There was some good news for patients with triple-negative breast (TNBC) cancer recently. Following extensive review, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the immunotherapy drug Keyturda for treatment for early TNBC in combination with chemotherapy.
Triple-Negative breast cancer accounts for about 10-20% of all breast cancers. TNBC is not fueled by estrogen, progesterone, or the HER2 protein like most other breast cancer types. This means TNBC does not respond to hormone therapy.
Keytruda (pembrolizumab) is classified as an immunotherapy and is used a lot in the medical field to treat other forms of cancers. Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy that triggers your own immune system to attack disease. Immunotherapy drugs have been approved to treat many types of cancer. However, it is not used as frequently as traditional treatment options such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy, or more typically, a combination of these.
Trial data from over 1,000 patients showed that Keytruda, in combination with chemotherapy before surgery and then used as a monotherapy after surgery, helped prolong “event-free survival”. This combination therapy using immunotherapy is the first of its kind to be approved for patients with early-stage TNBC by the FDA.