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Combined Therapy Brings New Hope For Aggressive Forms Of Breast Cancers

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Combined Therapy For Breast Cancers

According to an article published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, it seems that researchers have made new progress in the treatment of triple negative breast cancer, a form of breast cancer that occurs in young women. Triple negative breast cancer does not express estrogen receptors ( ER), progesterone receptors ( PR) or Her2/neu (human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2).This is a type of breast cancer that is more aggressive than the other subtypes, has a worse prognosis and do not respond to conventional treatments. Triple negative breast cancer is usually found in advanced stages because on the one hand has a rapid growth pattern and on the other hand usually affects young women. Another distinguishing feature of this subtype of cancer is that the tumor is larger than other types of cancer.

Treatment is usually limited because there is no specific therapeutic targets to act on (such as estrogen receptors). Because of this, the risk of developing metastases (lungs and brain) and the risk of relapse is high; this is one of the reason why the average survival time is 12 months. But now researchers have found that a combination therapy is able to destroy tumor cells completely. This new combination therapy is designed to eradicate tumors in advanced stages and experiments conducted so far in laboratory animals have been successful.

Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer

Researchers tested the effectiveness of this therapy in three separate experiments conducted on 40 rats of which 15 were already in stage IV, which means that they had already metastases in other organs. In the first experiment, sensitive tumor cells were destroyed with low-dose chemotherapy. Then, in order to prevent recurrence of the tumor and to destroy the rest of the cells that were resistant to chemotherapy, there have been used low doses of radiation. This combination therapy resulted in the destruction of the primary tumor and the metastases in the lungs, brain and bones. In parallel there were conducted experiments in which rats were treated with only one of the therapies, that is with chemotherapy only or radiotherapy, and the result was that the tumor was not completely eradicated  ( the tumor relapsed).

Dr Fares Al-Ejeh, Senior Research Scientist at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research and lead author of the study, said that the next step is to translate these findings to humans. He hopes that in 10 years this success will lead to the development of a treatment for women diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.