Breast Cancer - Inflammatory: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 02/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of people who will be diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on many factors, and no 2 people with cancer are the same. Use the menu to see other pages.

Every person is different, with different factors influencing their risk of being diagnosed with this cancer and the chance of recovery after a diagnosis. It is important to talk with your doctor about any questions you have around the general statistics provided below and what they may mean for you individually. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.

How many people are diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer?

Inflammatory breast cancer makes up an estimated 1% to 5% of all breast cancers in the United States. The disease typically occurs in women younger than 40. Black women seem to have a higher risk of inflammatory breast cancer than White women. Inflammatory breast cancer can also occur in men. Men are typically older when they are diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer when compared with women.

Because inflammatory breast cancer can grow and spread quickly, this cancer often spreads to the lymph nodes around the breast. This means it is usually at a locally advanced stage when it is first diagnosed because the breast cancer cells have grown into the skin. For about 1 out of 3 people with inflammatory breast cancer, the cancer has already spread to distant parts of the body when first diagnosed.

What is the survival rate for inflammatory breast cancer?

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from inflammatory breast cancer. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having cancer may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with inflammatory breast cancer are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without this cancer.

Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years. Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with inflammatory breast cancer are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if cancer will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.

The 5-year relative survival rate for inflammatory breast cancer in the U.S. is 40%.

The survival rates for inflammatory breast cancer vary based on several factors. These include the stage of cancer, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works. Another factor that can affect outcomes is whether the cancer has certain features.

If the cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year relative survival rate is 54%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year relative survival rate is 19%.

Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for inflammatory breast cancer every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how inflammatory breast cancer is diagnosed or treated from the last 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute websites. (All sources accessed February 2023.)

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers a drawing of body parts often affected by inflammatory breast cancer. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.