September 26, 2019

Can Immunotherapy Be Used for Breast Cancer?

immunotherapy for breast cancer

What Is Immunotherapy for Breast Cancer?

Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses medicines to help your immune system identify and fight cancer cells more effectively. Immunotherapy for metastatic breast cancer, for example, increases the body’s ability to kill cancer cells, prevent the spread of cancer cells and slow or stop cancer cell growth. The substances that help the immune system work more efficiently and better differentiate between healthy cells and cancer cells may be naturally occurring in the body or man-made.

Benefits of Immunotherapy for Breast Cancer

Researchers are actively exploring how immunotherapy treatment for breast cancer can improve outcomes for patients. Currently, immunotherapy for breast cancer is limited to specific types of the disease. For example, TECENTRIQ® can be used for locally advanced triple-negative breast cancer that can’t be surgically removed and for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer. These cancers must test positive for the PD-L1 protein.

Research continues on immunotherapy and breast cancer. As new studies are conducted, there’s hope that there will be many benefits from helping the immune system do a better job of destroying cancer cells.

Challenges of Immunotherapy for Breast Cancer

While immunotherapy treatment for breast cancer shows great promise, there are challenges as well. One issue is that current treatments produce significant side effects. These can include fever, body aches, weakness, and nausea. In some cases, side effects can be life-threatening.

Another consideration is the cost of immunotherapy for breast cancer. Insurance may not cover these types of treatments, and they can be quite expensive. All of these challenges must be taken into account by patients and care providers.

Should You Try Immunotherapy Treatment for Breast Cancer?

Because immunology treatment for breast cancer is relatively new, the decision on whether it’ll be beneficial in a particular instance isn’t always clear. However, researchers are learning more every day about who’s a good candidate.

For example, immunotherapy may be more helpful for people with triple-negative breast cancer as opposed to those with other forms of the disease. Also, immunotherapy may work better in cancers that have more gene mutations or where tumors have a higher level of a specific protein.

One option for some patients is to participate in breast cancer immunotherapy clinical trials. These trials involve risks including treatment side effects and the chance that the treatment is ineffective. However, there’s also the chance that a particular treatment will improve outcomes. If you’re battling breast cancer, your doctor can tell you if you’re a candidate for these trials and where they’re taking place.

Learn More About Immunotherapy and Breast Cancer from Baptist Health

Get more information on immunotherapy and breast cancer from Baptist Health. Take a Health Risk Assessment (HRA) questionnaire to estimate your personal health risk and identify your risk factors for breast cancer.

Learn More.