly on clinical response.


The 35 patients undergoing radiotherapy alone had a median progression-free survival (PFS) of 16 months and median overall survival (OS) of 35 months. Twenty-four patients (69%) have relapsed with a total of twelve (34%) relapsing locally. In comparison, the 19 patients receiving both surgery and radiotherapy had a PFS of 20 months, and a median OS of 35 months. Fifteen patients (79%) have relapsed, eight (42%) of these locally. None of these differences were statistically significant.


These results do not suggest a clinical advantage for surgery in addition to chemotherapy and radiotherapy for patients with IBC. They support the need for a prospective randomised trial to address this question.

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