Inflammatory Breast Cancer and Breast Reconstruction
By: Courtney Floyd
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare and aggressive disease where cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast, often causing the breast to appear red and swollen - it is often confused with an infection because of this. IBC accounts for about 5% of all breast cancers diagnosed and often develops quickly.
Since IBC is so aggressive, treatment should begin as soon as possible and typically includes chemotherapy, mastectomy, and radiation. Immediate breast reconstruction is not recommended. It is crucial to ensure all the affected tissue has been removed and then disease has been treated completely prior to starting the reconstructive process.
Once treatment is completed, breast reconstruction can be considered. In some cases, a true "breast" reconstruction is not possible due to the extent of the IBC and the amount of tissue removed to treat the disease.
For patients interested in reconstruction following radiation therapy, we recommend tissue ("flap") procedures such as the DIEP, TUG, or GAP. These options allow the surgeon to remove any damaged radiated tissue and replace it with healthy skin and tissue from another area of the body.
We do not recommend implant-based reconstruction for IBC patients who have had radiation treatment due to the increase risk of complications such as infection, wound healing, capsular contracture, pain, implant exposure, unsatisfactory aesthetic results, and failure of the reconstruction.
Have questions about IBC and breast reconstruction? Please let us know in the comments below.