Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) is rare cancer affecting 13 in 100,000 women yearly. TNBC is one of the rarest and most challenging types of cancer to treat, accounting for 15% of overall invasive breast cancer. 77% of the women with this condition are known to survive for five years after the diagnosis.

The three receptors or markers associated with other types of breast cancer are estrogen, progesterone, and HER2. If any of these markers are present in the diagnosed breast cancer, doctors use breast cancer treatments like hormone therapy or other drugs by which they can destroy the cancer cell. But in triple-negative breast cancer, these otherwise commonly known receptors of breast cancer are not found. 

Who is Likely to be Affected by TNBC?

Women falling in the age group 40 and younger are more likely to get this cancer. Women having gene change BRAC1 also risk developing this medical condition. When the BRAC1 gene mutates, it cannot prevent cancer. Instead, it makes the body cells more vulnerable to cancer.

The Symptoms

The symptoms of Triple-Negative Breast cancer can be similar to other breast cancer symptoms. Some of the known breast cancer symptoms are:-

  1. Identification of a new lump or mass
  2. Swelling overall or some part of the breast
  3. Pain in the breast or nipple
  4. Dimpled skin
  5. Dry, flaking, thickened breast, or nipple skin
  6. Discharge from the nipple which is not milk
  7. Swollen Lymph nodes. 

How is Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Diagnosed? 

Initially, doctors can suggest a mammogram to examine a suspicious mass or lump in the breast. Then, depending on the findings, a biopsy can be performed to remove and study the breast tissue to identify the nature of cancer. 

This stage is crucial as it is only after identifying the cancer subtype that the doctors can decide on the treatment path. MRI, Ultrasound, Computed Tomography (CAT) scan, and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan are other tests that can be conducted to check on the tumour’s size and the response to breast cancer treatment. 

Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Treatment – 

Researchers and healthcare practitioners are making substantial progress in identifying how to treat Triple-negative Breast Cancer. New drug combinations and approaches are tested to check how they work with existing breast cancer treatments. Some of the treatments for the condition are:-

  1. Chemotherapy – Cancerous cells may have spread elsewhere in the body, and chemotherapy is used to kill those cells. It also reduces the chances for cancer to strike back. Chemotherapy can be used with surgery to reduce the tumour size before and after the surgery. 
  2. Surgery – in cases where cancer has not spread to other parts of the body, surgery is done to treat the condition. A lumpectomy can be an option to remove a single lump, or a Mastectomy needs to be done to remove the entire breast. Surgeons can then perform a Sentinel node biopsy or axillary node surgery to check whether there is a spread to the lymph nodes. 
  3. Radiation – Lumpectomies are generally followed by radiation therapy. High-energy radiation is applied to the breast to kill cancer-causing cells. It can be a session of 20 minutes daily. I can continue for about six weeks with radiation performed for four to five days per week. Post-surgery radiation can be effective in minimizing the recurrence of cancer.
  4. Immunotherapy – In this treatment, the overall immune strength of the patient is stimulated to produce more cancer-fighting cells. The healthy cells can identify and attack the cancerous cells. Immunotherapy can be combined with chemotherapy before the surgery to shrink the tumour in size. It is also used as a post-surgery phase treatment. 

Common Side-Effects of Breast Cancer Treatment

  • Hair Loss – Breast Cancer treatments, like chemotherapy, can result in all or partial hair loss
  • Nausea – Nausea after chemotherapy is also a common side-effect in women suffering from TNBC.
  • Tiredness – Post chemotherapy or radiation phase in breast cancer treatment can make patients very tired, and they may find it difficult to remember things. 
  • Lymphedema – If lymph nodes are treated by surgery or radiation, and if the lymph fluid does not drain properly, Lymphedema can develop. In this condition, the fluid builds up under the skin and can cause body swelling.  

Final Words

Although progress has been made in dealing with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer, more remains to be done, especially in finding the factors that cause it. Monitoring breast health, knowledge of family medical history, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can give the strength and understanding to fight the disease. And remember, bodies react to different health-related issues. So, checking breast health regularly is a must and if you find anything suspicious, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Get in touch with the Max Healthcare group for further medical assistance.

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