Immunotherapy has done a lot to change the results of cancer, but so far it has been effective only in treating certain types of cancer, such as lungs and bladder, and melanoma. Recently, however, the FDA approved a combination of an immunotherapeutic drug called atezolizumab and chemotherapy (nab-paclitazel) for the treatment of a specific breast cancer. According to Jama Abrahams, MD, oncologist, for some women who have breast cancer – especially metastatic – "triple-negative" breast cancer – this could be an option.
"This is not for all patients; it is for patients with metastatic breast cancer (which means that the cancer has already left the breast and has spread to the other part of the body), and even in metastatic breast cancer, this is especially for triple negative breast cancer, "he explains.
FDA Approval for cancer that is difficult to cure
When the disease is categorized as a triple negative, this means that cancer tests adversely affect estrogen receptors, as well as progesterone receptors and excess HER2 protein. These results indicate that cancer is aggressive in nature and is not guided by these hormones or proteins. Therefore, traditional hormone therapy medications or medicines that HER2 protein receptors are not effective when administered. In addition, about 15% of breast cancer is diagnosed as triple-negative. Research suggests that this type of breast cancer is more often diagnosed in women under 50, while it is more likely for African-American women.
After studying the effects of atezolizumab and nab-pactlitazel - which suggests that the combination of these two drugs has the potential to reduce the spread of the triple negative breast cancer in phase 4, which helps women live longer without cancer – the FDA has approved this treatment. Click here to access the original article published in NEJM November last year.
How does immunotherapy work?
Imunotherapy working to fight cancer by strengthening the immune system and natural defense. It is effective when it slows down or stops the growth of cancer cells, prevents cancer in other parts of the body, or improves the ability of the immune system to destroy cancer cells. Unlike other treatments against cancer – such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, aimed at removing cancer cells – this treatment aims to use its own immune response to an organism to destroy cancer cells.
Dr. Abraham points out that important research – which can lead to more treatment options – would not be possible without people who are willing to take part in clinical trials.
"I truly admire patients who enter clinical trials," he says. "Somewhere, somebody said" yes "to a clinical trial – and this is the only reason we are able to make progress. So we need to keep asking these questions and we must continue with clinical trials and have active involvement and participation of patients in clinical trials . "
He also noted that this advancement in immunotherapy has the potential to result in additional healing opportunities in the future, and for other types of breast cancer. As clinical trials and further studies are progressing on the already conducted research, immunotherapy may one day be applicable to several types of cancer, with positive results.