Triple Negative Breast Cancer:
Breast cancer is commonly fueled by any one of the following:
- HER2 protein
If your pathology report says that none of the receptors for these hormones or protein were found in your tumor, your breast cancer is said to be Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Between 10-20% of breast cancers are triple negative.
What does a triple negative breast cancer diagnosis imply?
Hormonal therapy and HER2 receptor antagonists are considered very effective in the treatment of breast cancer and they have fewer side effects when compared with chemotherapy. A triple negative cancer indicates that the hormones progesterone and estrogen do not facilitate the growth of the cancer cells. Furthermore, the cancerous cells do not overexpress the HER2 receptor. This implies that hormonal treatments and HER3 receptor antagonists would not be effective in the treatment of this kind of cancer.
Who is at risk?
While many studies are still ongoing to unravel the mystery behind triple negative factors, the following classes of people have been identified to be at greater risk of developing this type of breast cancer
- African-Americans and Hispanics
- Younger people
- People with a mutation in the BRCA1 gene
The prognosis for triple negative breast cancer
Triple-negative breast cancers tend to have a worse prognosis than other types of cancers. The reason for this isn’t farfetched. As stated earlier, hormonal treatments and HER2 receptor antagonists, treatments that have become first line for many breast cancers, would be ineffective against triple negative tumor cells. Triple-negative breast cancers are also known to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancers. The good news, however, is that research suggests that chemotherapy works better for triple negative breast cancers. Overall, the specific prognosis for your case would depend on the stage of your cancer. You should also know that the chances of a relapse are higher for triple negative breast cancers
Treatment for Triple negative breast cancer
As this type of breast cancer is more aggressive, the treatment is also commonly aggressive. A combination of treatment options is usually used and your doctor may use one or more of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery depending on the peculiarity of your case. Your chemotherapy dose may be higher than the typical dose and your doctor may prescribe a mastectomy rather than a lumpectomy because of the aggressive nature of triple negative breast cancer.
Various research that is aimed at developing targeted treatments for triple negative breast cancers is also ongoing. You should listen to your doctor and probably get a second opinion since new benchmarks are being recorded almost on a daily basis.
While it is true that a triple negative breast cancer may be more aggressive, harder to treat, and consequently more fatal, you should know that there are effective treatment options for triple-negative breast cancer. As always, early detection greatly increases your chances of winning the fight. Furthermore, the cancer is likely to relapse within three years of a successful treatment and is highly fatal within the first 5 years of diagnosis. If you can successfully beat these two milestones, you have little to worry about.