According to a presentation at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, breast cancer tumors that have high levels of certain white blood cells give patients both better prognoses and better outcomes than those with low levels.
According to Sherene Loi, M.D., Ph.D., head of the Translational Breast Cancer Genomics Lab at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia, those patients whose tumors have higher levels of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes have better prognoses than patients without high levels.
A 'positive relationship'
Loi and colleagues found that for every 10 percent increase in the levels of so-called stromal tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in the cancerous tissue, there was a corresponding 16 percent increase in the chance that the patient will have a complete response (CR) to therapy:
Our new data further support the positive relationship between tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and better outcomes with trastuzumab therapy, this time in a cohort of patients with newly diagnosed HER2-positive breast cancer who received the therapy before surgery. It seems that levels of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes may be a good biomarker of response to trastuzumab in primary breast cancer, something that researchers have been looking for with little success for some time.
Their research is derived from having analyzed breast cancer tissues from 445 women. They determined that almost half of those with high levels of the lymphocytes achieved complete response, compared to just over 31 percent in the remainder of the women.
What the findings show is that the immune system does influence outcome, but the question they could not answer is why some patients have high levels of the white blood cells in their tumors and others do not. Nonetheless, this could serve as a potential predictive biomarker in breast cancer treatment for some women.
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