What is triple negative breast cancer?

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IBCResearchFoundation (Organization (Verified) ) - 09 / 10 / 2011

1 vote(s) by murray
Triple negative breast cancer is actually defined by what it's not. The tumor tissue does not over-express the hormones estrogen or progesterone (ER/PR) and also doesn't over-express the oncogene Her2/neu. There are targeted treatments available to block the estrogen receptor (ie: Tamoxifen, etc) and also targeted therapies to inactivate the Her2/neu oncogene (ie: Herceptin & Tykerb). These targeted therapies are not options for those with triple negative breast cancer. This means that chemotherapy agents are the primary treatment for those patients. Much of the medical literature indicates that triple negative breast cancers have a better response to chemotherapy but also have a higher recurrence rate in the years immediately following initial treatment. Triple negative breast cancers tend to be more aggressive in nature, are more common in younger women, and appear to be more common in African American women.

The term triple negative just refers to those three specific markers, not to other specifics of the cancer. Breast cancer is also defined as either ductal, lobular, mucinous, inflammatory, or other such distinctions. All of these types of breast cancer can be triple negative.

Triple negative breast cancers are receiving more attention in the research community and hopefully there will be specific drugable targets identified in this tumor group to improve prognosis.
Shared Experiences

raysingboyz (Current Patient) - 03 / 25 / 2011

Triple-negative breast cancer refers to any breast cancer that does not express the genes for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) or Her2/neu. The Estrogen Receptor, Progesterone Receptor and Her2/neu are of the three things that are tested in diagnosing breast cancer as these are the sources that feed many breast cancers. Testing negative for all three of these common breast cancer links is what gives it the name "triple negative". This type of breast cancer is typically more aggressive and less responsive to standard treatments used in breast cancer patients. Younger women fall into this high risk subgroup of breast cancer. This is a website dedicated to more information and support on this topic: http://www.tnbcfoundation.org/

member9982 (Survivor (2 - 5 years)) - 09 / 07 / 2011

Triple Negative Breast Cancer was only identified in the past 6 or 7 years. Depending on the stage of its diagnosis, triple negative breast cancer can be more aggressive, and more likely to recur than other subtypes of breast cancers. In most breast cancers, the most successful treatments for breast cancer targets the three receptors mentioned above. Because of its triple negative status, however, a triple negative tumor generally does not respond to receptor targeted treatments. Triple negative tumors can grow quickly so appropriate treament is important. On a positive note, however, this type of breast cancer is typically responsive to chemotherapy and many respond well to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. (mine did!)
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