Breast Cancer - Metaplastic: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 08/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of cancer and how to treat it. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Doctors are working to learn more about metaplastic breast cancer, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease.

Most current clinical trials require a tumor sample to check if the specific treatment being studied has a higher chance of targeting the specific cancer. Testing of the tumor sample is usually needed to look for specific proteins, receptors, or genetic changes in the tumor cells. When making treatment decisions, talk with your health care team to make sure your original tumor sample is available in case you eventually choose to participate in a clinical trial. If you are diagnosed with recurrent cancer, check that a biopsy of the recurrent cancer is performed and saved for future possible testing.

The following areas of research include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.

Targeted therapy. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells while limiting damage to healthy cells. Researchers are studying drugs that target a number of different receptors or proteins, which when mutated or changed may be involved in the development of cancer.

Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, is designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses materials made either by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function. Researchers are looking at drugs that target the immune system to help the body respond appropriately to the cancer.

Surgery. New surgical methods that save tissue or prevent scarring are being tested in clinical trials.

Radiation therapy. Improved ways to give radiation therapy are being studied as a way to lower the risk of side effects.

Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current breast cancer treatments in order to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.

Looking for More about the Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding breast cancer, explore these related items:

The next section addresses how to cope with the symptoms of the disease or the side effects of its treatment. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Coping with Side Effects, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.