Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a subtype of breast cancer that does not express hormone receptors (ER-, PR-) or HER2/neu (HER2-) About 15 to 20 percent of breast cancers diagnosed today in the U.S. are TNBC. These tumors tend to occur more often in younger women and African-American women. Women who carry a mutated BRCA1 gene tend to have breast cancers that are triple negative. Triple negative tumors are often aggressive.
Today there are no targeted therapies specifically for TNBC. However, triple negative breast cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. More research is needed to better understand how this cancer develops and how it can be treated more effectively. And that is what Susan G. Komen® is doing.
Komen has invested more than $98 million in more than 130 research grants focused on triple negative breast cancer since it was first identified as a distinct type of breast cancer in 2006. This research has helped us to understand that:
- There are at least 6 different subtypes of TNBC, each with different abnormalities, which may be treated using drugs that are specific to these abnormalities.
- A combination of a new drug called a PARP inhibitor plus standard chemotherapy may be more effective at killing TNBC than chemotherapy alone.
- A blood test that measures the presence of a specific set of genes may be used to identify TNBC patients with BRCA mutations, resulting in earlier intervention and improved treatment.