FROM MAY 1973 TO DECEMBER 1981, 63 PATIENTS with inflammatory carcinoma of the breast were treated with a doxorubicin-containing chemotherapy regimen (FAC). After a median of three cycles of FAC, 41 patients received primary therapy with irradiation; more recently, 21 had mastectomy as primary therapy. One patient relapsed following a treatment delay and did not receive local therapy. Fourteen of 21 patients who underwent mastectomy had subsequent consolidation therapy with irradiation.
At median follow-up of 60 months, median relapse-free survival (RFS) and survival were 24 and 43 months, respectively. The initial site of recurrence was locoregional in eight patients (20%). In addition, two of seven uncensored patients (18%) who suffered initial recurrence in the contralateral breast remained disease-free at 28 and 55 months with further surgery. While no locoregional recurrences were seen in the 14 mastectomy patients who completed comprehensive irradiation, no RFS nor survival advantage was noted for either initial local therapy.
Sixteen patients with dermal lymphatic carcinomatosis and 10 patients with negative skin biopsies had median RFS of 31 and 46 months, respectively (p = 0.45). Median RFS was 36 months in patients ≥50 years of age and 19 months in patients <50 (p = 0.05). Response to FAC was the most significant predictor of RFS and survival. Patients who achieved complete or partial remission (PR) with induction FAC as compared to patients who achieved <PR had median RFS of 31 vs. 19 months (p = 0.01) and median survivals of 60 vs. 27 months (p = 0.05), respectively. Categorization of patients according to clinical, mammographie, and pathologic criteria facilitated identification of potential long-term re-sponders. With combined modality approach to inflammatory carcinoma of the breast, we can expect an estimated 31% of patients to be relapse-free at 5 years after treatment.