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How Does Breast Cancer Affect The Immune System

Q: What Are The Recommendations For Retesting Of Covid

Radiation, How Does It Affect My Immune System

It is unclear how long a delay after the infection has resolved may be necessary before beginning or restarting cancer treatment. Treatment should not be resumed until the symptoms of COVID-19 have resolved and there is some certainty the virus is no longer present, specifically, a negative SARS-Cov-2 test, unless the cancer is rapidly progressing and the risk-benefit assessment favors proceeding with cancer treatment.

Should I Get A Third Dose Of The Covid

People with certain cancers or who are receiving treatment that suppresses the immune system may have a weaker response to COVID-19 vaccines than people whose immune systems are not compromised.

CDC recommends that people whose immune systems are moderately to severely compromised and who received two doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine receive a third dose of the same vaccine. According to CDC, such people include those who:

  • Are being treated for blood cancer
  • Have received a stem cell transplant within the past 2 years
  • Are taking medicine that may suppress your immune response

At this time, there is not enough data to recommend an additional dose for people who received Johnson & Johnsons Janssen vaccine.

Visit CDCs website for more information about COVID-19 vaccines for immunocompromised people, and ask your doctor if you should get an additional dose.

Immunologic Consequences Of Conventional Breast Cancer Treatment

Immunologic Effects of Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy

Cyclophosphamide-methotrexate-5-fluorouracil chemotherapy regimens have been shown to significantly decrease both spontaneous and IFN-stimulated NK cell activities. NK cell activity against the K562 cell line in patients who had received adjuvant chemotherapy combined with radiotherapy was significantly lower than that of patients after radiotherapy alone or that of healthy controls. Tsavaris and colleagues studied the immunologic effects of taxane-based chemotherapy on 30 women with advanced breast cancer. Sera were collected before the start of chemotherapy and after the last treatment cycle and were compared with those from healthy controls. Compared with healthy controls, these breast cancer patients had depressed. NK cell LAK cytotoxicity and depressed GM-CSF, IL-2, IL-6, and TNF-. Both paditaxel and docetaxel increased NK and LAK cell activity and increased IL-6, GM-CSF, and IFN- levels while decreasing IL-1 and TNF- levels. A better clinical response in these metastatic breast cancer patients was associated with greater increases in serum IFN-, IL-2, IL-6, and GM-CSF cytokine levels and enhancement of peripheral blood mononuclear cell NK and LAK cell activity.

Immunologic Disorders Associated with Breast Cancer Treatment

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How Chemotherapy Affects The Immune System

Chemotherapy is the cancer treatment most likely to weaken the immune system. Chemotherapy medicines target rapidly dividing cells, which cancer cells are but so are many of the normal cells in your blood, bone marrow, mouth, intestinal tract, nose, nails, vagina, and hair. So chemotherapy affects them, too. Cancer cells are destroyed by chemotherapy because they cant repair themselves very well. Your healthy cells typically can repair the damage from chemotherapy once treatment ends.

As chemotherapy medicines damage the bone marrow, the marrow is less able to produce enough red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Typically, the greatest impact is on white blood cells. When you dont have enough white blood cells, your body is more vulnerable to infection.

Although most chemotherapy medications can have an impact on your immune system, how much of an impact depends on many factors, such as:

  • which medicines youre taking and in what combination having two or three at once is more likely to affect the immune system than having one
  • how much medicine is given and how often medicine is given
  • how long treatment lasts
  • your age and overall health
  • other medical conditions you have

Immunologic Markers And Cancer: Does Immune System Function Prevent Primary Or Relapsed Breast Cancer

Breast cancer and COVID

NK Cells

Evidence suggests that NK cells play an important role in prevention of both early and metastatic cancer. Some breast cancer patients lack NK cell activity against K562 target cells. NK cell activity levels are lower in women with positive nodal disease compared with node-negative women, 18% versus 31% lytic activity, respectively. NK cell activity cytotoxicity was significantly lower in individuals with a high familial incidence of cancer compared with individuals with a low incidence of cancer. Patients with head and neck cancers with NK cell activity less than 60 lytic units were more likely to develop distant metastatic disease than similar patients with LU > 60.

Although NK cell activity may be associated with factors related to cancer initiation and survival, few data address the question of whether enhancement of NK cell activity is of clinical benefit in cancer patients, let alone the question of whether modulation of NK cell activity in humans is achievable. Some tantalizing data have emerged from leukemia oncology. Remission in pediatric leukemia patients has been shown to be correlated with cytotoxic in vitro NK cell activity. It is interesting to note that some integrated cancer clinics are offering NK cell therapy based on autologous ex vivo expansion with later reinfusion. Assessment of this immune therapy strategy awaits prospective outcomes and clinical trial results.

T-Cell Cytokines and Breast Cancer

T Reg Cells and Breast Cancer


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Direct Suppression/inactivation Of Oxygen Radicals:

One other important alteration by nitric oxide in immune suppression in relation to oxygen radicals is its inhibitory effect on the binding of leukocytes at the endothelial surface. This is normally an early stage for toxicity against bacteria, or foreign substances. However, this inability of binding alters this form of toxicity too.

Inhibition of inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase : In macrophages, leukocytes and T-killer cells, the production of a fast generated NO from iNOS causes a very fast reaction with superoxide radicals from oxidases. It is enhanced by free iron, and is responsible for the toxicity from these cells. One of these toxic products generated is peroxynitrite. When the iNOS is down regulated or inhibited, or the oxygen radicals totally suppressed, there is a tremendous reduction in toxicity to almost null in some cases.

Binding of iron also affects this toxicity. NO from the tumor cells actually suppresses the iNOS, and in addition it reduces oxygen radicals to stop the formation of peroxynitrite in these cells. But NO is not the only inhibitor of iNOS in cancer.

Complex antibodies in cancer patients result in a tolerance in the immune system that decreases the immune response to antigens on the tumors. This immune suppression can be overcome with plasmapheresis. Additionally, Freunds adjuvant reversed the immune suppression to tumor antigens in patients.

Which Cancers Are Treated With Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy drugs have been approved to treat many types of cancer. However, immunotherapy is not yet as widely used as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. To learn about whether immunotherapy may be used to treat your cancer, see the PDQ® adult cancer treatment summaries and childhood cancer treatment summaries.

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What The Lymphatic System Is

The lymphatic system is a system of thin tubes and lymph nodes that run throughout the body. These tubes are called lymph vessels or lymphatic vessels. The lymph system is an important part of our immune system. It plays a role in:

  • fighting bacteria and other infections
  • destroying old or abnormal cells, such as cancer cells

This video is about the lymphatic system, it lasts for 1 minute and 59 seconds.

You can read detailed information about the immune system and cancer.

Contributing Immunologic Factors: Environment And Race

The Human Immune System: The Missing Link in Developing Breast Cancer

Environmental Factors in Breast Cancer Etiology


The Breast Cancer Action group reported that US breast cancer rates are highest in four coastal areas . Some have hypothesized that these regions have in common a low elevation and therefore location at the bottom of water sheds. Chemicals that have already been established as being linked to increased breast cancer rates in the last 60 years include xenoestrogens , organochlorine pesticides , solvents used in many industries, aromatic amines from the plastic and chemical industries, 1,3-butadiene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and ethyl oxide from internal combustion engines. Racial disparities in breast cancer may be partially related to environmental exposures that are likely multifactorial and complex. There are too few data to even speculate on the possible links between environmental causes and racial disparities of breast cancer. Research in this area is just now beginning.

Vitamin D

The effects of TNF- on MCF-7 cells are potentiated by pretreatment with vitamin D analogues, which serves to enhance phospholipase A2 and nuclear factor B activation and increase expression of TNF receptor 1 and cathepsin D,, Breast cancer cells treated with vitamin D in vitro demonstrated increased production of TGF-, an inhibitory growth regulator, measured in the culture medium, and upregulation of TGF- receptors.,

The Inflammatory Hypothesis

African American Women Have Higher Mortality from Breast Cancer

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Is Herceptin Right For You

Herceptin is used to treat breast cancers that are HER2-positive.

There are several tests used to find out if breast cancer is HER2-positive. Two of the most common tests are:

The IHC test uses a chemical dye to stain the HER2 proteins. The IHC gives a score of 0 to 3+ that measures the amount of HER2 proteins on the surface of cells in a breast cancer tissue sample. If the score is 0 to 1+, its considered HER2-negative. If the score is 2+, it’s considered borderline. A score of 3+ is considered HER2-positive.

If the IHC test results are borderline, its likely that a FISH test will be done on a sample of the cancer tissue to determine if the cancer is HER2-positive.


The FISH test uses special labels that attach to the HER2 proteins. The special labels have chemicals added to them so they change color and glow in the dark when they attach to the HER2 proteins. This test is the most accurate, but it is more expensive and takes longer to return results. This is why an IHC test is usually the first test done to see if a cancer is HER2-positive. With the FISH test, you get a score of either positive or negative .

Immune System Takes Long Time To Recover After Breast Cancer Chemo

New research that looks at the long-term effects of chemotherapy on breast cancer survivors finds it weakens parts of the immune system for at least 9 months after treatment. This could leave patients with insufficient resilience to common infections, such as pneumonia and tetanus, even if they were immunized previously, say the researchers.

The study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research comes from the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in the UK.

One of the senior authors, Thomas Hughes, an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Leeds, says:

We were surprised that the impact of chemotherapy is so long lived.

He and his colleagues suggest the findings indicate breast cancer survivors who have undergone chemotherapy would likely benefit from post-treatment monitoring.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and claims over half a million lives worldwide every year, note the authors.

Typical treatment for primary tumors involves surgery to remove the tumor, combined with other therapies, such as hormone therapy, radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells. Around 30% of breast cancer patients receive chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy drugs work by attacking cells that divide quickly, which is what cancer cells do. But other cells such as those in the bone marrow where white blood cells are made also divide quickly and are likely to be affected by chemotherapy.

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Formation Of The Metastatic Niche And The Role Of Immune Cells

Beyond T cells and macrophages, NK cells also play a prominent role in the metastatic niche. In a B16 metastatic murine melanoma model, different subsets of NK cells were found to influence the occurrence of metastasis to certain sites, as NK cell depletion increased metastasis to the liver without affecting metastasis to the lung . A significant difference was found in the distribution of NK cell subsets, as defined by their expression of CD27 and CD11b, in the lung and liver. The CD27+ CD11b immature NK subset in the liver was found to protect against liver metastasis, but not pulmonary metastasis, through a NK cell perforin-dependent cytotoxic mechanism, while the mature NK cell subset found in the lung whilst unable to efficiently prevent metastasis formation, yet controlled tumor load . These data indicate that organ-specific immune responses determine the permissiveness of a certain metastatic niche . Other investigations show the inhibition of NK cells is needed to form a metastatic niche, and is induced by hypoxic conditions in primary tumor cells. This leads to the secretion of pro-angiogenic factors and cytokines, which direct CD11b+ Ly6Cmed Ly6G+ myeloid cells to the metastatic niche where they inhibit NK cell maturation and impair their cytotoxic capacity .

What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer Recurrence

Psoriasis or skin cancer? How to tell the difference

You may experience different signs of breast cancer recurrence depending on where the cancer forms.

Local breast cancer recurrence may cause:

  • Breast lump or bumps on or under the chest.
  • Nipple changes, such as flattening or nipple discharge.
  • Swollen skin or skin that pulls near the lumpectomy site.
  • Thickening on or near the surgical scar.
  • Unusually firm breast tissue.
  • Biopsy of the site of suspected recurrence.

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Treatment For Breast Cancer

Treatment options for breast cancer include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. Usually, more than one is used. Treatment for breast cancer in men is similar to the treatment for breast cancer in women.

Treatment depends on several factors, including:

  • whether you have had your menopause
  • the type of breast cancer you have
  • the size of your breast tumour in relation to your breast
  • the stage of your breast cancer
  • the grade of your cancer cells
  • the results of tests on your cancer cells
  • your age, general health and personal preferences.

How Do Cancer Treatments Damage The Immune System

Lets face it, many cancer treatments are physically difficult. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and cancer drugs may take a toll on the body that result in serious side effects. These treatments and side effects may also compromise or exhaust the immune system at a time when your body may need it to perform efficiently. As critical as these cancer treatments are, its also important to understand how, in some cases, they may damage the immune system, so you can take steps to protect yourself, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Q: Should Patients With Cancer And Survivors Of Cancer Be Vaccinated For Covid

Generally, both patients with cancer and survivors of cancer may be offered vaccination unless there are specific contraindications. See ASCOs COVID-19 Vaccine & Patients with Cancer information page for details.

NCCS will provide answers to general questions about COVID-19 and patient advocacy on its website, canceradvocacy.org.

This information is also available in Spanish and Portuguese.

Immune Cells In Invasive Carcinoma Of The Breast

Harness Your Immune System to Fight Cancer – Living with Cancer Symposium 2017


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Mutational Load of Breast Cancer Cells


Nature of Immune Cells in Tertiary Lymph Structures in Breast Cancer

Immune Cells as a Prognostic Biomarker

Immune-Based Therapies for Breast Cancer

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Immune Tumor Microenvironment In Breast Cancer And The Participation Of Estrogen And Its Receptors In Cancer Physiopathology

  • Departamento de Inmunología, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico

Breast cancer is characterized by cellular and molecular heterogeneity. Several molecular events are involved in controlling malignant cell processes. In this sense, there is an overriding importance to study the multiple cell alterations within this pathology. That the immune response can vary depending on sex is a widely identified fact. Steroid hormones and their receptors may regulate different functions and the responses of several subpopulations of the immune system. Few reports are focused on the function of estrogen receptors on immune cells and their roles in different breast cancer subtypes. Thus, the aim of this review is to investigate the immune infiltrating tumor microenvironment and the prognosis conferred by it in different breast cancer subtypes, to discuss the current knowledge and to point out the roles of estrogen and its receptors on the infiltrating immune cells, as well as to identify how different immune subsets are modulated after anti-hormonal treatments in breast cancer patients.

What To Expect When Taking Herceptin

Herceptin can only be given by intravenous infusion, which means it is delivered directly into your bloodstream through an IV or a port. The first dose of Herceptin takes about 90 minutes. After that, it only takes about 30 minutes to get other doses of Herceptin. Your Herceptin treatment schedule will depend on whether you are receiving it with other medicines. You can talk to your doctor about your treatment schedule options.

If youve been diagnosed with early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer, youll likely receive Herceptin together with a chemotherapy regimen. You will receive it for a specific amount of time.

If youve been diagnosed with metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer, you will keep being treated with Herceptin as long as you are getting benefits from the medicine and arent having troubling side effects.

Its important to know that women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant should not take Herceptin. Herceptin can harm the developing fetus. If there is any chance you can become pregnant, you must use effective birth control while youre taking Herceptin and for at least 7 months after your last dose. Visit Treatment for Breast Cancer During Pregnancy for more information.

Also, women who are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed shouldnt take Herceptin. Together, you and your doctor will decide if you should take Herceptin or breastfeed.

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