Prolactin receptor level may offer new treatment options for Triple-negative breast cancer

Emobileclinic Researchers Corner




The Journal of Scientific Reports has published the finding of researchers from McGill University in Canada who found that conducting screening for prolactin receptor may offer possible treatment for triple-negative breast cancer. Triple-negative breast cancer is an aggressive disease.


A diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer implies the tumor does not have the three most common types of receptor known to stimulate most breast cancer growth. These receptors are: estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).

About 15 percent breast cancer case is triple-negative. However, it is mostly characterized with a high rate of recurrence and poor patient result
Prof. Suhad Ali explains that triple-negative breast cancer is very difficult to manage because of the limited targeted treatment option when compared with other forms of breast cancer. Invasive chemotherapy is the only available treatment which mostly report poor outcomes.
The team analyzed data on 580 women with triple-negative breast cancer and discovered that there was prolonged survival in those whose tumors expressed the prolactin receptor. Also, it was found that prolactin hormone decreased the ability of cancer cells to divide and create new tumors.

The study was conducted with a preclinical animal model, it was revealed that the cancer cells in tumors with no prolactin receptor were not only more aggressive but they also divided more frequently and more invasive compared with those in tumors that had the receptor.
Prof. Ali notes that the role of prolactin in breast cancer is yet to be fully comprehended and remains controversial. Further study on the hormone could affect the advice doctors give patients at high risk for breast cancer – for instance, about using breast-feeding to protect against the disease.
Notwithstanding, Prof. Ali says their findings agree with previous studies that say prolactin has a protective effect against breast cancer and since breast-feeding is a natural means of secreting the hormone in large quantities it may well lower women’s risk for the disease.
This is why Prof. Ali remarks that “the results suggest that screening for the prolactin receptor could indicate which patients might benefit from prolactin treatment as a single agent, or in combination with less aggressive chemotherapy. We think this could be a revolutionary path to developing new treatments for breast cancer.”

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