Breast cancer does not always present with a lump. A swollen red breast, often with an inverted nipple and no lump, is the classic appearance of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), the most aggressive type of breast cancer.
MD Anderson is a leader in IBC treatment. Since 2006, MD Anderson has cared for these patients in the Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Clinic, dedicated exclusively to women with IBC.
The IBC clinic accepts newly diagnosed and previously treated IBC patients. The first appointment for IBC new patients is typically scheduled on a Wednesday. During this visit, the patients meets her medical oncologist, radiation oncologist and surgeon in just one appointment and at one location.
On that same day, this care team meets to formulate a personalized, multidisciplinary treatment strategy for each case. Patients end the appointment with a comprehensive, customized treatment plan, and the knowledged that the best physicians are caring for them every step of the way.
Clinic patients will also have access to clinical trials that offer novel therapies to treat this rare disease.
IBC Research Program
The Inflammatory Breast Cancer Clinic is part of an integrated, state-funded IBC research program that includes the basic, translational and clinical research. This research provides the scientific basis for the world-class treatment provided in the clinic.
Our international tissue registry includes tumor samples from all over the world, and represents a crucial resource to help understand and potentially lead to a cure for inflammatory breast cancer.
Inflammatory breast cancer clinical trials
Q: How do I know if I am eligible for a clinical trial?
A: We have trials for all subtypes of IBC, as well as for newly diagnosed and metastatic/recurrent IBC. If you are a current MD Anderson patient, ask your MD Anderson physician if any of these trials are right for you.
If you are not an MD Anderson patient but have a question about our clinical trials, email us for more information. You should also ask your current oncologist about any clinical trials you may be eligible for. Non-MD Anderson patients interested in joining one of our trials must be evaluated by MD Anderson physicians to determine if they qualify.
Q: Do I have to move to Houston to be in a clinical trial?
A: No, not necessarily. Many of our patients come from out of state and travel back and forth during the trial. All of our clinical trial treatments are given in the outpatient setting. Some drugs being tested are pills that you can take at home.
In some cases, patients receiving standard of care chemotherapy during the trial can receive that treatment in their own area. These patients must find a local oncologist who agrees to administer the drug.
Clinical trial drugs that are given through an IV, though, must be administered at MD Anderson. This is a standard agreement with trial sponsors. By following such strict procedures we protect the integrity of the clinical trial.
Our social workers can help trial participants find resources to support their trips to Houston. These can include travel vouchers and need-based hotel vouchers. If you are already a patient at MD Anderson and have not met with your social worker, ask your clinic team for a referral or email us. Even if you don’t have an upcoming visit to MD Anderson, you can send your social worker a message in MyChart to learn about resources available to you.
Q: Who pays for the clinical trial?
A: The study sponsor, typically a pharmaceutical company, provides the study drugs being tested. There is no charge for these drugs.
The patient’s insurance company will be billed for portions of the trial that are standard of care, such as hormonal therapy and common chemotherapies. Patients are responsible for any standard co-pays and deductibles.
Once you are accepted into a clinical trial and you agree to participate, we then obtain your insurance company’s clearance. This allows us to bill your insurance for treatments necessary for your care, such as doctor visits, lab testing and scans.
Q: What’s are the different phases of a clinical trial?
A: Prior to testing in humans, drugs are testing in a laboratory. These includes tests on cultured cells and in animals. These studies establish the scientific rationale for moving on to a clinical trial.
Once a drug is ready for a clinical trial, there are generally three phases of testing in humans before it can earn FDA approval. Learn more about the different phases of clinical trials.
Q: How will I know I am getting the real drug?
A: Your study coordinator/research nurse will tell you the details of your clinical trial. For studies that compare a new treatment to an existing one, some trial participants receive a current, more “standard” treatment. These patient are known as the control group. Some control groups may also receive a placebo in addition to a standard treatment to help discover how the new drug impacts patient outcomes. In cancer care, placebos are almost never given alone.
Q: Should I join a clinical trial when I have standard treatment options or wait until all the other options have failed?
A: Treatment choices must be made strategically. We recommend asking about clinical trials throughout your care, since treatment decisions can impact your eligibility for some clinical trials. For instance, some trials are limited to newly diagnosed IBC patients who haven’t received any treatment. In other cases, worsening health can disqualify a patient from a trial.
Your oncologist can talk with you about the pros and cons of available trials. When discussing a trial, you should ask about your likely responses to standard treatments and other factors influencing your prognosis.
IBC Treatment Team
The IBC team includes physicians from every specialty to provide expert guidance in all aspects of inflammatory breast cancer treatment, including pathology, imaging, chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy and survivorship.
- Therese B Bevers, M.D. F.A.A.F.P.
- Edward I-Fei Chang, M.D. F.A.C.S.
- Sarah DeSnyder, M.D.
- Yun Gong, M.D.
- Lei Huo, M.D., Ph.D.
- Savitri Krishnamurthy, M.D.
- Rachel Layman, M.D.
- Huong Le-Petross, M.D.
- Anthony Lucci, M.D.
- Azadeh Nasrazadani, M.D., Ph.D.
- Sadia Saleem, M.D.
- Mark V. Schaverien, M.B., Ch.B., M.D. M.Sc., M.Ed., F.R.C.S. (Plast)
- Michael C. Stauder, M.D.
- Susie X. Sun, M.D., M.S.
- Mediget Teshome, M.D. MPH
- Vicente Valero, M.D., FACP
- Wei Yang, M.B.B.S., FRCR
- Wendy Woodward, M.D., Ph.D.
Contact the IBC Clinic
Morgan Welch IBC Clinic Information
Location: Mays Clinic Building, 5th floor | Get Directions
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Email: For any general questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. While we cannot provide medical advice over email, if you need assistance with obtaining an appointment or other concerns not specific to an existing medical provider, we are happy to help.