Researchers From Around the World Gather to Discuss Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:01am EST

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Researchers From Around the World Gather to Discuss Triple Negative Breast
Aggressive Subtype of Breast Cancer is Hard to Treat and Occurs Most Often in
Young Women, African American Women

SAN ANTONIO, Dec. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- The Triple Negative Breast Cancer
Foundation (TNBC), and Susan G. Komen for the Cure convened one of the first
"think tanks" dedicated specifically to triple negative breast cancer, a
particularly aggressive and difficult-to-treat form of the disease. The
meeting was held prior to the opening of the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer
    Thirty researchers, from leading cancer institutions in North America and
Europe, were invited to share information on the latest science, to discuss
potential research collaborations and develop a scientific agenda for future
research and clinical trials to find effective treatment for women with this
subtype of breast cancer. The meeting also marked the first joint effort
between Komen for the Cure and TNBC to share resources to accelerate research
and progress for these women who are not benefiting from recent advances.
    Research shared at the "think tank" showed that approximately 15 percent
of breast cancer cases can be categorized as triple negative, but incidence
rates among African American women, especially younger African American women,
are significantly higher. These tumors lack the three receptors shown to fuel
most breast cancers -- estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and human
epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) -- and generally do not respond to
receptor-targeted treatments.
    "We've made significant advances for many patients by using hormonal
therapies for women with estrogen and progesterone positive breast cancers and
new targeted therapies for women with HER2 positive breast cancer, as we'll
all see in presentations at the San Antonio meeting over the next several
days," explained Eric P. Winer, M.D., director of the Breast Oncology Center
at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Komen's chief scientific advisor. "The
focus on triple negative breast cancer is recent and there is very little
known about its pathology and how treatment decisions should be made for these
    Discussions at Tuesday's roundtable centered around the need to more
accurately define and diagnose triple negative breast cancer, as well as the
need to focus on the epidemiology and risk factors for this subset of the
    Participants also discussed recent clinical trials that demonstrated that
some women with this type of the disease may be benefiting more from standard
chemotherapy than the broader group of patients and also discussed the need
for future trials to look at which drugs produce more benefit for these
patients and potentially which drugs may not help them at all. These results
could lead to wider use of existing therapies for these women and could spare
others from standard treatment that has not been shown to benefit them.
    The group also engaged in discussions about clinical trial design and how
newer targeted therapies will need to show specifically how, and if, women
with "triple negative" tumors benefit. As this subtype of disease
disproportionately affects African American women and is also being diagnosed
in younger Hispanic women, new trials will need criteria to ensure that these
populations are represented in future "triple negative" research. The role
that patient advocacy groups, such as TNBC and Komen, will need to play in
educating patients about the existence of "triple negative" breast cancer and
the importance of participating in clinical research to identify more
effective treatments for it was another topic of discussion.
    The goal of the meeting was to create the first comprehensive publication
and white-paper summarizing the "state of the science" with input and
authorship from leading researchers from around the world who have been
dedicated specifically to this subtype of the disease.  The publication will
also include a roadmap and recommendations for planning, funding and designing
the next level of research with the goal of identifying effective, tailored
therapies for these women, thereby further reducing the rates of breast cancer
mortality around the world.
    Co-chairing the symposium were Allison Axenrod, executive director of
TNBC, and Hayley Dinerman, TNBC's director of operations. The program was
planned by TNBC's medical advisory board, which includes Dr. Winer as well as
Lisa A. Carey, M.D., medical director of the University of North Carolina
Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and George W. Sledge, Jr., MD,
professor of Medicine and Pathology and co-chair of the Breast Cancer Program
at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
    About Susan G. Komen for the Cure
    Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do
everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise
became Susan G. Komen for the Cure and launched the global breast cancer
movement. Today, Komen for the Cure is the world's largest grassroots network
of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower
people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures.
Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure, we have invested nearly $1
billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds
dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world. For more
information about Susan G. Komen for the Cure, breast health or breast cancer,
visit or call 1-877 GO KOMEN.
    About Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation
    Launched in 2006 in honor of Nancy Block-Zenna, a young mother who was
diagnosed at age 35 with triple negative breast cancer and died less than
three years later, the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation focuses on
raising awareness and supporting research to find a cure for the disease. TNBC
is also planning to contribute a significant portion of their donations to
fund triple negative research through a planned collaboration with Susan G.
Komen for the Cure's internationally-recognized peer reviewed research grants
program. For more information about TNBC or "triple negative" breast cancer,
visit or call 646-942-0242.
SOURCE  Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Emily Callahan of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, +1-972-855-1607,; or Allison Axenrod of Triple Negative Breast Cancer
Foundation, +1-646-942-0242,
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