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Immune Cells in Tumors Predict Responses in Breast Cancer

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Among patients with certain types of breast cancer, the presence of immune cells within the tumor can help predict responses to early therapy. These results were recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Harnessing the body’s own immune system is rapidly becoming a standard therapeutic approach in the treatment of several different types of cancer. Researchers also continue to evaluate the ability to predict responses to therapy through the presence of specific immune cells within the tumor. Often, the presence of immune cells represents the idea that at least some cells in the body’s immune system have recognized the cancer as foreign and is attempting to attack the cancer cells.

Researchers recently further evaluated the prediction of very specific immune cells on their response to a specific chemotherapy agent. Studies such as these will help to personalize treatment strategies so that optimal treatment combinations can be used with each patient.

A recent study further evaluated how well immune cells in tumors predicted treatment. The study consisted of 580 tumors from breast cancers that were human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive and triple-negative (TN) breast cancers. The researchers conducted studies to determine which immune cells were existent in the tumor samples and whether they could predict the anti-cancer responses to the addition of the chemotherapy agent carboplatin to the combination of an anthracycline-taxane containing regimen.

Overall, 12 types of immune cells predicted complete anti-cancer responses with the addition of carboplatin to the regimen.
The researchers concluded that specific immune cells found within breast cancer tumors can predict anti-cancer responses to the addition of carboplatin. The authors concluded that “after further standardization, [these tests] could be included in the histopathologic assessment of breast cancer.”

Reference: Denkert C, von Minckwitz G, Brase J, et al. Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy with or without carboplatin in human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive and triple-negative primary breast cancers. Journal of Clinical Oncology. http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/early/2014/12/22/JCO.2014.58.1967