Immunotherapy is a breakthrough that gives new hope to people with breast cancer, especially when other treatments fail.
At Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, we offer access to new and promising immunotherapy drugs. As an academic center, our breast cancer team develops personalized treatment plans based on leading-edge research. We provide unmatched expertise and the latest breast cancer treatments in a community setting.
What Is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy triggers a patient’s own immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells. It’s a systemic medication, traveling through the bloodstream to reach all areas of the body. Immunotherapy and chemotherapy are often given in combination.
The FDA approved the first immunotherapy drug for breast cancer in 2019. Now, researchers continue to develop new immunotherapy drugs and novel ways to use existing drugs to target specific proteins found on some breast cancer cells.
Immunotherapy for Breast Cancer: The Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Advantage
We offer comprehensive breast cancer care for every type and stage of breast cancer. Whenever possible, our oncologists offer you the latest treatments in addition to standard approaches. At Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, you’ll find:
- Personalized diagnosis: We use advanced imaging and testing to learn everything we can about each breast cancer tumor. Our oncologists use that precise diagnose to create a tailored and effective treatment plan. Learn more about how we diagnose breast cancer.
- Access to innovative therapies: As an academic center, we provide access to clinical trials offered in Lancaster and at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia. Your treatment may include new and promising targeted therapies not widely available.
- Team approach: Your care team includes specialists from every aspect of breast cancer care. They coordinate your treatment and offer high-level breast expertise. Meet our breast cancer team.
- Supportive care: Our support services help alleviate any discomfort associated with your treatment. Our oncology-certified nurse navigators can connect you with financial assistance, social services and resources for other non-medical concerns.
- Care close to home: We make expert cancer care convenient. You’ll receive breast cancer therapies in Lancaster at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute. Learn more about our other breast cancer care locations.
How We Treat Breast Cancer With Immunotherapy Drugs
At Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, we test breast tumors to determine whether immunotherapy will work. Our expert medical oncologists treat certain types of breast cancer with immunotherapy drugs called immune checkpoint inhibitors. We also offer access to promising immunotherapy medication through clinical trials.
Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
Immune cells called T-cells identify foreign cells to attack by assessing the proteins (checkpoints) found on the foreign cells. Some cancer cells have checkpoints that make them appear normal, such as the PD-L1 protein, “tricking” the immune cells into not attacking. Checkpoint inhibitors work by blocking those proteins on cancer cells so that immune cells recognize and destroy them.
In 2019, the FDA approved the first checkpoint inhibitor for the treatment of breast cancer. New immunotherapy drugs are constantly in development. Our medical oncologists use immunotherapy drugs to treat triple negative, metastatic breast cancer in patients whose tumors express the PD-L1 protein. We’ll recommend the latest and most appropriate drugs for you.
Immunotherapy Research at Penn Medicine
Researchers continue to study the use of immunotherapy for treating breast cancer. Penn Medicine is part of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, a collaboration of the nation’s top six academic cancer centers. This partnership provides resources and data that fuel advanced immunotherapy research.
As we test new therapies, you may have access to promising treatments you won’t find everywhere else. In addition to standard treatments, your cancer team presents appropriate clinical trials whenever appropriate. Learn more about breast cancer research and clinical trials.
Request an Appointment for Request an Appointment for Breast Cancer Immunotherapy
To make an appointment at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute, call 717-544-9400 or request a callback using our online form.