Immunotherapy extends lives of patients with aggressive breast cancer, study says

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Immunotherapy, treatment used to help boost the body's immune system, allowed some patients with an aggressive form of breast cancer to live longer, a study finds.

The treatment is the first immunotherapy to improve the outcomes of patients with triple negative breast cancer, said Peter Schmid, the study's author and Clinical Director of the St. Bartholomew’s Breast Cancer Centre in London.

Findings were presented during the European Society for Medical Oncology's 2018 Congress on Saturday and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers ran a clinical trial involving more than 900 patients with metastatic triple negative breast cancer who did not receive earlier treatment for metastatic disease.

Patients receiving a combination of standard chemotherapy and the antibody atezolizumab reduced the risk of the death or the disease getting worse by 20 percent.

Typically, the survival rate for patients with metastatic triple breast cancer — a rare form of cancer often affecting younger women — is 12 to 15 months, said researchers.

Schmid say the treatment "will change the way triple-negative breast cancer is treated."

"This combination should become a new treatment option for patients with metastatic triple negative breast cancer," said Schmid in a statement.

Multiple studies have shown how immune therapy can fight several cancers, including malignant brain tumors and lung cancer.

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