Fight To Improve Triple Negative Breast Cancer Survival Rates

6:02 AM, Oct 29, 2010   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Thanks to advances in detection and treatment, 9 out of 10 women who are diagnosed with breast cancer survive at least 5 years.

But for one group of women, the numbers aren't nearly as encouraging.

They have what's know as Triple Negative breast cancer.

It usually strikes younger women, especially black women, and survival rates are considerably lower.

But research into this specific type of cancer is heating up.

After surviving a bout with breast cancer, Doctor Kim Bates decided to start a family.

But just months after her son was born, Kim's cancer came back leading her to take drastic steps to control it.

She had a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, as well as a total hysterectomy.

That may seem aggressive, but as a physician, Dr. Bates knew waht she was facing. She had Triple Negative breast cancer.

That means she doesn't have any of the three hormones doctors normally target to kill breast cancer. And even though chemo seemed to work once, it might not again.

To find new therapeutics, Dr. Charles Shapiro of Ohio States Comprehensive Cancer Center is leading new research.

And one promising area involves what are know as PARP inhibitors, which can keep cancer cells from rebuilding after treatment.

For some reason, in Triple Negative cases a woman's DNA will repair a damaged cell, allowing it to survive. But PARP inhibitors short circuit that process. It's the kind of innovation Dr. Bates welcomes as a physician and a patient.

Researchers are also looking into controlling stem cells in the breast.

It's what's known as the Notch Pathway approach.

Triple Negative accounts for about 15% of all breast cancer.

It's usually diagnosed before age 50 and African American and Hispanic women are at a higher risk.