HOUSTONThe University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has opened the first clinic in the world dedicated to the research and treatment of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). The clinic, under the co-direction of Massimo Cristofanilli, MD, associate professor of breast medical oncology, and Thomas Buchholz, MD, professor of radiation oncology, is housed in the Nellie B. Connally Breast Center.
"Our primary goal is to finally understand why this disease is different, why it is so resistant to treatment, and ultimately to develop therapies that improve the well-being of women with this very rare form of breast cancer," Dr. Cristofanilli said. Inflammatory breast cancer represents just 1% to 2% of all breast cancers.
Already, M.D. Anderson sees approximately 30 new cases of IBC a year, more than any other institution in the country, Dr. Cristofanilli said. With the new clinic, he and his team hope to see 60 to 80 new cases annually.
He noted that PET scans may appear to allow better detection of the disease than mammography. He also pointed out that in early preliminary studies, lapatinib (Tykerb), a small-molecule inhibitor of EGFR and HER2, has shown promise for IBC patients whose tumors express HER2 (see ONI November 2006, page 2).