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Rare Breast Cancer More Deadly

IBC more likely to strike at younger age, show different symptoms, study finds

THURSDAY, July 7, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Women diagnosed with a relatively rare and aggressive type of breast cancer tend to be younger, have larger tumors and a lower survival rate, according to a study in the July 6 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is characterized by redness, warmth and swelling, often without an underlying palpable mass in the breast. It's estimated to account for between less than 1 percent and 10 percent of all breast cancer cases. The wide range is due to variations in case definitions of IBC.

In this National Cancer Institute study, researchers analyzed data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program on more than 180,000 breast cancer cases. The researchers estimated that IBC comprised about 2 percent of all of these cases.

The study found the average age for diagnosis with IBC was just under 59 years. That's about three to seven years younger than the average age of women diagnosed with other forms of breast cancer. IBC patients had a median survival of 2.9 years, compared with 6.4 to 10 years for women with other types of breast cancer. Black women with IBC had a lower survival rate than white women with IBC.

IBC tumors also tended to be larger than tumors in other forms of breast cancer, the researchers added.

IBC cases seem to be on the increase, the study group found. Between 1988 and 1999, the IBC incidence rate increased from two cases per 100,000 women to 2.5 per 100,000. Over the same period, the incidence of more common forms of breast cancer decreased, from 108 cases per 100,000 women to 101 per 100,000.

Changing patterns of risk factor exposure and heightened clinical awareness are possible explanations for the increase in reported IBC cases, the study authors said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about inflammatory breast cancer.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, July 5, 2005
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