Approximately every half hour, a woman in the U.S. is diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). But what is TNBC and how is it different from other forms of breast cancer?

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March 3 is Triple Negative Breast Cancer Awareness Day, a time to educate yourself and loved ones on this specific type of breast cancer. Here are five key facts to know about TNBC:

  1. Breast cancer is diagnosed based on the presence or absence of three receptors, which are drivers for the development and growth of breast cancer. These include: estrogen, progesterone and HER2‐neu. Triple negative breast cancer is diagnosed when a woman’s pathology report indicates a negative result for all three of the common receptors.
  2. About 10 to 20 percent of breast cancers are found to be triple negative.
  3. TNBC occurs most frequently in women ages 40 to 50 (younger than the average age of diagnosis across other forms of the disease), African-American women and Hispanic women, and those with BRCA1
  4. TNBC is more aggressive than other forms of breast cancer, making it more likely to spread to other parts of the body and more likely to recur after treatment.
  5. Significant advancements have been made in the development of hormonal therapies and HER2-targeted therapies, which work to interfere with drivers of breast cancer and slow the growth of cancer cells. Triple negative breast cancer is typically treated with a combination of therapies such as surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Ongoing clinical trials are being conducted for more effective therapies for TNBC.

For more information on breast cancer receptors and how breast cancer spreads, visit the Sarah Cannon breast cancer education pages.