After chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy, doctors usually recommend additional treatments to reduce the risk of recurrence (cancer coming back). This may seem like a great deal of treatment, but reducing the risk of recurrence is important because inflammatory breast cancer is especially aggressive. Even if the cancer responds well to previous treatments, doctors want to do more to keep it from returning.
As with other types of breast cancer, treatment choices for inflammatory breast cancer depend on the characteristics of the cancer itself as well as your preferences and needs. One or more of the following treatments may be used:
- Additional chemotherapy: For more information about chemotherapy treatment and side effects, please visit the Chemotherapy section.
Hormonal therapy: If tests show that the breast cancer is hormone-receptor-positive, it means that the cancer cells’ growth is fueled by the hormones estrogen and/or progesterone. In this case, your doctor will recommend taking a hormonal therapy such as tamoxifen, an aromatase inhibitor, or Faslodex (chemical name: fulvestrant). These medications block or lower estrogen. Most inflammatory breast cancers are hormone-receptor-negative, however.
For more information about hormonal therapy and its side effects, please visit the Hormonal Therapy section.
Herceptin (chemical name: trastuzumab): If the cancer tests positive for HER2 receptors, your doctor may recommend taking Herceptin for one year. This is in addition to any Herceptin you received before surgery.
For more information about Herceptin treatment and side effects, please visit the Herceptin section.
Although great advances have been made in the treatment of inflammatory breast cancer, researchers are still working to figure out which treatment combinations are most effective. Therefore, you might want to talk to your doctor about participating in a clinical trial. A clinical trial is a research study in which people try a new treatment that appears to show promise. To learn more about clinical trials and what they involve, please visit the Clinical Trials section.