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Everything to Know About Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC)

All breast tumours are examined by pathologists for three receptors (proteins) believed to encourage the development of breast cancer when a diagnosis of the disease is made. The diagnosis is known as triple-negative breast cancer if the cancer cells test negative for both the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) and the oestrogen (ER) and progesterone (PR) hormone receptors. Compared to other breast cancer types, triple-negative breast tumours frequently advance and metastasize more quickly. Triple-negative breast cancer is seen as being more aggressive than other types of breast cancer as a result. TNBC seems to be more likely to metastasize (spread outside the breast) and come back after therapy than other invasive kinds of breast cancer. TNBC is treated less aggressively than other breast cancers.


Causes of TNBC:

Although the exact origin of TNBC is unknown, researchers believe that the BRCA1 genetic mutation could contribute to its development. Cancer prevention is the goal of the BRCA1 gene. But when the gene changes, it goes in the opposite direction making your cells more prone to cancer.


Symptoms of TNBC:

A diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer is not accompanied by any peculiar signs of the disease. It is often found during regular mammography screening for breast cancer before any symptoms appear. Nevertheless, some individuals may show symptoms like:


  • Alterations to breast shape
  • A suspicious or mass-like finding on a mammogram
  • Nipple or breast pain
  • Nipple discharge
  • Blunt inversion
  • Breast enlargement
  • A lump
  • Increase in nipple skin thickness
  • A fresh breast crease


Diagnosis of TNBC:

Mammography may be the initial step to assess a suspected tumour or lump in your breast. Healthcare professionals could do a breast biopsy to remove tissue from the breast. This is based on what they discover in the mammogram. To identify the cancer subtype, scientists then study the cells in the tissues. The staging procedure, which is when healthcare professionals decide how to treat your disease also includes determining the cancer subtype.


Before starting treatment, doctors may order the following tests to determine how big your tumour is and if it has progressed. These tests are also performed after starting therapy to assess how well it is working:


  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Ultrasound.
  • CAT scan for computed tomography.
  • PET scan, or positron emission tomography.


Treatment for TNBC:

TNBC treatment might be difficult. Triple-negative tumours lack the necessary proteins to react to therapies for common breast cancers, such as hormonal treatment and targeted therapies used mostly for hormone-positive or HER2-positive breast cancer. The only remaining key therapeutic choices for triple-negative breast cancer are chemotherapy and immunotherapy. If the tumour is small enough, surgical removal may be a possibility for TNBC breast cancer that is at stages I through III, either before or after chemotherapy. Treatment for stage IV TNBC frequently depends on the unique circumstances of the patient, including the existence of a BRCA gene mutation, the proteins that the cancer cells do contain, and other genes.


Side effects of treatment:

There are adverse reactions to every treatment. Additionally, each person's response to these side effects may vary. Some of the common side effects observed are - hair loss, nausea, tiredness, lymphedema and skin changes which may include redness and peeling. Inquire about particular adverse effects of the treatments from your doctor. Both what they will do to assist you in managing treatment side effects and what you may do to help yourself will be explained.



Thanks to recent advancements in the discovery of new medicines and the development of novel applications for existing ones, the prognosis for TNBC is becoming better. Similar to other cancers, TNBC has a better prognosis the sooner it is identified and treated. Because it spreads fast, is more likely to have done so when it is discovered and is more likely to recur following therapy than other forms of breast cancer, that is why triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is regarded as an aggressive type of breast cancer. The prognosis for this form of breast cancer is typically not as excellent as it is for other types. Some therapy approaches may be less successful in treating triple-negative breast cancer because it lacks the receptors that other forms of breast cancer do. The prognosis for TNBC depends on its size and distribution.


The percentage of persons who have the same cancer stage and type who are still alive five years (or more) after their diagnosis may be determined by looking at survival rates. While they can't predict how long you'll survive, they might be able to assist you in better grasping the likelihood that your therapy will be effective.


Remember that survival statistics are only approximations, frequently based on the outcomes of several patients who had a given cancer in the past, and cannot be used to forecast an individual's prognosis. These facts may be confounding and cause you to have further inquiries. Consult your doctor to discuss how these figures could relate to you.

Dr Rajeev Agarwal
Cancer Care
Meet The Doctor
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