Q and A: Immunotherapy and breast cancer

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Dear Mayo Clinic: I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Doctors mentioned the use of immunotherapy. What is immunotherapy, and how is it different from the chemotherapy I have traditionally heard to treat cancer?

Answer: Immunotherapy is a new treatment in the current breast cancer treatment environment.It is also used to treat other cancers, including: lung cancer, Melanoma and Kidney cancer..Chemotherapy targets directly cell Immunotherapy, which grows and divides rapidly like cancer cells, uses the body’s immune system to help fight cancer.

To understand how immunotherapy works, we need to understand the role of the immune system. The immune system is designed to protect the body from all recognized threats, including cancer cells. The immune system is a complex of cells trained to recognize proteins on the surface of other cells as perhaps harmful rather than “self” or part of the body, or “non-self” or part of the body. Network.

This mechanism is designed to prevent tumor cells (cells that exhibit abnormal tissue growth) from developing into tumors by destroying them. However, cancer cells may be superior to these immune cells. One way they do this is to manipulate the immune system to turn off the body’s response. In essence, cancer cells negate immune checkpoints, thereby preventing attacks and preventing cancer cell destruction.

To prevent this, certain types of immunotherapy have been developed. Known as checkpoint inhibitors, or PD-1 / PD-L1 pathway inhibitors, this treatment aims to prevent inactivation and enhance the body’s antitumor immune response.

At this time, immunotherapy is primarily approved for patients with metastatic or locally advanced triple-negative breast cancer. It is an aggressive subtype of breast cancer, accounting for 10% to 15% of breast cancers, and treatment options other than chemotherapy are limited.

Two immunotherapeutic agents, atezolizumab (PD-L1 inhibitor) and pembrolizumab (PD-1 inhibitor), combined with chemotherapy, have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for this subtype of breast cancer. At this point, the patient’s cancer tissue must express PD-L1 to receive immunotherapy. This means that the tumor mutation load is high, which means that it is detected by the test or that the cancer tissue has a large number of gene mutations.

My patients often ask about the side effects of immunotherapy. Immune-related side effects often occur because the immune system is “induced”. Typical side effects include malaise, chills, body aches, injection site pain, injection-related reactions, headaches, flu-like symptoms, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Immunotherapy can also affect liver function tests. It causes respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough and fever. It causes hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, or adrenal symptoms. And a rash. Most of these side effects are mild to moderate and reversible when detected early and treated in a timely manner.

If a patient develops side effects, depending on the severity of the side effects, immunotherapeutic agents may need to be withheld and oral steroids may be given to reduce the immune response and counteract the side effects. In severe cases, other immunosuppressive drugs may be used.

Researchers are also investigating the benefits of immunotherapy in early-stage breast cancer, including preoperative settings in combination with chemotherapy. Triple negative breast cancer.. The use of immunotherapy for other subtypes of breast cancer, including hormone receptor-positive and HER2-positive breast cancer, has also been evaluated. Several clinical trials are underway to investigate the combination of immunotherapy and targeted drugs across breast cancer subtypes.

Cancer vaccines are another type of immunotherapy that has been developed and tested for breast cancer. Cancer vaccines help train the immune system to see and “remember” antigens or proteins on the surface of the body. cancer cell,for that reason Immune system You can fight these antigens if you encounter them in the future.These vaccines have been studied in various ways breast cancer Settings: Current Cancer Treatment; Prevention of Cancer Recurrence; Or To Reduce Risk cancer Spreads or metastasizes to other parts of the body.

Use of immunotherapy to treat specific patients chest Cancer is promising.Immunotherapy Valuable tool For many patients, however, I encourage you to talk to your care provider about the pros and cons of your situation.You can also learn more about Clinical trial using Immunotherapy From the Mayo Clinic website.

— Dr. Pooja Advani, Hematology / Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida


Studies identify biomarkers of breast cancer response to immunotherapy


© 2021 Mayo Clinic News Network.
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Quote: Q and A: Immunotherapy and Breast Cancer (October 8, 2021) was obtained from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-10-immunotherapy-breast-cancer.html on October 8, 2021. Was

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