New Hope for Aggressive Type of Breast Cancer: Immunotherapy Success
Immunotherapy trial records success in showing that lives can be extended in sufferers of triple-negative breast cancer
The latest research led by Queen Mary University of London and St. Bartholomew’s Hospital has shown that extending survival by up to ten months is achievable through using a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy so that the body’s own immune system can be tuned to attack triple negative breast cancer.
The research has also been published in the New England Journal of Medicine and was also presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology 2018 Congress in Munich. It also showed that the new treatment can reduce the risk of death or cancer progressing by up to as much as 40%.
Young women in their 40s and 50s are most often affected by this disease. The standard treatment is chemotherapy, to which most individuals develop resistance to. If the disease spreads to other parts of the body, survival is often only 12 to 15 months.
However, the new treatment aims to bring hope as it combines the standard weekly chemotherapy sessions with the immunotherapy medication atezolizumab which is given once every two weeks. The combo aims to rough up the surface of the cancer, which enables the immune system to easier recognize and fight it.
The author of the trial, Professor Peter Schmid explained:
“These results are a massive step forward. We are changing how triple-negative breast cancer is treated in proving for the first time that immune therapy has a substantial survival benefit. In a combined treatment approach, we are using chemotherapy to tear away the tumour’s ‘immune-protective cloak’ to expose it as well as enabling people’s own immune system to get at it.
“Triple-negative breast cancer is an aggressive form of breast cancer; we have been desperately looking for better treatment options. It is particularly tragic that those affected are often young, with many themselves having young families. I’m thrilled that by using a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy we are able to significantly extend lives compared to the standard treatment of chemotherapy alone.”