SEATTLE. (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) - Triple negative breast cancer accounts for about 15 percent of all new breast cancer cases in the U.S., but it leads to 25 percent of all breast cancer deaths. A diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer means that the three most common types of receptors known to fuel most breast cancer growth are not present in the cancer tumor. It's an aggressive cancer that, until now, has only been treated with standard chemo. Now, a new therapy is offering patients hope for the first time.
Eight years ago, Brenda Beguin was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. Three years ago, it came back.
Benguin enrolled in a clinical trial testing new therapies for triple negative cancer.
"Right now, the only treatment we have for triple negative breast cancer is chemotherapy," Julie R. Gralow, MD, Director, Breast Medical Oncology, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, says.
Doctors are now studying PARP inhibitors to prevent cancer cells from becoming resistant to chemo.
One other study found triple negative patients with advanced cancer who took the drugs with chemo survived about five months longer than those who received chemo only, with very few side effects.
Today, Benguin only takes the PARP drug.
"I feel it has saved my life," she says.
Dr. Gralow says one downside of the PARP inhibitors is they are very expensive. While still in clinical trials, she estimates they might cost between $2,000 and $10,000 a month, if they hit the market.
The next step for this research is a larger clinical trial that will test the drug on more patients. During the clinical trial, patients get the drug for free.