New Immunotherapy Trial Offers Hope for Aggressive Breast Cancer Patients

by Iswarya on  October 22, 2018 at 3:45 PM Cancer News
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New immunotherapy trial offers hope for patients with an aggressive type of breast cancer, reports a new study.The findings of the study are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
New Immunotherapy Trial Offers Hope for Aggressive Breast Cancer Patients
New Immunotherapy Trial Offers Hope for Aggressive Breast Cancer Patients

New research led by Queen Mary University of London and St Bartholomew's Hospital has shown that by using a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy the body's immune system can be tuned to attack triple-negative breast cancer, extending survival by up to ten months.

The research presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology 2018 Congress in Munich, also showed that the combined treatment reduced the risk of death or cancer progressing by up to 40 percent.

Triple-negative breast cancer often affects young women, with many people diagnosed in their 40s or 50s. The standard treatment is chemotherapy, which most patients quickly develop resistance to. If the disease spreads to other parts of the body, survival is often only 12 to 15 months.

The new treatment combines standard weekly chemotherapy with the immunotherapy medication atezolizumab which is given once every two weeks. The combination works by chemotherapy 'roughening up' the surface of cancer, which enables the immune system to recognize better and therefore fight cancer as a foreign object.

Author of the trial Professor Peter Schmid, Professor of Cancer Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and Clinical Director of the Breast Cancer Centre at St Bartholomew's Hospital, 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 tumor's 'immune-protective cloak' to expose it as well as enabling people's 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 can significantly extend lives compared to the standard treatment of chemotherapy alone."

Based on the results of this trial this new treatment is currently under review by health authorities and will hopefully become available in the NHS in the near future. In the interim, patients at St Bartholomew's Hospital with triple-negative breast cancer are offered immunotherapy within ongoing trials.

Source: Eurekalert

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