Friday, May 24, 2024

Breakthrough Study: Immune Cell Levels Linked to Lower Relapse Risk in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

A groundbreaking study led by the University of Gothenburg reveals that women with triple-negative breast cancer exhibiting high immune cell counts in their tumors are less likely to experience a relapse post-surgery, potentially bypassing the need for chemotherapy. This discovery sheds light on new possibilities for treatment protocols.

Innovative Research Findings:

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, along with twelve international teams across three continents, have provided new hope for those affected by triple-negative breast cancer. Their recent publication in the prestigious journal JAMA highlights how high levels of immune cells, specifically tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, in the tumors significantly enhance survival prospects without the use of cytostatics.

Demographic and Clinical Context:

Triple-negative breast cancer, which makes up about 15% of breast cancer cases globally, disproportionately affects younger women and is more prevalent among African American, Hispanic, and Indian populations. In Sweden, it leads to approximately one thousand diagnoses annually. This cancer type is particularly aggressive, with a high tendency to metastasize and recur post-treatment due to the absence of three specific receptors that limit therapeutic options.

Statistical Insights and Survival Rates:

The study analyzed 1,966 individuals with early-stage triple-negative breast cancer who had small, localized tumors treated with surgery and radiation but not chemotherapy. Remarkably, five years after surgery, the survival rate was 95% for participants with high immune cell levels, compared to 82% for those with lower levels.

Implications for Treatment Approaches:

Current protocols typically include cytostatics as part of the standard treatment regimen, even for smaller tumors. However, the findings suggest that patients with naturally high immune cell counts might have a very favorable prognosis even without such intensive treatments, as outlined by Barbro Linderholm, the lead researcher and a senior physician at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

Call for Further Research:

Although the method for measuring immune cell levels is straightforward and economical, suitable for regular pathology labs, further studies are needed to validate these findings and potentially incorporate them into clinical practice. The research team advocates for more extensive clinical trials to confirm whether avoiding cytostatics in certain cases could become a viable treatment strategy.


The study not only opens a new chapter in understanding the dynamics between the immune system and cancer progression but also highlights the potential for less invasive treatment options for patients with triple-negative breast cancer. As further research unfolds, this could lead to significant changes in how this challenging cancer type is treated worldwide.

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