A clinical trial of injecting radiotherapy to combat aggressive breast cancer by Australian scientists began on Wednesday.
Women suffering from the most aggressive types of breast cancer will undergo treatment combining radiation with immunotherapy in an attempt to "reawaken" the immune system to fight the disease.
Sherene Loi, head of translational breast cancer research at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, said the trial was approved after promising studies on animals where radiation was used to prepare the immune system to fight cancer.
Loi said using radiation and immunotherapy in conjunction was an "emerging idea."
"If you've got primary cancer in the breast, that's usually very curable," Associate Loi told Australian media on Wednesday.
"If it comes back, it's usually incurable and we think that's because it outwits the immune system.
"Once you develop cancer, your immune system has failed. It can't see the cancer any more, and it also actively suppresses the immune system."
She said the research was made possible by her work being awarded a 10-year research grant by the National Breast Cancer Foundation in March.
The foundation said Loi was decided on as one of two recipients because of her potentially revolutionary work.
Loi's study was the first in the world to trial both immunotherapy and gene therapy together.
Breast cancer is the biggest killer of young and middle-aged Australian women.
Cancer Australia estimated that 17,586 women would be diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia in 2017, accounting for 13 percent of all new cancers in the country.