From the President of the IBC-IC: Massimo Cristofanilli, MD
Dear Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) Community,
As we begin to navigate through 2021, I believe we will no doubt remember 2020, and all of its many challenges. We have witnessed an unprecedented pandemic that has forever changed our lives. It has impacted our habits, as well as the way we interact, work and communicate with one another. In spite of this ongoing situation, we must remain steadfast in our goals to support IBC research and care for IBC patients!
IBC does not slow down because of COVID-19. It remains vital for patients to immediately recognize signs of the disease, receive the appropriate diagnosis and be treated any without delay. Nothing should affect patient outcome!
In the last six months, I have seen several newly diagnosed IBC patients who noticed rapid breast changes, but ultimately had to postpone their mammograms and diagnostic biopsies for three months or longer—just to find out they had developed metastatic disease at time of initiation of treatment.
This new trend of delayed diagnosis due to COVID-19 is very dangerous for those diagnosed with IBC, as it is vastly different from other forms of estrogen-positive early breast cancer or DCIS. We do not accept the same altered timeline for diagnosis and treatment of anemia or leukemia. Therefore, do not delay your tests if you suspect IBC—and certainly do not delay treatment if you are confirmed with IBC.
We recognize the importance of this topic, so we have launched Physicians’ and Patients’ COVID-19 questionnaires to fully understand the magnitude and the impact the pandemic has on our IBC healthcare providers and patients. We ask you all to participate so that we may learn from this experience and help advocate for you.
Rest assured that COVID-19 will be soon defeated by targeted and effective therapies, and prevented by vaccines. IBC treatments have improved, but we have not achieved a cure. Proper care of IBC requires all the attention to details in diagnosis and treatment, and continued research to achieve one day the same results.
If you are having concerns or issues, please refer to our listing of our specialized Cancer Centers and Clinicians to ask for assistance or help.
Massimo Cristofanilli, MD, FACP