The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Program and Clinic is a unique model of multi‐disciplinary care and research focused on understanding, preventing and treating inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).
While IBC is considered rare, attributing to only 2‐5% of all breast cancers, its aggressive nature makes it the deadliest. In fact, death from IBC is disproportionate when compared to all breast cancers, resulting in up to 10% of all breast cancer deaths. While the nationally quoted five-year survival rate for IBC is about 40%, advances in care are helping more patients live longer. Recent studies have shown that with the right treatment, the five-year survival rate is closer to 70% for stage III patients, and 50% to 55% for stage IV patients. Our multi-disciplinary program is focused on developing tools for diagnosis, identifying therapeutic approaches specifically for treatment of IBC, understanding and preventing metastases, enhancing imaging approaches to assist in detecting the disease and evaluating the eﬀectiveness of treatment for IBC patients. Our ultimate goal is to improve survival of IBC patients.
Spearheaded by Massimo Cristofanilli, MD, the program's dedication to improving overall survival of women with IBC became a magnet for IBC survivors and advocates from Texas, Washington state, and New Mexico who joined forces to advocate for resources to fight this aggressive form of breast cancer. In 2007, the Texas Legislature created the $4 million "State of Texas Rare and Aggressive Breast Cancer Research Program" at MD Anderson. Concurrently, the New Mexico Legislature approved $3.2 million for the University of New Mexico (UNM) Cancer Center's IBC research.
These two efforts came together in January 2008, when MD Anderson and the UNM Cancer Research & Treatment Center forged a bilateral research agreement, providing new hope for IBC patients worldwide.
Today, Naoto Ueno, MD, PhD, leads the effort as Executive Director with Wendy Woodward, MD, PhD as Deputy Director, Vicente Valero, MD, as Director of Clinical Research and Executive Committee Member, James Reuben, PhD.
The IBC Multi-Team Clinic launched in August 2015, is the first multi-disciplinary clinic in the United States that focuses on patients who are newly diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, and are evaluated by our highly specialized multi-disciplinary physicians in just one appointment and one place. Patients meet their medical, surgical and radiation oncologists, and receive a personalized treatment plan, all in one day.
On top of leading the development of IBC standard of care, the clinic now has the most IBC-specific clinical trials of any center in the world. These innovative, investigator-initiated protocols provide hope to both our current patients and future patients who will benefit from what is learned.