Triple-negative breast cancer is a type of breast cancer in which cancer cells do not have receptors for estrogen, progesterone, and HER2. This makes treatment difficult because many drugs used to treat breast cancer target these hormone receptors. Triple-negative breast cancer is more likely to grow and spread than other forms of breast cancer. About 10% to 15% of breast cancer diagnoses are triple negative breast cancer. There are several risk factors and genetic causes that may increase a woman’s chances of developing triple-negative breast cancer compared to other types of breast cancer.
Common risk factors for triple-negative breast cancer include:
- Age: Most breast cancer diagnoses occur in women over the age of 60, but triple-negative breast cancer may appear earlier, in women 50 and younger.
- Weight: People who are overweight or obese are at higher risk.
- Race: African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to develop triple-negative breast cancer than Caucasians or Asians.
- Genetic mutations: Changes in genes such as the BRCA1 gene can increase the risk of this type of breast cancer.
- Family history: A family history of breast cancer increases the risk of triple-negative breast cancer.
- Oral contraceptives: One study found a 2.5-fold increase in the incidence of triple-negative breast cancer among women under the age of 45 who used oral contraceptives for more than a year.
One of the main causes of triple negative is genetic changes in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These genes normally help produce tumor suppressor proteins in the body.
An estimated 10 to 15 percent of Caucasians with triple-negative breast cancer have a BRCA1 gene mutation, while 35 percent of African-Americans with triple-negative breast cancer have a BRCA1 gene mutation.
The BRCA1, BRCA2, BARD1, PALB2, RAD51D genes increase the risk of any type of breast cancer by 20% and also increase the chance of breast cancer being diagnosed as triple negative breast cancer.
Heart disease and breast cancer share some of the same risk factors, such as smoking and obesity. Although cardiovascular disease does not cause breast cancer, people diagnosed with breast cancer are at risk of dying from cardiovascular-related disease.
This is especially true in the case of triple-negative breast cancer, which is often treated with chemotherapy, and certain chemotherapy drugs can cause heart disease.
In a study of 147 patients with triple-negative breast cancer, only 31% had a normal electrocardiogram (ECG) after each chemotherapy cycle, while others reported increased heart rate and decreased left ventricular ejection fraction (left ventricular ejection fraction). how efficiently your heart pumps blood).
Lifestyle Risk Factors
While you can’t change your genetic makeup or age, there are many lifestyle factors you can change in reducing your risk of triple-negative (and all) breast cancer.
The most common lifestyle risk factors are:
- lack of physical activity
- postmenopausal weight
- drinking too much
- taking hormonal birth control or hormone replacement therapy
Making sure you stay active, eat well, and drink in moderation are simple steps you can take to reduce your risk and stay healthy. If you’re concerned about using oral contraceptives, talk to your healthcare provider, who can outline the risks and benefits of each method so you can work together to find the best method for your lifestyle and health. It is also worth noting that the increased risk associated with hormonal medications decreases approximately 10 years after cessation of hormonal medications.
Having risk factors that can lead to a triple-negative cancer diagnosis can be frightening, especially since treatment options are far more limited than for other types of breast cancer. That’s why it’s important to remember that these risk factors will only increase your chances – having one or more of them won’t necessarily cause you to develop triple negative breast cancer, and the absence of any of the above risk factors doesn’t mean it is It is impossible to get triple negative breast cancer. The best way to protect yourself is to follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and be sure to keep your breasts healthy by doing self-exams at home, having your health care provider check up on your annual breast exam, and recommending a regular schedule based on your age Have a mammogram.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can stress make triple-negative breast cancer worse?
It seems so, and animal studies are beginning to reveal possible reasons. For example, social stress, especially prolonged isolation from others, can reprogram certain fat cells in the breast to secrete a substance that causes nearby cancer cells to proliferate faster than usual. Other studies have found that stress interferes with the effectiveness of certain cancer drugs.
What is the prognosis of triple negative breast cancer?
The five-year relative survival rate for triple-negative breast cancer depends on the stage of the cancer:
- Localized (cancer has not spread beyond the primary site): 91%
- Regional (cancer has spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes): 65%
- Distant (cancer has spread to the lungs, liver, bone, or other distant areas): 12%
- All three stages combined: 77%
Can triple negative breast cancer be prevented?
Will not. However, for women found to have mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, which significantly increase the risk of triple-negative breast cancer, bilateral preventive mastectomy — surgery to remove both breasts — may reduce the risk by 95 percent .
How to Diagnose Triple Negative Breast Cancer