Basal-like carcinoma and triple-negative cancer?

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Question from Rocky: I have triple-negative breast cancer and the pathologist characterized it as basal-like carcinoma. Is it correct to think of basal-like carcinoma as a subset of triple-negative cancer? My understanding is that basal-like carcinoma has an even worse prognosis than triple-negative. Can you comment on this?
Answers - George Sledge, M.D. Basal-like cancers and triple-negative cancers overlap with each other. Not all triple-negative breast cancers are basal-like, and not all basal cancers are triple-negative, though most triple-negative breast cancers are basal and most basal cancers are triple-negative. Since the definition of a basal cancer is a definition derived from the area of genomics, my suspicion here is that the pathologist was using basal and triple-negative in the overlapping sense rather than in a well-defined genetic sense. From a prognostic standpoint, if a tumor is basal or if it is triple-negative, that is a tumor that probably puts one at higher risk of recurrence in the absence of systemic therapy. But as we have mentioned earlier, these tumors are frequently very sensitive to systemic chemotherapy in terms of preventing recurrence and death. And as we mentioned, this is only one factor among many that determines prognosis; other factors being the stage and grade of the tumor.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Triple-Negative Breast Cancer featured George Sledge, M.D. and Beth Baughman DuPree, M.D., F.A.C.S. answering your questions about triple-negative breast cancer and its treatment.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in July 2008.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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