Breast Cancer Patients Who Respond to Immunotherapy Have Long Survival Benefit

Tecentriq appears to produce long term benefit in some Triple-negative Breast Cancer patients

Breast Cancer Patients Who Respond to Immunotherapy Have Long Survival Benefit

by C.H. Weaver M.D. (08/2018)

Among patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) who were treated with the anti-PD-L1 cancer immunotherapy Tecentriq (atezolizumab), those who responded to the medicine lived significantly longer compared with those who did not respond, according to data from a small clinical study presented at the American Association of Cancer Research annual meeting.

About Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Approximately 12% of breast cancers are triple-negative breast cancers, meaning that they are estrogen-receptor negative (ER-), progesterone-receptor negative (PR-), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative (HER2-). This means that TNBC is not stimulated to grow from exposure to the female hormones estrogen or progesterone, nor through an overactive HER2 pathway.

Unfortunately, many available and effective treatment options for the majority of breast cancers block the growth stimulating effects of ER, PR and/or HER2; therefore, TNBC has limited therapeutic options. In addition, TNBC tends to be an aggressive type of cancer, tends to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage, and proportionately affects younger women more often than other breast cancers. Novel treatment options for TNBC have lagged behind that of other types of breast cancers.

About Tecentriq

Tecentriq is an agent that helps to restore the body’s immune system in fighting cancer. It creates its anti-cancer effects by blocking a specific protein that is used by cancer cells to escape an attack by the immune system, called PD-L1. Once PD-L1 is blocked, cells of the immune system are able to identify cancer cells as a threat, and initiate an attack to destroy the cancer. Tecentriq and other “checkpoint inhibitors” have been approved for the treatment of several cancers recently.

In the current clinical study evaluating Tecentriq in patients with TNBC, the most significant findings were the difference in the overall survival between patients who responded to Tecentriq and patients who did not respond, and the prolonged average duration of response; 21 months, which is substantially longer than what has been seen with other treatments. All responders were alive after one year and the one-year survival rate for nonresponders was only 38 percent.

Immune therapy with checkpoint inhibitors appears to be a promising treatment approach for individuals with TNBC whether used alone or in combination with other therapies.2,3


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