Triple negative breast cancer
What does triple negative mean?
Triple negative breast cancer means the cancer cells don’t have any receptors on their surface for:
- The hormone oestrogen
- The hormone progesterone
- The HER2 protein
Oestrogen, progesterone and HER2 can attach to the different receptors and encourage the cancer cells to grow.
Some breast cancer treatments like hormone therapy and other targeted therapies work with these receptors. If you have triple negative cancer these types of drugs will not be helpful for you.
Is it common for cancers to be triple negative?
No. About 1 in every 8 breast cancers is triple negative. It’s more common in younger women and black women.
How is triple negative breast cancer treated?
- Surgery. You may have part of your breast removed or the whole breast (mastectomy). Your surgeon will probably also remove lymph nodes from your armpit area to see if the cancer has spread there. This is called a sentinel lymph node biopsy. It’s usually done at the same time as the surgery to remove the tumour.
- Chemotherapy. You might have chemotherapy before surgery to shrink the cancer and make it easier to remove. Chemotherapy after surgery can reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.
- Radiotherapy. Radiotherapy after surgery can help to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.
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