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Doctors hope experimental drug combo will increase immune response to breast cancer

RICHMOND, Va. -- Sometimes chemotherapy cannot be avoided when treating breast cancer.

As a result, VCU Massey Cancer Center doctors conducting a trial using an experimental drug combo to make chemo work better for the patient.

“We’re going to find out a lot about what happens to the cancer when use these treatments,” Dr. Harry Bear with VCU Massey Cancer Center said.

Massey doctors are recruiting patients to see if an experimental drug combo could improve the immune system's reaction to breast cancer -- basically destroying the cancer cells.

The combo treatment of the two drugs, Pembrolizumab and Decitabine, is given four weeks before chemotherapy begins.

“The idea behind the trial is to use two drugs to try and increase the immune response in the tumor and then start the chemotherapy,” Dr. Bear said.

Doctors are watching to see what the drug combo treatment will do to the tumor.

A biopsy would be done before and after that combo treatment.

"The idea is to see if we can increase the white blood cells reaction to the tumor then the chemotherapy would work that much better,” Dr. Bear explained.

For this study, doctors are looking for almost 50, newly diagnosed breast cancer patients with HER 2 negative breast cancer.

If you want to participate in this trial, you can call the VCU Massey Cancer Center clinical research team at 804-628-9238.

Click here for more information about the trial.

Reba Hollingsworth and Stephanie Rochon

Reba Hollingsworth and Stephanie Rochon

On the 6th of the month, CBS 6 and VCU Massey Cancer Center remind women to contact their buddy to remind them to conduct a monthly breast self-exam. If it is time, you should also schedule an annual clinical breast exam and mammogram, which are key to early detection.