Triple-negative breast cancer is a rare type of breast cancer that affects women.
It is a rare but aggressive type of breast cancer. Around 10% of breast cancer cases belong to this category. As being a rare type of cancer, it is also very challenging to treat triple-negative breast cancer.
As the name suggests, triple-negative breast cancer is referent to the type of breast cancer which does not have three associated markers. These three associated bio-makers are estrogen, progesterone hormones, and HER2 protein. These biomarkers are generally present in other breast cancers.
This cancer requires special treatment hence these types of biomarkers are important to identify beforehand.
Triple-negative breast cancer is aggressive and can spread much more rapidly than other types of cancer.
This article mainly focuses on triple-negative breast cancer and its diagnosis, treatment, and survival rate. Continue reading to know more.
Who is at risk?
Mostly Black and Latina women are more prone to triple-negative breast cancer than white women.
Women of or below 40 years are at more risk of getting triple-negative breast cancer. Even though it’s a rare type of cancer, it is an aggressive one. It can be a fetal cause of death in many women worldwide.
Especially women with a genetic mutation in the BRCA1 gene are often observed in breast cancer patients. It is a gene that prevents cancer cells from growing.
A mutation in this gene can stop the cancer cells from growing which will cause tumor formation. It is one of the major reasons for having triple-negative breast cancer.
What are the common symptoms?
There are several common symptoms of triple-negative breast cancer which are similar to any type of breast cancer symptoms. Some of the symptoms are:
- Lump in breast
- Swelling in the breast or nipple
- Chapped skin around the nipple
- Fluid discharge
- Inward nipples
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Redness on breast
- Pain in breast
- Nipple or broken skin is scaly or flaky
- Skin dimpling
These are some common breast cancer symptoms that indicate the presence of a tumor inside the breast. Early diagnosis can still save many lives. Consult your doctor if you experience these symptoms.
Diagnosis of cancer
Diagnosis is a process by which the doctor correctly identifies a disease and plans treatment accordingly. Nowadays many advanced technologies are developed which can help doctors to get a detailed view of the tumor and identify the stage and severity of the tumor.
It has been said that the first test for any suspected breast cancer case is a mammogram. This is the test that is done to examine any suspicious lump or tumor inside the breast.
Apart from that biopsy is done to examine the type of cells in the tumor. It takes a small sample from the tumor of the patient and then examines it under the microscope to identify the type of cells.
If the cells found in the sample are cancerous, another test occurs to identify the correct type of breast cancer. These tests involve checking the presence of estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 protein. The absence of all three represents triple-negative breast cancer.
These are other common tests that are done, unlike these tests, some imaging tests are done to identify the stage and severity of cancer in the breast. These types of tests involve magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, CT scan, or PET scan.
There are several treatment options available for breast cancer.
Apart from traditional methods of cancer treatment, there are multiple new technologies arriving every day.
Innovative methods and new drugs are coming onto the market which makes the treatment more reliable and efficient. Some of the most common ways of cancer treatment are:
- Surgery/mastectomy- The surgery to remove a tumor from the breast or surrounding tissues can be done as the main method of treatment. In many cases, the whole breast is removed which is known as mastectomy while in many cases a lump is removed which is known as lumpectomy. Depending upon the stage of cancer and how much part of the breast is affected, the doctor will decide the type of surgery.
- Chemotherapy – The use of drugs to kill the cancerous cells in the body is known as chemotherapy. Either chemotherapy is used alone as the main type of treatment or before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor in the body. There are several types of drugs that are used for chemotherapy and these drugs are of high doses that can cause multiple side effects as well.
- Radiation therapy – Radiation therapy is the use of high-beam radiation that kills the cancerous cells in the body to control the growth of tumors. Radiation is often used after surgery to kill the remaining cancer cells that can be left after surgery.
Prognosis and survival rate
After getting the treatment it is likely that you will experience certain side effects, which involve nausea, vomiting, pain, hairlessness, fatigue, or mental fog which is associated with chemotherapy.
These side effects can be managed exactly after recess. Although every patient may experience some different side effects it is always advised to consult your doctor before taking any medication.
The 5-year survival rate of triple-negative breast cancer is around 90% for early-stage cancer.
This implies the stage in which cancer has not yet spread. If cancer spreads to surrounding lymph nodes or other tissue the survival rate decreases to 60%. If cancer has spread to other organs, it is difficult to treat cancer and hence the survival rate drops to 15%.
Therefore, it is advised to visit a doctor as soon as possible if you experience any symptoms and to avoid such misconceptions regarding the tumor.