Triple-negative breast cancer is different from the three more common types of breast cancer. It is harder to treat and aggressive.

Because it is aggressive and rare, battling triple-negative breast cancer can be difficult, and fewer treatment options are available.

Contents of this article:

What is triple-negative breast cancer?

Female doctor and patient discussing test results.
Triple-negative breast cancer is the least common type of breast cancer.

To understand triple-negative breast cancer, a person needs to know more about the three major types of breast cancer. These are:

Progesterone receptor positive and estrogen receptor positive are the most common types of breast cancers.

For people who develop one of these types of cancers, there are hormonal therapy options that can help attack the cancer cells. If one therapy does not work, often another therapy may.

Another common breast cancer type is HER2 receptor positive. In cases of HER2, the cancer cells have an abundance of HER2 receptors on their surfaces. Similarly to the breast cancers caused by hormone receptors, HER2 breast cancer can be treated with different therapies that target the HER2 receptor.

Triple-negative breast cancer refers to cancer that has not tested positive for any of the three other types. It is also the least common form of breast cancer and the hardest to treat.

Unlike the three main types, triple-negative breast cancer has no targeted therapies available, currently. It is also more likely than the other types of breast cancer to spread and recur.

Risk factors

Currently, researchers are interested in finding out more about some of the risk factors for developing triple-negative breast cancer. Those that researchers have identified so far include:

Obesity and inactivity

People who are obese and have a higher BMI have been found to be more at risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer. These categories tend to include those who are not very active.

Genetics

Individuals with mutated genes are at higher risk for triple-negative breast cancer, as well as other common cancers.

A family history of breast cancer can help determine if a someone is at a higher risk of developing breast cancer in the future.

Age

Some research suggests that age may play a role in increased risk fof developing triple-negative breast cancer.

Premenopausal women have been found to develop triple-negative breast cancer more often than postmenopausal women.

Race or ethnicity

Some studies suggest that certain backgrounds may make people more susceptible to triple-negative breast cancer. A disproportionate numbers of cases of triple-negative breast cancer affect African-American…