HONOLULU (KHON2) — According to University of Hawaii researchers, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women diagnosed with breast cancer have higher rates of Inflammatory Breast Cancer.

IBC is the most aggressive form of breast cancer compared to other racial and ethnic populations in Hawaii.

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It is unresponsive to conventional breast cancer treatments due to its immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment, the ecosystem that surrounds a tumor inside the body.

UH Cancer Center Director Naoto T. Ueno and Xiaoping Wang with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center led a study and found a way to reduce the inhibition of the TME on the immune checkpoint inhibitor. This is a type of treatment that destroys cancer cells and boosts the body immune system, according to UH researchers.

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The study showed that changing the TME by targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor using an anti-EGFR therapy can make immunotherapy work better and diminish even more cancer cells.