Refining Local-Regional Therapy for IBC

  • End date
    Dec 1, 2027
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Updated on 4 October 2022
breast carcinoma
inflammatory breast cancer


This Feasibility study is trying to determine:

  • If Lymphoscintigraphy (imaging of the lymphatic drainage patterns) is effective in demonstrating the drainage to the sentinel lymph nodes in patients with inflammatory breast cancer.
  • The likelihood of identifying the sentinel lymph nodes in the operating room, using both blue dye and the radioactive substance used for lymphoscintigraphy.
  • The incidence of lymphedema (arm swelling which occurs after lymph node surgery) in women with inflammatory breast cancer
  • Outcomes for women with inflammatory breast cancer, whether or not the sentinel lymph nodes can be identified.


This research study is a Feasibility Study, which means the investigators are collecting information from a relatively small group of patients to determine if the sentinel lymph node procedure identifies the first nodes that drain the breast in patients with inflammatory breast cancer.

The sentinel node procedure is a standard method to evaluate whether breast cancer has spread to the axillary lymph nodes (lymph nodes under the arm) or remains in the lymph nodes under the arm after chemotherapy in non-inflammatory breast cancer. "Standard" means that sentinel lymph node biopsy is accepted by the majority of the medical community as a suitable method to determine if breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or remains in the lymph nodes after chemotherapy. In women with non-inflammatory breast cancer, these lymph nodes are tested first and if they are free of cancer additional lymph nodes are not removed. By safely limiting the amount of lymph node surgery to only the sentinel lymph nodes, the likelihood of developing lymphedema (arm swelling after lymph node surgery) has declined among women with non-inflammatory breast cancer.

Currently, sentinel lymph node biopsy is not performed in inflammatory breast cancer as there are little data supporting that it works or is accurate. For inflammatory breast cancer, performing lymphoscintigraphy (imaging study to show the drainage from the breast to the lymph nodes) and sentinel lymph node biopsy is investigational. "Investigational" means that this is being studied. If in this study it is determined that sentinel lymph nodes can be accurately identified and tested in patients with inflammatory breast cancer, this could lead to future studies testing whether complete lymph node dissection can be avoided in women with inflammatory breast cancer whose sentinel nodes are free of cancer. Thus, potentially also reducing the likelihood of lymphedema in patients who receive treatment for inflammatory breast cancer.

The research study procedures include screening for eligibility, imaging evaluation, lymphoscintigraphy, sentinel lymph node evaluation, a mandatory research biopsy, research blood draws and questionnaires.

It is expected that about 50 people will take part in this research study at participating sites around the United States

Johns Hopkins University on behalf of the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC) is supporting this research study by providing funding for the research study. The TBCRC is a group of academic medical centers across the United States that work together to conduct breast cancer research.

Condition Breast Cancer, Inflammatory Breast Cancer, Sentinel Lymph Node
Treatment Lymphoscintigraphy
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04636710
SponsorDana-Farber Cancer Institute
Last Modified on4 October 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Stage III IBC (cT4d cN0-2). Inflammatory breast cancer is defined as the following constellation of symptoms (all of the following must be met)
Rapid onset symptoms (6 months or less from time of diagnosis)
Breast erythema, edema and/or peau d'orange and/or warm breast with or without an underlying palpable mass
Erythema occupying at least one-third of the breast
Pathologic confirmation (biopsy-proven) invasive breast carcinoma
Women age ≥18 years
ECOG performance status ≤2
Ability to understand and willingness to sign informed consent document and comply with study procedures, including baseline research biopsy. If the research biopsy is not felt to be reasonably safe or feasible, a waiver must be obtained from the Principal Investigator. A formal exception would not be required in this case

Exclusion Criteria

Participants who initiated pre-operative/neoadjuvant therapy prior to registration are ineligible
Participants with Stage IV (metastatic) breast cancer are excluded. The absence of any evidence of distant disease on staging studies needs to be confirmed at the time of diagnosis (within 42 days from initial presentation) using the staging studies that are standard for the participating institution
Participants with positive contralateral axillary nodes identified on standard imaging studies (MMG, MRI, US) are excluded. In participants with clinically suspicious axillary nodes, US guided biopsy will be performed prior to registration. If the contralateral axillary biopsy is positive, patients will not be eligible. If standard imaging does not identify contralateral disease yet drainage to the contralateral axillary basin is identified on pre-NAC lymphoscintigraphy, contralateral axillary US (if not already performed) will be obtained and any suspicious contralateral axillary nodes will undergo US guided biopsy. If the contralateral axillary biopsy is positive, patients will not continue on study for the evaluation of the primary endpoint, but their data will be used for the descriptive analyses of lymphatic drainage patterns in IBC. Contralateral invasive breast cancer without axillary involvement or in-situ carcinoma in either breast is allowed
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