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Why Can Breast Cancer Patients Be Immune To Treatment?

Most breast cancers are estrogen receptor positive. This means, the appearance of cancer is caused by the hormone estrogen. So that the cancer does not spread, doctors will usually prescribe estrogen. However, what if breast cancer sufferers do not respond to treatment?

Why Can Breast Cancer Patients Be Immune To Treatment?

Getting to Know Hormone Therapy in Breast Cancer Patients

Hormone therapy is one of the treatments for cancer. Therapy can be done if the type of cancer being suffered is estrogen receptor positive (ER positive) or progesterone positive (PR positive). Both types of cancer are caused by the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

To find out the type of cancer you are suffering from, the doctor will analyze your blood and body tissues. This aims to see if the cancer cells have estrogen or progesterone receptors.

Only then can it be concluded whether the cancer is classified as ER positive or PR positive.

The goals of hormone therapy for breast cancer include:

  • Prevent the reappearance of cancer.
  • Reducing the risk of cancer to develop in other breast tissue.
  • Reducing the size of the tumor before surgery is performed.
  • Slow or stop the growth of cancer that has spread.

Also Read: Regular Yogurt Consumption Lowers Breast Cancer Risk?

In the case of breast cancer, studies have found that about 70 percent of cases are estrogen receptor positive (ER positive). This means, estrogen hormone therapy can be given as a treatment.

Commonly used therapeutic drugs viz tamoxifen And fullestrant. These types of drugs can help lower hormone levels or block estrogen receptors so the cancer doesn’t spread. This therapy is known as endocrine therapy.

Why Don’t Therapies Work on Breast Cancer?

Research published in journals Future Medicinal Chemistry reveal the facts about endocrine therapy in breast cancer patients.

According to the study, a third of breast cancer survivors are immune to treatment. This condition adversely affects the chances of survival.

Researchers still cannot explain with certainty the reasons behind patients’ resistance to these therapies.

However, experts from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute reveal the causes of endocrine therapy not working in some breast cancer sufferers. This is caused by certain gene mutations make cancer cells not respond well to treatment.

Also Read: Is it true that frequent use of deodorant triggers breast cancer?

The findings may eventually lead to more effective approaches for patients who do not respond well to treatment.

Meanwhile, previous studies have found that the cause of the therapy not working well is a mutation in the estrogen receptor gene in cancer cells.

The researchers performed an analysis of the mutations in the laboratory using estrogen-positive breast cancer samples. The results found that these mutations cause cancer to become resistant to drugs tamoxifen And fullestrant.

Genetic mutations have the potential to cause cancer to adapt to low levels of estrogen in the body. In addition, mutations can also increase the risk of cancer spreading to other tissues.

Also Read: 8 Common to Rare Types of Breast Cancer

Combination Therapy for Treatment-Resistant Sufferers

After learning about the effect of the mutation on breast cancer, the researchers turned to a modern gene, CRISPR-Cas9. This action was carried out to determine with certainty the gene associated with the estrogen receptor.

As a result, a special gene, called CDK7, is thought to be a target for new cancer treatments.

Regarding CDK7 therapy for breast cancer patients resistant to endocrine therapy treatment, previous studies have analyzed this. As a result, the combination of THZ1 and the drug fulvestrant is effective in treating ER positive breast cancer cells and significantly slowing cancer growth.

This is what makes some experts believe that, a combination of several therapies could be an effective treatment in ER positive breast cancer patients who are resistant to treatment.

  1. Anonymous. 2020. Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer. (Accessed 13 February 2023).
  2. Cohut, Maria. 2018. Why Do Some Breast Cancers Become Treatment-Resistant? (Accessed 13 February 2023).
  3. Fan, Weimin, et al. 2015. Endocrine Therapy Resistance in Breast Cancer: Current Status, Possible Mechanisms and Overcoming Strategies. (Accessed 13 February 2023).
  4. Jeselsohn, Rinath, et al. 2018. Allele-Specific Chromatin Recruitment and Therapeutic Vulnerabilities of ESR1 Activating Mutations. (Accessed 13 February 2023).

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