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Innovation Observatory > Reports > Drugs > Pembrolizumab in addition to Chemotherapy for Locally Advanced, Non-Metastatic Triple Negative Breast Cancer – neoadjuvant, first line

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Pembrolizumab in addition to Chemotherapy for Locally Advanced, Non-Metastatic Triple Negative Breast Cancer – neoadjuvant, first line

Drugs

Cancer and Palliative Care

June 2018


Breast cancer is cancer that develops from breast tissue. Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an uncommon type of breast cancer, whose cells don’t have receptors for the hormones oestrogen and progesterone and HER2 protein. Many breast cancers have receptors for one or more of these substances. But TNBC do not have any of them. When certain substances in the body attach to the receptors, they trigger a reaction in the cancer cells that tell them to grow. Therefore hormone treatment and targeted cancer drugs do not work for people with TNBC. Symptoms of this type of breast cancer may include a lump or thickening in an area of the breast, a change in the size, shape or feel of the breast, dimpling of the skin, a change in the shape of the nipple, a blood stained discharge from the nipple, a rash on a nipple or surrounding area, or a swelling lump in the armpit.
Pembrolizumab is a drug that is already used for other types of cancer, given as intravenous infusion. Pembrolizumab is a type of immunotherapy, which works by targeting specific proteins that stimulate an immune response attacking the cancer cells. It increases the body’s natural ability to identify and kill cancer cells. Pembrolizumab is being developed to be given in combination with chemotherapy as a neo-adjuvant (given before the main treatment), first line treatment for locally advanced, non-metastatic TNBC. If licensed, pembrolizumab in combination with chemotherapy will therefore offer an additional treatment option for patients with locally advanced, non-metastatic, triple negative breast cancer.

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