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Ann Surg Oncol. 1995 Jul;2(4):288-94.

Therapy for inflammatory breast cancer: impact of doxorubicin-based therapy.

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Department of Surgical Oncology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York 14263, USA.



Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) carries an ominous prognosis. Before 1988, women with IBC at our institution were treated with neoadjuvant cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and 5-fluorouracil (CMF) with or without vincristine and prednisone (CMF/VP). After 1988, women with IBC were treated with cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and 5-fluorouracil (FAC). This study compares these two regimens with regard to response and survival.


The records of all women presenting between January 1973 and December 1991 with a stage IIIB (T4d, any N, MO) breast cancer with proven dermal lymphatic invasion by tumor cells were reviewed retrospectively.


The study comprised 38 women; 28 received CMF (22 CMF, 6 CMF/VP), and 10 received FAC. The overall response rate to induction chemotherapy in the CMF/VP group was 57% (40% PR, 17% CR), and 100% (60% PR, 40% CR) in the FAC group. The median overall survival for women receiving CMF/VP was 18 months compared with 30 months for women receiving FAC (p = 0.02). The median disease-free survivals for the CMF/VP and FAC groups were 6 and 24 months, respectively (p < 0.001). When comparing responders and nonresponders with CMF/VP induction therapy, the responders had a significantly longer overall median survival (24 versus 10 months) (p < 0.001) and disease-free median survival (8 versus 2 months) (p < 0.001). All of the five patients remaining alive received FAC with 80% (four of five) having a complete response. These four patients subsequently underwent mastectomy and radiation.


This study suggests that a doxorubicin-containing chemotherapy regimen improves overall and disease-free median survivals when compared with the previously used CMF combination in the treatment of IBC. A favorable response to induction chemotherapy also appeared to be associated with an improved survival.

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