, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 254-259
Date: 06 Aug 2009

Clinicopathological characteristics of triple-negative breast cancers

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Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is defined as a group of breast carcinomas that are negative for expression of hormone receptors and HER2. Although patients with TNBC tend to have a poor prognosis, only chemotherapy is expected to be effective because no therapeutic targets have yet been established. DNA microarray analyses have proved that TNBCs are composed of the basal-like subtype and normal breast (or unclassified) subtype, the former being correlated with an aggressive clinical course. Histological types of TNBCs are reported to be common with those of basal-like subtype, comprising high-grade invasive ductal carcinoma, no special type [solid-tubular carcinoma (or atypical medullary carcinoma), invasive ductal carcinoma with a large central acellular zone], typical medullary carcinoma, and metaplastic carcinomas. The basal-like subtype is characterized by the expression of myoepithelial/basal markers and molecular changes including TP53 gene mutations, BRCA1 inactivation, and many chromosomal alterations. New target molecules for the treatment of TNBCs are under extensive investigation, and their clinical application is awaited.

This article is based on a presentation delivered at Symposium 3, “Triple-negative breast cancer,” held on 27 September 2008 at the 16th Annual Meeting of the Japanese Breast Cancer Society in Osaka.