Women with Common Form of Breast Cancer Can Skip Chemotherapy

Pearl Mccarthy
June 5, 2018

Perkins really is lucky.

Bottom line: Figueredo said the study found approximately 70 percent of women with that type of cancer do not need chemo therapy.

An experimental therapy that extracts and multiplies powerful immune-system cells from inside tumors eradicated a patient's breast cancer, a scientific first that could lead to new ways of treating malignancies that have resisted all other efforts.

The treatment is not only expensive but physically demanding and several other patients in the clinical trial died during treatment, including several who succumbed to side effects. It was achieved by using her own immune cells to wipe out the tumors.

Ms Perkins had 62 mutations in her tumour cells. "It opens the door to the treatment of nearly any cancer".

A tiny percentage of immune cells programmed to recognize those mutations, were grown and injected back into the her bloodstream. There is still a long way to go, he said, but it's an approach that isn't specific to a certain cancer type, meaning it could evolve into an effective therapy for many forms of the disease, he said.

And she went through one last round of chemo to give the new lymphocytes room to take over. In less than three weeks, the cancer was completely eradicated from her body. "I had given up fighting", Perkins said.

Rosenberg's team often takes on last-ditch cases - people with months to live, whose cancer has come back again and again despite multiple treatments.

The challenge so far in cancer immunotherapy is it tends to work spectacularly for some patients, but the majority do not benefit. It could be that they're too weak, or too few.

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Perkins knew this when she signed up for the trial. In 2012, she got her first TILs infusion, and her tumours began to shrink.

Professor Arnie Purushotham, senior clinical advisor at Cancer Research UK, said that by grouping patients based on how likely their cancer is to return, the trial shows great potential to ensure treatment is kinder without compromising its effectiveness.

"But because this new approach to immunotherapy is dependent on mutations, not on cancer type, it is in a sense a blueprint we can use for the treatment of many types of cancer". Minute amounts of these natural T-cells infiltrate the tumor, though they aren't present in high enough quantities to combat the growing cancer, Rosenberg said. Tuttle was diagnosed with breast cancer last August. "It's a whole different way of thinking about cancer treatment", he said. Do you think a cancer cure is close? There is no published evidence for Keytruda having any effect on HR-positive breast cancer, and the researchers say the short course of the drug is unlikely to have been able to confer such a protracted benefit on its own.

This work showed "we are now at the cusp of a major revolution in finally realising the elusive goal of being able to target the plethora of mutations in cancer through immunotherapy", he wrote.

There are typically more than 55,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in the United Kingdom each year, while around 11,500 people die from the disease. "It was all gone", she said.

She had surgery at the end of September followed by a new option. She had also started a "bucket list" of adventures and will continue ticking off experiences.

"We have been waiting for these results for years", said Allison Kurian, an oncologist at Stanford University who wasn't involved in the trial.

She just completed the Florida kayak trip and looks forward to more.

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