, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 1071-1082
Date: 03 Apr 2009

The epidemiology of triple-negative breast cancer, including race

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Predictors of intrinsic breast cancer subtypes, including the triple-negative (TN) subtype, are largely unknown. We evaluated whether anthropometrics, demographics, and reproductive history were associated with distinct breast cancer subtypes.


Invasive breast tumors from a population-based case–control study of 476 (116 black and 360 white) Atlanta women aged 20–54, diagnosed between 1990 and 1992, were centrally reviewed and immunohistochemically analyzed for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2); then grouped [TN (ER−PR−HER2−); ER−PR−HER2+; ER/PR+HER2+; ER/PR+HER2− (case-only reference group)]. Data were from interviews and anthropometric measurements; adjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using logistic regression, including both case-only and case-control comparisons.


From the case-only analyses and compared with the ER/PR+HER2− subtype, women with TN tumors were more likely to be obese than normal/underweight [OR = 1.89 (95% CI = 1.22, 2.92)]. Regardless of HER2 status, ER−PR− tumors were associated with black race, young age at first birth, having a recent birth, and being overweight.


Distinct breast cancer subtypes have unique sociodemographic, anthropometric and reproductive characteristics and possibly different pathways for development.


The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.