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Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Triple-negative breast cancer is invasive breast cancer that is estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative, and HER2-negative.
 

Triple-negative breast cancer is a type of breast cancer that is usually more aggressive, harder to treat, and more likely to come back (recur) than cancers that are hormone receptor-positive or HER2-positive.

Triple-negative breast cancer is invasive breast cancer that is:

  • estrogen receptor-negative

  • progesterone receptor-negative

  • HER2-negative

This means the cancer cells don’t have receptors for the hormones estrogen or progesterone and don’t make too much of the HER2 protein. So triple-negative breast cancers don't respond to hormonal therapy medicines or the medicines that target the HER2 protein.

About 10-15% of all breast cancers are triple-negative. Triple-negative breast cancer is more common in:

  • women younger than 40

  • Black women

  • women who have a BRCA1 mutation

The symptoms, staging, diagnosis, and survivorship care for triple-negative breast cancer are the same as other invasive ductal carcinomas.

Hope After a Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Diagnosis

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Treatments for triple-negative breast cancer may include:

  • Surgery: You and your doctor will work together to determine the type of surgery that’s right for you, based on the characteristics of the cancer, your family and medical history, and your preferences.

  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is almost always recommended after lumpectomy and may be recommended after mastectomy if the cancer is large or cancer is found in the lymph nodes.

  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy may be given before or after surgery. Your doctor will consider the characteristics of the breast cancer and your medical history when deciding when chemotherapy is right for your unique situation.

  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy medicines use the power of your body’s immune system to attack cancer cells.

Reviewed by 1 medical adviser
 
Jenni Sheng, MD
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
Learn more about our advisory board

— Last updated on February 9, 2022, 11:30 PM

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