Inflammatory Breast Cancer

A lump in the breast may not be present or detected by palpation or mammography to be diagnosed as inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). A swollen red colored breast often with an inverted nipple and no lump is the classic appearance of IBC. These ‘inflammatory-like’ presentations can often lead to misdiagnosis of infection or mastitis with dire consequences for the patients. IBC is recognized as being distinct and the most aggressive type of breast cancer. Primary IBC accounts for an estimated 6% of all breast cancers in the United States, and an estimated 13% worldwide but is also responsible for a disproportionate number of breast cancer-related deaths (10%) that occur each year worldwide. With improved advocacy, outreach, social media and education, an increase in IBC patient cases in large clinical centers (even up to 10 fold) has been recognized. Early and accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment by experts who specialize in IBC can make an important difference. There is a critical need to understand this understudied disease toward significant strides in development of new and effective treatment options for a cure.Dr. Devi and Scott Sauer and Myron Evans

Dr. Devi leads the Duke Consortium for Inflammatory Breast Cancer Translational Research supported by the School of Medicine
This consortium enhances interactions between basic, translational, and clinical researchers and provides a springboard for multi-PI program project applications. It also promotes collaborations with local universities including North Carolina Central University, UNC, and NC State.


IBC Team of Investigators

Dr. Mark Dewhirst, Dept. of Rad Oncol, DCI – Novel Imaging Strategies and In vivo IBC Models

Dr. Gayathri Devi, Dept. of Surgery, DCI – Mechanisms of IBC Tumor Cell Emboli formation and Metastasis

Dr. Neil Spector, Dept. of Medicine, DCI – Targeted Therapies in IBC

Dr. Jim Abbruzzese, Dept of Medicine, DCI- Translational Research toward Clinical Trials

Dr. Kim Blackwell, DCI – Biobanking, Clinical Trials

Dr. Shelley Hwang, DCI – Current IBC Clinical Trials

Dr. Kelly Marcom, DCI – Genetic Factors and Clinical Biomarkers in IBC

Dr. Richard DiGiulio, Nicholas School – Early Life Environmental Exposures and Later Life Consequences

Dr. Kim Lyerly, Dept. of Surgery, Applied Therapeutics Section – Immune-based therapeutics

Dr. Kent Weinhold, Dept of Surgery, DHVI – Viral-mediated Mechanisms in IBC and Techniques for Immune Monitoring

Dr. Herman Staats, Dept. of Pathology – Mucosal Vaccine Strategies

Dr. Kris Woods, Dept. of Pharm. Cancer Biol. – Screening Platforms (Cancer Toolkit) to Profile Drug Responses

Dr. Jen Tsang Ashley Chi, Dept. of Mol. Gen. and Mol. Biol., CGCB – Genomic Approaches to Assess IBC tumors

Dr. Terry Hyslop, Biostatistics, DCI

Dr. Carey Anders, UNC CH- Brain Metastasis Models

Drs. Kevin Williams, Jodie Fleming and Xiaohe Yang

BRITE and BBRI, NCCU– IBC Health Disparity


IBC Specific Publications

  1. Aird KM, Ding X, Baras A, Wei J, Morse MA, Clay T, Lyerly HK, Devi GR. Trastuzumab signaling in ErbB2-overexpressing inflammatory breast cancer correlates with X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein expression. Mol Cancer Ther. 2008 Jan;7(1):38-47. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-07-0370. PMID: 18202008
  2. Aird KM, Ghanayem RB, Peplinski S, Lyerly HK, Devi GR. X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein inhibits apoptosis in inflammatory breast cancer cells with acquired resistance to an ErbB1/2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Mol Cancer Ther. 2010 May;9(5):1432-42. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-10-0160. PMID: 20406946
  3. Thomas ZI, Gibson W, Sexton JZ, Aird KM, Ingram SM, Aldrich A, Lyerly HK, Devi GR, Williams KP. Targeting GLI1 expression in human inflammatory breast cancer cells enhances apoptosis and attenuates migration. Br J Cancer. 2011 May 10;104(10):1575-86. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.133. PMID: 21505458
  4. Aird KM, Allensworth JL, Batinic-Haberle I, Lyerly HK, Dewhirst MW, Devi GR. ErbB1/2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor mediates oxidative stress-induced apoptosis in inflammatory breast cancer cells. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012 Feb;132(1):109-19. doi: 10.1007/s10549-011-1568-1. Epub 2011 May 11. PMID: 21559822
  5. Allensworth JL, Aird KM, Aldrich AJ, Batinic-Haberle I, Devi GR. XIAP inhibition and generation of reactive oxygen species enhances TRAIL sensitivity in inflammatory breast cancer cells. Mol Cancer Ther. 2012 Jul;11(7):1518-27. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-11-0787. PMID: 22508521
  6. Allensworth JL, Sauer SJ, Lyerly HK, Morse MA, Devi GR. Smac mimetic Birinapant induces apoptosis and enhances TRAIL potency in inflammatory breast cancer cells in an IAP-dependent and TNF-α-independent mechanism. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2013 Jan;137(2):359-71. doi: 10.1007/s10549-012-2352-6. PMID: 23225169
  7. Nair S, Aldrich AJ, McDonnell E, Cheng Q, Aggarwal A, Patel P, Williams MM, Boczkowski D, Lyerly HK, Morse MA, Devi GR. Immunologic targeting of FOXP3 in inflammatory breast cancer cells. PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e53150. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053150. PMID: 23341929
  8. Williams KP, Allensworth JL, Ingram SM, Smith GR, Aldrich AJ, Sexton JZ, Devi GR. Quantitative high-throughput efficacy profiling of approved oncology drugs in inflammatory breast cancer models of acquired drug resistance and re-sensitization. Cancer Lett. 2013 Aug 28;337(1):77-89. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2013.05.017. PMID: 23689139
  9. Allensworth JL, Evans MK, Bertucci F, Aldrich AJ, Festa RA, Finetti P, Ueno NT, Safi R, McDonnell DP, Thiele DJ, Van Laere SJ, Devi GR. Disulfiram (DSF) acts as a copper ionophore to induce copper-dependent oxidative stress and mediate anti-tumor efficacy in inflammatory breast cancer. Molecular Oncology In press
  10. Allensworth JL, Evans MK, Bertucci F, Aldrich AJ, Festa RA, Finetti P, Ueno NT, Safi R, McDonnell DP, Thiele DJ, Van Laere S, Devi GRDisulfiram (DSF) acts as a copper ionophore to induce copper-dependent oxidative stress and mediate anti-tumor efficacy in inflammatory breast cancer. Mol Oncol. 2015 Jun;9(6):1155-68. doi: 10.1016/j.molonc.2015.02.007. Epub 2015 Feb 21.