Progress for difficult-to-treat breast cancers
Combination Therapy Breast Cancer Chemotherapy

Progress for difficult-to-treat breast cancers

Dr. Talia Henkle
Dr. Talia Henkle

In 10 seconds? Triple-negative breast cancer is one of the most difficult to treat subtypes of breast cancer. Recently, ‘combination therapy’ treatment approaches have shown promise in better treating these aggressive tumors.

Can I have some background on triple-negative breast cancer? Sure! Researchers have identified three main biological features of breast tumors (AKA biomarkers) that can help guide breast cancer treatment strategies. Female hormones, specifically estrogen or progesterone, are known to help some breast tumors grow. If tumors show signs that they are impacted by these hormones, they are designated Estrogen Receptor-positive (ER+) or Progesterone Receptor-positive (PR+). Additionally, some breast tumors rely on a protein called human epidermal growth factor to grow. These cancers are designated HER+. Very effective treatments have been developed to target ER+, PR+ and HER+ breast tumors. Still, about 10-15% of breast tumors do not have these receptors, which means they do not depend on ER, PR, or HER to grow. Because they lack these three receptors, these are called “triple-negative” breast cancers, and they tend to be fast-growing tumors that are harder to treat.

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