Breast cancer immunotherapy: Facts and hopes

Leisha A. Emens

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


Immunotherapy is revolutionizing the management of multiple solid tumors, and early data have revealed the clinical activity of programmed cell death-1/programmed death ligand-1 (PD-1/ PD-L1) antagonists in small numbers of patients with metastatic breast cancer. Clinical activity appears more likely if the tumor is triple negative, PD-L1þ, and/or harbors higher levels of tumor-infiltrating leukocytes. Responses to atezolizumab and pembrolizumab appear to be durable in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), suggesting that these agents may transform the lives of responding patients. Current clinical efforts are focused on developing immunotherapy combinations that convert nonresponders to responders, deepen those responses that do occur, and surmount acquired resistance to immunotherapy. Identifying biomarkers that can predict the potential for response to single-agent immunotherapy, identify the best immunotherapy combinations for a particular patient, and guide salvage immunotherapy in patients with progressive disease are high priorities for clinical development. Smart clinical trials testing rational immunotherapy combinations that include robust biomarker evaluations will accelerate clinical progress, moving us closer to effective immunotherapy for almost all patients with breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-520
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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