Treatment of TNBC


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Immunotherapy Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy uses drugs to boost the patient’s own immune system to enhance its ability to recognize and fight cancer cells. For example, an immunotherapy drug called an “immune checkpoint inhibitor” works by blocking the pathway that allows cancer cells to evade detection by the immune system, thus allowing the body to mount a stronger attack against the cancer.

How does it work?2,3

How It Work

The immune system is your body’s natural defense against disease.

How It Work

It sends certain types of cells called T cells to recognize and destroy things that are not supposed to be in our bodies, including cancer cells.

How It Work

However, there are ways that allow cancer cells to evade the T cells. One of the ways they do this is by sending signals to "switches" on the T-cells (such as the PD-1 pathway) that "turn off" the T cells and prevent them from destroying the cancer cells.

How It Work

This allows cancer cells to grow and spread.

How It Work

Immune checkpoint inhibitors work by blocking these signals from the cancer cells. Immune checkpoint inhibitors turn the switches on the T cells back on.

How It Work

This helps the immune system do what it is meant to do: recognize and fight cancer cells.

Such checkpoint inhibitors can be used to treat some people with TNBC.1,3 They can used with chemotherapy before surgery (neoadjuvant setting), then alone after (adjuvant setting), to treat high-risk early-stage TNBC.4 When used in combination with chemotherapy, immunotherapy may also help certain women advanced TNBC live longer compared to chemotherapy alone.5 Advanced TNBC refers to cases wherein the breast cancer has returned and cannot be removed by surgery or has already spread to other parts of the body.

It is important to note that not all patients with TNBC are eligible for this type of treatment. Your doctor may test your cancer cells for the presence of protein to determine if your cancer is likely to respond to this type of treatment.

1 American Cancer Society. Immunotherapy for Breast Cancer. [Accessed April 2023].
2 American Cancer Society. [Accessed April 2023].
3 National Cancer Institute. [Accessed April 2023].
4 Schmid P, Cortes J, Pusztai L, et al. Pembrolizumab for early triple-negative breast cancer. N Engl J Med 2020;382:810-21. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1910549
5 Cortes J, Rugo HS, Cescon DW, et al. Pembrolizumab plus chemotherapy in advanced triple-negative breast cancer. N Engl J Med 2022;387:217-26. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2202809

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