When a person is diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the first things to determine is what “subtype” of breast cancer it is. The tumor can be classified as possessing estrogen and/or progesterone receptors (proteins on the cell surface) or having the presence of the HER2 protein (a growth promoting receptor).
These markers help doctors decide what type of treatment will be most effective for a particular tumor. For instance, therapies such as anti-estrogens (tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors are examples) are widely used to treat breast cancers that are hormone receptor-positive (HR+) breast cancers . Similarly, Herceptin®, lapatinib, pertuzumab and TDM1 are used to treat HER2-positive breast cancers. These are called targeted therapies because they work by “targeting” and shutting down a specific protein on the tumor cell that is helping the tumor to grow.
However, 15-20 percent of breast cancers do not have any of these proteins. These are called triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC) and currently, there are no targeted therapies for this disease.
TNBC disproportionately affects young women diagnosed with breast cancer and women of African ancestry and therefore contributes to health disparities. Additionally, scientists are discovering that TNBC is not just one type of breast cancer but includes other subtypes with unique genetic, molecular and biological characteristics.
The complexity of this disease presents enormous challenges in its treatment and prevention, but progress is being made. In 2015-16 BCRF committed more than $4 million to research projects with a primary focus in TNBC. In total, over 57 projects (more than $15 million) include studies that are relevant to TNBC.
BCRF is supporting research in TNBC on all fronts including:
Some highlights from the 2015-16 research portfolio include:
BCRF remains committed to ending all forms of breast cancer and reducing the pain and suffering for patients, their families and loved ones. Only research will get us to the end of breast cancer.
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Breast Cancer Research Foundation28 West 44th Street, Suite 609, New York, NY 10036
General Office: 646-497-2600 | Toll Free: firstname.lastname@example.org | BCRF is a 501 (c)(3) | EIN: 13-3727250