By: Paul Song
December 22, 2016 0 874
Of all the subtypes of breast cancer, the one patients and physicians fear most is triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). This cancer does not express estrogen, progesterone, or HER-2 receptors and therefore cannot be treated with any existing targeted therapies. TNBC represents less than 20 percent of the quarter-million new breast cancer cases seen in the United States each year, but it is considered the most aggressive, with lower five-year survival rates than most forms of breast cancer and high rates of metastatic disease.
There is currently no known tumor marker or effective means to monitor TNBC patients post-treatment. As a result, physicians can detect recurrence only once it is already clinically present, many times in vital visceral organs, which portends a very poor prognosis. Patients and doctors alike desperately need better detection tools and more personalized information, along with improved therapeutics, to get through this terrifying journey.
Fortunately, there is a promising new approach under investigation that may ultimately lead to earlier detection of recurrence and overall improved outcomes through a more complete utilization of liquid biopsies. It involves implementing a test that measures natural killer cell activity in addition to looking at the markers typically found in liquid biopsies. When taken together, all of this information may provide an effective tool for earlier identification of recurrence and better overall understanding of the current disease situation. This will lead to the identification of new biomarkers and therapeutic targets, and provide a more actionable list of treatment options.