Immune-Based Treatment Helps Fight Aggressive Breast Cancer, Study Finds

A new major study, reported in TheNew York Times, found that women with an aggressive type of breast cancer lived longer if they received immunotherapy plus chemotherapy, rather than chemo alone. 

The results are expected to change the standard of care for women like those in the clinical trial, who had advanced cases of “triple-negative” breast cancer. That form of the disease often resists standard therapies, and survival rates are poor. It is twice as common in African-American women as in white women, and more likely to occur in younger women.

Researchers said the new study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, was a long-awaited breakthrough for immunotherapy in breast cancer. The findings may lead to the first approval by the Food and Drug Administration for an immunotherapy drug to treat breast cancer. But the approval would likely be limited to a certain type of aggressive cancer.

Experts weighed in, including Columbia University's Kevin Kalinsky, MD, MS, leading breast cancer expert and member of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC). He suggested that patients like those in the study should talk to their doctors “about whether it is possible for them to get access to the medication while we’re waiting for F.D.A. approval.” Dr. Kalinsky is assistant professor of medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and cares for patients diagnosed with breast cancer and teaches on the Breast Oncology service. To read the full article, which appeared online on Oct. 20, 2018, visit The New York Times