What Is Triple-Negative Breast Cancer?


Breast Cancer pic

Breast Cancer
Image: webmd.com

Hematologist-oncologist Dr. Kenneth D. Nahum treats patients at Regional Cancer Care Associates. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Kenneth D. Nahum has served as either the principal investigator or a co-investigator on dozens of studies focused on conditions including triple-negative breast cancer.

Breast cells usually contain different receptors, which are responsible for telling the cells what to do based on the substances found in the bloodstream. Estrogen and progesterone receptors in healthy breast cells receive messages from these two hormones; some breast cancer cells also contain these receptors, meaning their growth is supported by these hormones. Similarly, HER2 receptors stimulate the growth of healthy breast cells and, when present in breast cancer cells, result in cancer cell growth that is very rapid.

Triple-negative breast cancer has been tested for the presence of these three receptors, all of which are absent from the breast cancer cells. This occurs in roughly 10 percent to 20 percent of all breast cancer cases. Since the cancer cells have no hormone receptors, the condition does not respond to common hormonal therapies or medications that target HER2, estrogen, or progesterone. This makes treatment of triple-negative breast cancer much more difficult than other breast cancer types.

Furthermore, triple-negative breast cancer is more aggressive than other forms of the disease. It has a higher likelihood of spreading to other areas of the body and often returns after treatment. These issues have resulted in a lower five-year survival rate for people with the condition.