First Immunotherapy Approved for Breast Cancer Treatment

Author: Courtesy of Cleveland Clinic

Published: 6:56 AM EDT March 16, 2019

Updated: 6:56 AM EDT March 16, 2019

Cleveland – Immunotherapy has been a game-changer for treating cancers such as melanoma, lung cancer and bladder cancer. Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first-ever combination of an immunotherapy drug (atezolizumab), plus chemotherapy (nabpaclitaxel) for treating breast cancer.

Jame Abraham, M.D., an oncologist at Cleveland Clinic, said this new treatment is an option for some women who have been diagnosed with metastatic ‘triple-negative’ breast cancer. “This is not for all patients; it’s for patients with metastatic breast cancer – meaning the cancer has already left the breast and spread to another part of the body – and even within metastatic breast cancer, it’s specifically for triple-negative breast cancer,” he said. 

About 15 percent of breast cancers are diagnosed as triple negative – an aggressive form of the disease that does not respond well to traditional treatments. The FDA approval comes after recent research showed this specific combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy can be effective in reducing the spread of stage four triple negative breast cancer – helping women live longer without cancer.

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