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Triple Negative Breast Cancer Responds to Vegetable Compound

Triple negative breast cancer responds to vegetable compound

Between 15 and 20 percent of women with breast cancer have what is known as triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive, fast growing form of the disease. Now a collaborative research team has reported that a vegetable compound may be an effective treatment for triple negative breast cancer.

A new approach for triple negative breast cancer

Triple negative breast cancer gets its name from the fact that women with this form of cancer do not have any of the three receptors that characterize the other forms of breast cancer; that is, estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Breast cancer treatments that are often successful, such as tamoxifen and Herceptin, target these receptors.

Because women with triple negative breast cancer lack these treatment targets, treatment options are limited, although the cancer does respond to chemotherapy. On the down side, triple negative breast cancer metastasizes earlier, is more difficult to identify on a mammogram, and recurs more often.

The report on the new vegetable compound, C-substituted diindolylmethane (C-DIM), was recently presented at the 2012 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting and Exposition. DIM is a natural substance formed when another substance called glucobrassicin, which is found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, watercress, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale, is broken down with the help of an enzyme.

Numerous studies have evaluated the cancer-fighting potential of DIM, and this latest study is one of them. This time, scientists looked at synthetic compounds derived from DIM and discovered they have very promising anticancer activities.

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One of the new study's authors, Mandip Sachdeva, PhD, from Florida A&M University, noted that "We are confident that the compounds we are currently working with are an effective treatment for triple negative breast cancer," and pointed out they are safer for patients than treatments currently used for the disease.

Women with triple negative breast cancer are typically treated with chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. However, treatment programs differ based on an individual woman's situation. Some women have chemotherapy before surgery (called neoadjuvant therapy), and several studies have shown this approach to remove all signs of the disease.

Side effects associated with chemotherapy can be especially challenging, because the drugs destroy both cancer cells and healthy cells. Therefore, problems with fatigue, nausea, skin irritation, hair loss, and greater vulnerability to infection, among others, can occur and linger well beyond treatment.

The authors of this latest study noted that unlike chemotherapy, DIM compounds can be taken orally and are safe. Vegetable compounds for triple negative breast cancer also can be taken along with anticancer drugs and reduce the number of such treatments women may need.

American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists
Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation

Image: Wikimedia Commons