Risk factors for inflammatory breast cancer

Rachel L Atkinson, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background: Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is rare and accounts for 2.5% of all invasive breast cancers. The 5-year survival rates are significantly lower than for other types of breast cancer, highlighting the significance of cancer prevention in IBC. The comprehensive multi-disciplinary team Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Program and Clinic at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center treats the largest number of Inflammatory Breast patients in a single center. Because of this unique center, large patient resources, and good medical and epidemiological records, we were able to conduct the largest single center case-control and case-case study on IBC. Methods: We identified 246 patients diagnosed with IBC and 397 cancer free patients seen at the Dan L Duncan Cancer Prevention Clinic. Breast cancer reproductive risk factors and lifestyle risk factors were compared between tumor subtypes of IBC patients (Estrogen Receptor positive (ER+) and/or Progesterone Receptor positive (PR+), Human Epidermal Growth Factor 2 positive (HER2+)), and (ER -/PR-/HER2-)) and cancer free controls. Results: Breastfeeding was the only significant risk factor (p<0.01) between tumor subtypes in IBC patients. In the case-control study that included all IBC patients and cancer free patients the descriptive statistics indicate significant difference in BMI, history of smoking, number of children, age of first pregnancy, any breastfeeding and total time breastfeeding (p<0.05). No differences were found in the frequency of other breast cancer risk factors. Conclusion: The associations determined between cancer free controls and IBC patients have identified previously unknown risk factors for IBC. The risk factors identified by the case control study suggest BMI, history of smoking, and the protective effect of breastfeeding as potential modifiable risk factors that can be used to decrease the incidence of IBC. Impact: These results highlight the importance of evaluating epidemiologic risk factors of IBC, which could lead to the identification of distinct etiologic pathways that could be targeted for prevention.

Subject Area

Public health|Epidemiology|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Atkinson, Rachel L, "Risk factors for inflammatory breast cancer" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1541004.