Georgia Cancer Center researcher receives grant to study aggressive form of breast cancer

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Augusta, GA (WJBF)- A researcher at the Georgia Cancer Center now has the money he needs to learn more about an aggressive type of breast cancer.

It’s called Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) and it’s a form of breast cancer that doesn’t respond to common treatments like hormone therapy.

The TNBC cancer cells somehow convince immune system cells not to attack them. It accounts for 10% to 15% of all breast cancers especially in African American women under 40.

The $1.76 million grant will allow researchers to study the cancer and the body’s lack of immune response to it.

“In this project I am planning to use the latest technology that looks at single cells in the tumor and single cells in the immune system. So that we can see how they are talking to each other,” said grant recipient, Dr. Hasan Korkaya.

Because the body’s immune system essentially leaves the cancer alone, women don’t experience symptoms until the cancer is far enough along to have metastasized. By then the patient’s rate of survival is only 20%.

Dr. Korkaya hopes the study may help them understand how the tumor and immune system talk to each other, possibly leading to new treatments.

“The immune system is actually working against the body. Or working for the tumor cells. So if you can eliminate that, then perhaps immunotherapy is going to work better in this patient population,” he said.

Women at most risk for this type of cancer are African American women under 40 and women who are genetically at high risk for breast cancer. Survival depends almost solely on early detection– so be sure to keep up with your yearly mammogram.

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