Personalized Breast Cancer Treatment Taking Shape


Breast cancer affects a large number of women and as research continues, the prognosis looks better. For those with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), treatment is now a personalized affair, customized according to cancer subtype. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first immune checkpoint inhibitor for breast cancer known as atezolizumab (Tecentriq). It is to be used for unresectable locally advanced or metastatic PD-L1-positive TNBC.

Advancements have enabled doctors to effectively treat TNBC, with three treatments now available within the past year or so. Doctors are continuing with research because they have found interesting facts about TNBC. These include:

  • TNBC is not a single disease. Its biggest identifier is that the progesterone receptor is negative, the estrogen receptor is negative and HER2 is negative. Research discovered that genetically, TNBC divides further into about six categories.
  • This further classification is working to the patient’s advantage because it can be targeted for a more specific and effective cure. An example is using PARP inhibitors for patients with TNBC and have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. DNA damage occurs caused by food, environmental carcinogens, etc. and this leads to single-strand DNA breaks. The PARP enzyme responds by fixing these bonds. PARP inhibitors stop this process causing double-strand DNA breaks and the death of cancer cells.
  • This targeted therapy is known as synthetic lethality. The proteins in the mutation attempt to repair double-stranded DNA breaks. Inhibiting that action causes the DNA to scramble and the cells die as a result.

The idea that you have a genetic mutation may be worrisome because it increases the likelihood of developing breast cancer. Patients need not panic because these medical advancements and approvals are now providing useful therapies for the treatment of metastatic disease. Mutations offer more promising treatment avenues and treatment will be personalized to a tee to ensure it is effective.

More Choice Cancer Care Centers