The promise of immunotherapy in treating breast cancer has been extensively evaluated in women with metastatic triple negative breast cancer, says Dr. Heather McArthur, previously medical director of breast oncology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and now clinical director of the Breast Cancer Program at Simmons Cancer Center at University of Texas Southwestern.
According to Dr. McArthur, studies suggest that giving these drugs early on in the treatment of metastatic triple negative breast cancer works better than when taken after chemotherapy. Clinical trials also suggest that for women with non-metastatic triple negative breast cancer who received immunotherapy and chemotherapy before surgery, 80 percent of these women had a “pathologically complete response” at the time of surgery meaning there were no cancer cells left in the breast. These trials led to the approval of Keytruda (pembrolizumab) for treatment of early stage triple negative breast cancer. Keytruda can be used with chemotherapy before surgery and then continued alone after surgery if you are at high risk for your breast cancer returning.
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Therefore, it is exceedingly important to discuss with your physician about your HER2 status.