Triple negative breast cancer is a type of breast cancer that does not have any of the three receptors commonly found on breast cancer cells – the oestrogen, progesterone and HER2 receptors. Around 15 per cent of early breast cancers are triple negative. Triple negative "early" breast cancer generally refers to triple negative breast cancer that is stage 1 or 2.
Triple negative breast cancer is an aggressive and fast-growing cancer and therefore early detection is important for optimal outcomes.
Triple negative breast cancer generally responds well to chemotherapy. Five years after diagnosis, people with triple negative breast cancer are no more likely to experience a recurrence of their breast cancer than people with other types of breast cancer. In the longer term (over 10 years), a recurrence is less likely with triple negative breast cancer.
Treatment for triple negative early breast cancer may involve:
Because triple negative breast cancer is usually responsive to chemotherapy, your medical oncologist will most likely develop a chemotherapy treatment plan for you. This treatment plan should take into account your own individual needs and preferences, so speak to your doctor about what you want and need.
Chemotherapy for triple negative breast cancer is often given before surgery. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
There can be a number of benefits in having chemotherapy before surgery, including:
Treatment for triple negative breast cancer may also include radiotherapy after surgery, especially if you have breast-conserving surgery.
You can also talk to your medical oncologist about any clinical trials that may be suitable for you.
Anyone can get triple negative breast cancer. However, there are some things that increase a person’s risk of triple negative breast cancer.
There are many different types of breast cancer, and each one is treated differently. Triple negative breast cancer is a less common form of breast cancer, so some people may find it difficult to explain their treatment options to others. Talking to your treating team for advice and support can be very helpful.
Some people find the support of others who have triple negative breast cancer helpful because they share similar experiences. Our Online Network may help you connect with others in the same situation.
Research has identified different sub-types of triple negative breast cancer. Identifying these subtypes is a step toward providing opportunities to develop new treatments that target these subtypes.
Targeted therapies are currently being investigated using PARP inhibitors for BRCA-related cancers, PI3K/AKT inhibitors and immunotherapy drugs for other subtypes.
Listen to BCNA’s podcast episode about Young women and triple negative breast cancer.
Visit National Breast Cancer Foundation's Triple negative breast cancer page.
Download Cancer Council's "Understanding breast cancer" booklet.
Read about immunotherapy and its recommendation on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for triple negative breast cancer: BCNA celebrates recent PBAC decisions.
Visit My Journey, BCNA’s online tool for information tailored to your diagnosis.
Join our Online Network if you think that talking to others online and sharing experiences will help.
Contact BCNA’s Helpline on 1800 500 258 between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm AEST Monday to Friday, for information about the services and support that may be available for you and your family.
Paul is living with metastatic breast cancer. He shares his story and his determination to live a happy and long life with his family
Episode 16: Young women and triple negative breast cancer
Dipthi was diagnosed with grade 3 triple negative breast cancer. She opens up about support from her family, and the impact of COVID19
Allison was working and taking care of her two kids, while also supporting her sister through her breast cancer when she was diagnosed herself
Diagnosed at 22 after losing her mum to breast cancer at 12, Stephanie tells her story of family, relationships, COVID19 and BCNA support