Posts tagged ‘triple-negative breast cancer’
At 29, Kommah McDowell was a successful young professional engaged to be married to her best friend. She worked in the financial services sector and kick-boxed to keep in shape and to relax. Then came the diagnosis of triple-negative inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and very aggressive form of breast cancer. She was told she had a 5 percent chance of living two years. Here’s her story …
For seven months, McDowell had been visiting her primary care doctor every other week complaining of pain, tenderness, swelling and a lump in her right breast. She was assured it was only a benign cyst that would go away – she was too young to have cancer. Finally, at McDowell’s insistence, the “cyst” was removed. During that surgery, the doctor found cancer.
“Unbelievably, the medical staff was not familiar with the type of cancer,” McDowell said. “They just knew it was cancer and the best course of action was to remove it immediately. Fortunately, I was able to go to City of Hope for a second opinion and treatment.” » Continue Reading
Triple-negative breast cancer is both aggressive and tough to fight with existing therapies, a combination that often results in the disease’s spread; in fact, most deaths related to this form of cancer occur due to metastases. New City of Hope research is targeting these metastases specifically.
Building on a platform developed at City of Hope by Karen Aboody, M.D., Rachael Mooney, Ph.D., a postdoctoral CIRM Scholar and a fellow in Aboody’s laboratory, hopes to use stem cells to deliver tiny packages of chemotherapy to breast cancer-related metastases.
Aboody’s platform involves neural stem cells that naturally home in on cancer sites in the body. These cells are modified to secrete an enzyme that activates a prodrug – a benign substance – to become a powerful cancer-killing agent locally at the tumor sites. » Continue Reading
The Women’s Cancers Program at City of Hope unites scientists from across disciplines who aim to prevent cancer, seek out better treatments and help survivors live whole, healthy lives. Led by Joanne Mortimer, M.D., the program strives to bring hope and healing to women fighting cancer. Here’s a snapshot of the current research efforts:
Predicting risk for cancer
Susan L. Neuhausen, Ph.D., the Morris & Horowitz Families Professor in Cancer Etiology and Outcomes Research, has been studying women with breast and ovarian cancers since 1992 and was part of the team that discovered the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. Now, Neuhausen and her team are collaborating with gynecologic surgeons and medical oncologists at City of Hope to investigate mutations in genes involved in the response to DNA damage.
They seek to understand how these mutations impact a woman’s risk for developing ovarian cancer and her response to treatment. Information gathered from this study will be used to develop preventive strategies and design more targeted treatments to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer recurrence.
Assessing cancer risk in underserved populations
In Hispanic women, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer, and the leading cause of cancer death. Jeffrey N. Weitzel, M.D., director of the Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics, and a team of researchers seek to understand genetic predisposition in this population. » Continue Reading
Triple-negative breast cancer is, in a way, the outlier in breast cancer research. Increasingly effective targeted treatments are now used against other breast cancers, but with no vulnerable gene target, no response to hormone therapy and a resistance to most available standard treatments, triple-negative breast cancer can be a monstrous mountain to overcome.
City of Hope researchers Karen Aboody, M.D., and Jacob Berlin, Ph.D., are collaborating to develop new therapies using neural stem cells and nanoparticles. Ultimately, such treatments may offer more options and improved treatments for women with triple-negative breast cancer — so-called because it isn’t fueled by the hormones estrogen or progesterone or by too many HER2 receptors.
» Continue Reading
The first in a series of stories asking former patients to reflect upon their experience…
During three turbulent days in 2007, Stephanie Hosford, then 37, learned that she was pregnant with her long-awaited second child – and that she had triple-negative breast cancer.
Not long after the diagnosis, Stephanie also discovered that she and her husband, Grant, had been approved to adopt a little girl from China. They proceeded with both plans to expand their family. » Continue Reading
City of Hope’s Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Cancer Biology, has studied the cancer-fighting potential of foods for decades. His early work began with mushrooms. In the years since, he’s added blueberries and pomegranates to the list.
Chen has found these foods have natural chemicals that can put the brakes on breast cancer.
Most breast cancers need estrogen to live. Breast cancer cells use the enzyme aromatase to make lots of estrogen. Chen found that mushrooms and pomegranates make compounds that block aromatase.
And blueberries may prove to be even more important. They make a chemical that can combat so-calledtriple-negative breast cancers, one of the toughest forms to treat. These tumors don’t need estrogen to grow. Worse, they remain unaffected by some of the most current and effective breast cancer drugs.
Using a concentrated extract of blueberries, Chen and his colleagues showed that triple-negative tumors could be stopped in laboratory models.
Chen recently told NBC Los Angeles about his work.
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Nearly one out of five breast cancer patients has triple-negative breast cancer — an aggressive type of tumor that often returns despite treatment. This cancer can defy conventional therapy, and breast cancer stem cells may be to blame, explains City of Hope’s George Somlo, M.D., F.A.C.P. in this video.
Somlo, co-director of City of Hope’s Breast Cancer Program, says that successful, modern therapies like Herceptin target receptors found on the surface of most breast cancer cells. But triple-negative breast cancers have none of those receptors. They can resist other drug treatments, too, because their cells appear to act like cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells can survive chemotherapy and radiation and then spread to other parts of the body.
But Somlo has joined with researchers at Stanford University to go after these stem cells. With major funding from the National Institutes of Health, the scientists are looking at triple-negative breast cancers in different ethnic groups and studying the characteristics of these cells. By understanding how the cells are different from other cancer cells and healthy breast cells, they hope to find pathways that are critical to the cells’ survival. Once they find those pathways, they can test drugs to block them.
For more about breast cancer clinical trials at City of Hope, visit Clinical Trials On-Line and select breast cancer from the menu.