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Prolactin May Hold Key To Triple Negative Breast Cancer
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The American Cancer Society estimates more than 252,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the coming year. While many of those women will find they have highly treatable forms of the disease, that is simply not always the case. One form in particular continues to be especially difficult to treat despite recent major advances in breast cancer care. Triple negative breast cancer is considered the most aggressive form of breast cancer. Researchers are finding, however, that a particular hormone’s presence or absence may play a role in just how aggressive triple negative breast cancer, or TNBC, happens to be.
The hormone in question is called prolactin. It is developed in the pituitary gland and serves the primary role of helping a woman produce and maintain breast milk. A recent study involving nearly 600 women with TNBC found that those who displayed the prolactin receptor had prolonged survival. In addition, the aggressive nature of their cancer cells appeared to be reduced. The researchers ultimately found that women with the receptor had a better prognosis than their counterparts who did not display the receptor.
The study’s findings are leading some to believe that screening for the prolactin receptor in women who test positive for TNBC might help guide treatments down the road. The use of this hormone as a treatment may one day serve to help women fight this disease while enabling some to avoid overly aggressive treatments.
The study adds to a growing body of evidence that prolactin may have a positive effect on breast cancer. The research also shows that breastfeeding may serve in a protective role against breast cancer since this act naturally enhances prolactin levels in a woman’s body.
While more research is necessary to better understand prolactin’s role in TNBC, the findings so far are promising. Should the prolactin receptor prove to serve a protective role, more women may find their doctors recommending breastfeeding to lower their risks for breast cancer. In addition, the hormone may one day play a role in treatment of breast cancer.
Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are urged to talk to their doctors about all treatment options. The best recommendations will be based on the specific type of cancer found. Since all women are at risk for the development of breast cancer, it is also strongly recommended that women talk to their doctors about routine screening. Early detection of breast cancer can lead to highly successful outcomes in many cases.
Lewisville/Flower Mound Oncology Group, a division of Choice Cancer Care – is an independently owned and operated oncology practice that is completely focused on unique, comprehensive patient care.
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