There are three common markers for breast cancer: Progesterone receptor (PR), estrogen receptor (ER) and hormone epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2 protein – a cell growth factor). A triple-negative breast cancer cell does not express these markers. These markers are more often found on breast cancer cells – but are absent in this type of a breast cancer cell. These types of breast cancers are a more aggressive type of breast cancer. They recur within the first few years after diagnosis.

Nearly about 15 to 20 per cent of breast cancers are triple-negative breast cancers.

This type of breast cancer is common in women who carry the mutated BRCA1 gene.

Who are at risk of Triple-negative breast cancer?

The cancer is usually detected in young women (high breast density), obese women and the women who are not breastfeeding and also in those women who carry mutated BRCA1 gene. It is also common in African Americans and Hispanics. Learn more about the risk factors for breast cancer

Are there any medicines to treat triple-negative breast cancer?

Neither hormonal therapy nor the medicines that target HER2 protein receptors work in patients with triple-negative breast cancer. There are some medicines to successfully treat this type of breast cancer.

How is the staging of a triple-negative breast cancer done?

Staging is the process of determining the extent of cancer and its spread in the body. Together with the type of cancer, staging helps determine the appropriate therapy and predict the chances for survival.

Staging is done to know the point or degree to which cancer has extended and also the spread of cancer in the body. Staging helps in determining the type of cancer and also the appropriate and precise treatment modality – in addition to helping in predicting the possibilities of survival.

Imaging Tests for Staging

Imaging techniques help in determining the extent of cancer and its spread in the body, MRI scans, bone scans, CT and PET scans are different imaging techniques that are helpful. Staging is based on the aggressiveness of cancer spread to lymph nodes, different organs and distant locations in the body. The evaluation of results obtained from PR, ER and HER2 tests and the lymph nodes removed after surgery are helpful in staging breast cancer. The initial or the lowest stage is the stage I, and the subsequent stages are stage II, stage III and the stage IV – which is the highest stage (In this stage the breast cancer has metastasized – cancer spreads to distant organs of the body).

What are the treatment modalities for triple-negative breast cancer?

This type of cancer is usually treated by surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

There are two procedures (surgical therapies for breast cancer): lumpectomy – It is a breast-conserving surgery (only small part or partial removal of the breast is done); Mastectomy – In this type of procedure complete breast is removed due to the spread of cancer throughout the breast tissues.

Radiation therapy is recommended to triple-negative breast cancer patients mostly after surgery (lumpectomy).

Chemotherapy – In triple-negative breast cancer, anti-hormonal therapy or HER2 targeted therapy is not effective – therefore, chemotherapy is the preferred mode of treatment. Intravenous injections are used to administer chemotherapy. Chemotherapy may also be given before or after the surgery. For advanced (stage IV) metastasized breast cancer, chemotherapy is administered.

What is the survival rate for triple-negative breast cancer?

Prognosis or the five-year survival rate for triple-negative breast cancer is a follow:

    1. Stage I —–   100%
    2. Stage II —— 93%
    3. Stage III —— 72%
    4. Stage IV —— 22%

Cancer screening helps in detecting all types of breast cancers – early-stage detection of breast cancer ensures effective treatment and promising outcomes. Breast cancer screening saves lives ….