European Radiology

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 1111-1117

First online:

Triple-negative breast cancer: correlation between imaging and pathological findings

  • Eun Sook KoAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, Korea Cancer Centre Hospital Email author 
  • , Byung Hee LeeAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, Korea Cancer Centre Hospital
  • , Hyun-A KimAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, Korea Cancer Centre Hospital
  • , Woo-Chul NohAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, Korea Cancer Centre Hospital
  • , Min Suk KimAffiliated withDepartment of Pathology, Korea Cancer Centre Hospital
  • , Sang-Ah LeeAffiliated withDepartment of Preventive Medicine, Kangwon National University

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This study was designed to investigate the mammography and ultrasound findings of triple-negative breast cancer and to compare the results with characteristics of ER-positive/PR-negative/HER2-negative breast cancer and ER-negative/PR-negative/HER2-positive breast cancer.


From January 2007 to October 2008, mammography and ultrasound findings of 245 patients with pathologically confirmed triple-negative (n = 87), ER-positive/PR-negative/HER2-negative (n = 93) or ER-negative/PR-negative/HER2-positive breast cancers (n = 65) were retrospectively reviewed. We also reviewed pathological reports for information on the histological type, histological grade and the status of the biological markers.


Triple-negative breast cancers showed a high histological grade. On mammography, triple-negative breast cancers usually presented with a mass (43/87, 49%) or with focal asymmetry (19/87, 22%), and were less associated with calcifications. On ultrasound, the cancers were less frequently seen as non-mass lesions (12/87, 14%), more likely to have circumscribed margins (43/75, 57%), were markedly hypoechoic (36/75, 57%) and less likely to show posterior shadowing (4/75, 5%). Among the three types of breast cancers, ER-negative/PR-negative/HER2-positive breast cancers most commonly had associated calcifications (52/65, 79%) on mammography and were depicted as non-mass lesions (21/65, 32%) on ultrasound.


Our results suggest that the imaging findings might be useful in diagnosing triple-negative breast cancer.


Mammography Ultrasound Triple-negative breast cancer Breast neoplasm Breast carcinoma Sonography