How is locally advanced breast cancer (LABC) and inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) treated?

Updated: Dec 27, 2019
  • Author: Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: John V Kiluk, MD, FACS  more...
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Originally, the reason for grouping locally advanced breast cancer (LABC) with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) was the recognition that both diseases had little or no chance of cure from local therapy alone and were therefore considered inoperable. The definition of locally advanced disease has now broadened to include patients who are technically operable but who have large primary tumors (>5 cm).

It is important to recognize, however, that the reasons for using neoadjuvant therapy in women with large primary tumors, in whom the goal is to increase the possibility of breast-conserving surgery, are different from the reasons in women with disease that meets the original criteria of LABC or IBC, for whom the administration of systemic treatment is essential to make definitive local treatment possible with the intent of cure.

In September 2013, the FDA approved pertuzumab for neoadjuvant treatment in combination with trastuzumab and docetaxel for patients with HER2-positive, locally advanced, inflammatory, or early stage breast cancer (either greater than 2 cm in diameter or node positive). Approval was based on a randomized trial that compared a number of regimens with and without pertuzumab in women with HER2-positive breast cancer. In the trial, 39.3% of patients treated with pertuzumab, trastuzumab, and docetaxel (n = 107) achieved a pathologic complete response (pCR) compared with 21.5% of patients treated with trastuzumab and docetaxel (n = 107) at the time of surgery. [137] A confirmatory trial will provide long-term outcomes and is expected to be completed in 2016.

According to evidence-based guidelines from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the HER2 -targeted drugs trastuzumab, pertuzumab, and taxane should be used as first-line therapy for patients with advanced HER2 -positive breast cancer (except in patients with a contraindication to taxane). [138, 139] These guidelines provide indications not only for first-line HER2 -targeted therapy but also for second- and third-line treatment.

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