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Triple Negative Breast Cancers You may have just heard about an overall drop in cancer rates for the first time not only in deaths but new cases for men and women. That's partly due to the progress made in breast cancer treatment.

That's true but fifteen percent of women diagnosed get a rare form that's tough to beat. It's called the triple negative form of breast cancer and strikes mostly young African American women and women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations.

There also seems to be an elevated risk among Hispanic women and some elevation among Asian women. Triple negative cancer is highly aggressive.

Though it can be driven to remission by radiation, surgery and chemotherapy, it often and rapidly returns, metastasizing to other organs.

This form of breast cancer gets its name because these cancer cells lack the three surface receptors that usually drive the growth of other breast cancers. That means drugs like tamoxifen won't work because they depend on these receptors to recognize the cancer cells and attack. Without them, the drugs are rendered useless.

Triple negative breast cancer cells resemble the basal cells that line the breast ducts. Women with a propensity for this cancer subtype can be identified with gene expression profiling.

Along with the higher incidence among certain ethnic groups, other risk factors include elevated waist-to-height ratio, excess weight gain since childhood, lack of breast-feeding after pregnancy and use of lactation suppressants.

Sadly there's now evidence women living in high crime areas face greater risk because they have higher levels of stress hormones. Cells from these women have elevated levels of glucocorticoid receptors which would prevent normal cell death leading to cancer.

There are many clinical trials testing new therapies for triple-negative breast cancer. The hope is they'll be as effective as current therapies are against other forms of breast cancer.

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For more information…

The Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation's mission is to raise awareness of triple negative breast cancer and to support scientists and researchers in their effort to determine the definitive causes of triple negative breast cancer, so that effective detection, diagnosis, prevention and treatment can be pursued and achieved. Their webpage provides basic information about this form of breast cancer and extensive links to additional sources of information. It also provide links to women who have been diagnosed with this form of breast cancer.
For more information…

There is additional information about triple negative breast cancer here. There are additional links to other sources of information and links to videos that provide useful information.

For information about the incidence of triple negative breast cancer among Hispanic and African American women go here.

The BreastCancer.org hosted an "Ask the Expert Online Conference" the transcript of which can be read here.


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