Radiation Therapy for Inflammatory Breast Cancer

For treating inflammatory breast cancer, radiation therapy may be recommended as part of a multimodal approach, and is usually performed after surgery. In most cases, treatment begins with an initial course of chemotherapy, mainly because this aggressive type of breast cancer tends to be diagnosed in advanced stages, after the cancerous cells have spread beyond an affected breast to the chest wall or lymph nodes in the underarm area. Therefore, because inflammatory breast cancer cells are typically not confined to a single breast tumor, and instead are spread across several areas, systemic chemotherapy is often used to target and destroy as many rapidly dividing cancer cells as possible prior to surgery. When surgery is performed in conjunction with pre-surgery chemo and post-surgery radiation therapy, the likelihood of a successful outcome can be significantly improved.

Even when a patient is a good candidate for a surgical procedure, such as a mastectomy, follow-up radiation treatment is usually necessary because it is not always possible for a surgeon to identify and remove all of the cancer during surgery. By delivering high-energy rays at or near a surgical site, radiation therapy can target and destroy residual cancerous cells to help prevent the spread of cancer and recurrence.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we offer several forms of radiation therapy for inflammatory breast cancer, including:

  • External beam radiation – Over the course of approximately six weeks, a patient receives treatment via a machine called a linear accelerator, which a skilled radiation oncologist uses to direct radiation therapy to the precise areas where a mastectomy was performed or cancerous lymph nodes were detected.

  • Brachytherapy – Small radioactive seeds or pellets are temporarily placed internally, at or near a cancer site.

  • Deep inspiration breath hold – This advanced technique adjusts the delivery of external beam radiation to account for the natural movement of the chest as a patient breathes. This may be recommended for targeting cancerous cells on the left side of a patient’s chest in order to help shield the patient’s heart from the effects of radiation therapy.

Moffitt’s nationally renowned researchers and clinicians have made great strides in refining the delivery of radiation treatment to ensure pinpoint accuracy, and our team is continually evaluating new and better ways to treat inflammatory breast cancer. Moffitt has become well known for offering its patients access to the very latest treatment techniques and equipment; however, the factor that truly differentiates us is our people. Each radiation oncologist in the Don & Erika Wallace Comprehensive Breast Program at Moffitt is both highly experienced and technically proficient, and we have the expertise necessary to help our patients complete their treatments with minimal discomfort and the fewest number of sessions possible. As a result, our breast cancer survival rates consistently outrank the national average, and our patients have better-quality lives.

If you’d like to learn more about radiation therapy for inflammatory breast cancer, the experts at Moffitt can explain your options and help you make informed choices. Call 1-888-MOFFITT or complete a new patient registration form online. We see patients with and without referrals.