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A key to unlocking the mystery of triple negative breast cancer

RI-MUHC research could lead to new breast cancer treatments linked to prolactin receptor

Oct 24, 2016

A study conducted at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) suggests screening breast cancer patients for the prolactin receptor could improve the prognosis for patient and may help them avoid unnecessary and invasive treatments. Using a database of 580 women with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), the researchers found that survival was prolonged in patients who expressed the prolactin receptor and that prolactin hormone was able to reduce the aggressive behavior of cancerous cells. It does so by decreasing their ability to divide and form new tumors. The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports-Nature.

TNBC refers to a tumor that is estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative and HER2-negative. "TNBC is the most aggressive type of breast cancer and it is very difficult to treat,” explains Dr. Ali, a researcher from the Cancer Research Program at the RI-MUHC and lead author of the study. “While prognosis and treatment options for breast cancer patients as a whole have improved in recent decades, this is not true for women who develop TNBC – they still have limited options for targeted treatment strategies, often require invasive chemotherapy and have a poor prognosis.” Read more