Immunotherapy continues to show promise for cancer treatment. Not only does it have fewer side effects than chemotherapy, but it’s proven to be significantly successful for many patients. Currently, immunotherapy is being administered to patients with leukemia, lung cancer, prostate cancer and other forms of cancer. And, for Regional Cancer Care Associates patients with breast cancer, there may be new hope on the horizon.
According to the Cancer Research Institute, breast cancer is one of the top types of cancer for which immunotherapy is being developed. As advances are made, patients all around the country, including those right here in New Jersey, have the opportunity to enroll in clinical trials and get access to the latest immunotherapies as they become available.
Right now, RCCA offers hundreds of ongoing clinical trials, many of which are related to immunotherapy. Several different types of investigational treatments are available via clinical trials to patients with breast cancer, including:
Some clinical trials are more suited for certain patients than for others. That’s because each person’s cancer progresses differently and has unique gene expressions that make it difficult to find a one-size-fits-all treatment.
For example, many of these treatments are only effective for breast cancers that over-express the HER2 protein receptor, which accounts for about 20% of all breast cancers. In 2012, the FDA approved a treatment called pertuzumab to be used in combination with trastuzumab and chemotherapy to fight this type of tumor. However, even though immunotherapy helps a variety of patients, these approved methods are still not effective for many others.
This past summer, research from the American Society of Clinical Oncology revealed that many breast cancer patients can skip chemotherapy altogether and only use combinations of surgery and other treatment methods, like immunotherapy, to achieve positive outcomes. In cases where traditional methods may be ineffective, advancements in immunotherapy research like this one help give patients with breast cancer a fighting chance.
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Regional Cancer Care Associates is one of fewer than 200 medical practices in the country selected to participate in the Oncology Care Model (OCM); a recent Medicare initiative aimed at improving care coordination and access to and quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries undergoing chemotherapy treatment.