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Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) Treatment

It’s essential to establish a comprehensive and personalized treatment plan for inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) as early as possible. For this reason, MD Anderson’s team approach, which brings together experts from many specialties, is extremely important.

As a patient in the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Clinic, you are the focus of some of the most talented and experienced physicians in the world. They communicate and collaborate often about your treatment.

And MD Anderson is leading the way toward newer and more effective treatments for IBC. Targeted therapies, one of the most exciting possibilities on the horizon, offer new hope for some patients. Many of the newest, most successful treatments, including targeted therapies, were or are being developed at MD Anderson.

Our Inflammatory Breast Cancer Treatments

If you are diagnosed with IBC, your doctor will discuss the best options to treat it. This depends on several factors. Your treatment for inflammatory breast cancer will be customized to your needs. One or more of the following therapies may be recommended to treat the cancer or help relieve symptoms.


The goal of chemotherapy is to eliminate or reduce IBC before surgery. Using chemotherapy before surgery is call neoadjuvant or primary chemotherapy. MD Anderson offers the most up-to-date and effective chemotherapy options. Women with IBC usually receive a combination of at least two drugs. Chemotherapy should be started as soon as possible to prevent the spread of the disease.


Because inflammatory breast cancer usually does not have a distinctive lump, surgery to remove just the cancerous tissue (lumpectomy) is not possible. A complete mastectomy (removal of the entire breast) usually is needed to remove all the affected areas.

The surgeon looks at lymph nodes close to the breast during surgery, and nearby lymph nodes are removed in most cases. Breast reconstruction usually is not recommended initially after surgery for IBC. It is best to wait until therapy has been completed and there is no evidence of disease.

Like all surgeries, breast cancer surgery is most successful when performed by a specialist with a great deal of experience in the particular procedure. MD Anderson’s breast surgeons are among the most skilled and renowned in the world. They perform a large number of surgeries for inflammatory breast cancer each year, using the most-advanced techniques.

Radiation Therapy

After chemotherapy and surgery, radiation therapy may be performed on the chest wall and lymph nodes. Radiation helps control disease and reduce the risk of it coming back. It also may be used to treat IBC that has spread, to manage pain or to help you feel better if you cannot have surgery.

New radiation therapy techniques and remarkable skill allow MD Anderson doctors to target tumors more precisely, delivering the maximum amount of radiation with the least damage to healthy cells.

Targeted Therapies

Targeted therapies use the cancer’s specific genetic or biological makeup to help the body attack the disease. MD Anderson is among a select group of cancer centers in the nation that offer targeted therapies for inflammatory breast cancer.

Hormone Therapy

If IBC is hormone-receptor positive (estrogen receptor [ER] or progesterone receptor [PR]), you may need hormone therapy. These oral medicines stop the body from making or activating estrogen and progesterone. Doctors choose the best type of hormone therapy depending on your menopause status.

Stem Cell Transplant

For some patients with inflammatory breast cancer, a stem cell transplant may be an option after initial therapy or if the disease spreads, with the goal to reduce the chance of the cancer returning. MD Anderson’s stem cell transplant program is one of the most active and advanced in the nation.

Treatment at MD Anderson

Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) is treated in a special IBC Clinic at our Nellie B. Connally Breast Center.

Clinical Trials

MD Anderson patients have access to clinical trials offering promising new treatments that cannot be found anywhere else.

Knowledge Center

Find the latest news and information about inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) in our Knowledge Center, including blog posts, articles, videos, news releases and more.


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Prevention and Screening

Many cancers can be prevented with lifestyle changes and regular screening.