A recent study on inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), a rare breast cancer, considered the contributions of hereditary versus environmental/lifestyle factors on incidence of the disease. The study, led by Dr. Roxana Moslehi, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University at Albany School of Public Health and genetic epidemiologist in the UAlbany Cancer Research Center, was published in BMC Cancer. The study compared patients with IBC with patients diagnosed with non-inflammatory breast cancer (NIBC), with controls from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study and a study conducted at the University of Toronto (UT).
[Photo: Dr. Roxana Moslehi]
IBC tends to occur at an earlier average age than non-inflammatory breast cancers (NIBC), shows aggressive histopathologic features at the time of diagnosis, and is associated with poor survival. The etiologic components of IBC are generally unknown and the contributions of hereditary versus environmental/lifestyle factors remain the subject of controversy in the literature.
In the study, the groups were compared with respect to the prevalence of first-degree family history of breast cancer and selected environmental/lifestyle risk factors for breast cancer. The study results showed that the prevalence of first-degree breast cancer family history among IBC cases was lower compared to breast and ovarian cancer cases but higher than unaffected individuals. Various lifestyle factors were shown to be higher in the IBC patients compared to WHI breast care cases, such as oral contraceptive use. IBC cases had a significantly higher frequency of regular alcohol consumption (≥1 drink per day) compared to WHI controls and UT controls and higher, but statistically non-significant, prevalence compared to NIBC cases and WHI.
Multiple-case inflammatory and non-inflammatory breast cancer families may reflect aggregation of common genetic and/or environmental factors predisposing to both types of breast cancer. Study findings that oral contraceptive use and regular alcohol consumption may be associated with IBC warrant further investigation.