Scientists inch closer to treating triple-negative breast cancer

A new study has revealed that researchers may be able to make improvements in outcomes for women with triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease that disproportionately affects younger women.

ANI| Last Updated: Sep 07, 2014, 12:35 PM IST

Washington: A new study has revealed that researchers may be able to make improvements in outcomes for women with triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease that disproportionately affects younger women.

Researchers studied the addition of other drugs - carboplatin and/or bevacizumab - to the standard treatment regimen to see if they could increase response rates. More than 440 women from cancer centers across the country enrolled in this randomized clinical trial.

William M. Sikov, a medical oncologist in the Breast Health Center and associate director for clinical research in the Program in Women's Oncology at Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, said that adding either of these medications significantly increased the percentage of women who achieved a pCR with the preoperative treatment. They hope that this means fewer women will relapse and die of their cancer, though the study is not large enough to prove this conclusively. Of the two agents they studied, we are more encouraged by the results from the addition of carboplatin, since it was associated with fewer and less concerning additional side effects than bevacizumab.

Triple-negative breast cancer accounts for 15 to 20 percent of invasive breast cancers diagnosed in the United States each year, and is more common in younger women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and BRCA1-mutation carriers. With no identified characteristic molecular abnormalities that can be targeted with medication, the current standard of treatment is chemotherapy.

The scientists said that the overall prognosis for women with this type of breast cancer remains inferior to that of other breast cancer subtypes, with higher risk of early relapse.

The study was published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.