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MYTHS VS. FACTS

ABOUT TRIPLE NEGATIVE BREAST CANCER

There are lots of myths surrounding a Triple Negative Breast Cancer diagnosis.

Let’s break it down with some facts! 

FACT: 

MYTH: 
Triple Negative Breast Cancer Is Always More Aggressive Than Other Subtypes.

While TNBC is often associated with a higher grade and more aggressive behavior, the prognosis varies depending on various factors. Some studies have shown that TNBC may have a higher likelihood of early recurrence, but not all TNBC cases are the same. A study published in the "Journal of Clinical Oncology" in 2014 found that TNBC patients who achieve a complete pathologic response after neoadjuvant chemotherapy have similar long-term outcomes to other breast cancer subtypes [1].

MYTH:
Triple Negative Breast Cancer Is Incurable

FACT:

TNBC is treatable, and many patients respond well to chemotherapy. While treating it can be more challenging because it lacks specific receptors, it doesn't mean it's incurable. A study published in the "New England Journal of Medicine" in 2018 demonstrated that the addition of immunotherapy (atezolizumab) to standard chemotherapy improved progression-free survival for TNBC patients [2].

MYTH: 
There Are No Targeted Therapies for Triple Negative Breast Cancer

FACT: 

While TNBC doesn't respond to traditional hormonal or HER2-targeted therapies, research is continually evolving, and immunotherapies are already a key component of many current treatment plans. And clinical trials are exploring targeted therapies and immunotherapies for TNBC. For example, the PARP inhibitor talazoparib has shown promise in clinical trials for BRCA-mutated TNBC [3]. These developments offer hope for more targeted treatments in the future.

MYTH:
Triple Negative Breast Cancer Only Affects Young Women

FACT:

While TNBC does occur more frequently in younger women, it can affect individuals of all ages. According to the American Cancer Society, the median age at diagnosis for TNBC is around 57 [4]. TNBC doesn't discriminate based on age, but we are seeing rising TNBC cases in those who are under 40. 

MYTH: 
Nothing Can Be Done to Reduce the Risk Of Triple Negative Breast Cancer Recurrence

FACT: 

While TNBC may carry a higher risk of recurrence, there are steps that patients and healthcare providers can take to reduce this risk. These may include adjuvant therapies, ongoing monitoring, and lifestyle choices (e.g., low alcohol consumption, limited red and processed meat, and regular exercise). Staying informed about your treatment options and actively participating in your care can significantly reduce the risk of recurrence.

As always, talk with your healthcare team to ask questions about your treatment plans and to learn more about TNBC.

 

Above all, remember that there is so much hope on this journey.

 

Reach out to the TNBC community of survivors and thrivers-

we are here and ready to support you!

References:

  • Cortazar, P., Zhang, L., Untch, M., Mehta, K., Costantino, J. P., Wolmark, N., ... & Von Minckwitz, G. (2014). Pathological complete response and long-term clinical benefit in breast cancer: the CTNeoBC pooled analysis. The Lancet, 384(9938), 164-172.

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  • Schmid, P., Adams, S., Rugo, H. S., Schneeweiss, A., Barrios, C. H., Iwata, H., ... & Emens, L. A. (2018). Atezolizumab and nab-paclitaxel in advanced triple-negative breast cancer. New England Journal of Medicine, 379(22), 2108-2121.

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  • Litton, J. K., Rugo, H. S., Ettl, J., Hurvitz, S. A., Gonçalves, A., Lee, K. H., ... & Blum, J. L. (2018). Talazoparib in patients with advanced breast cancer and a germline BRCA mutation. New England Journal of Medicine, 379(8), 753-763.

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  • American Cancer Society. (2021). Triple Negative Breast Cancer. [https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/understanding-a-breast-cancer-diagnosis/types-of-breast-cancer/triple-negative.html].

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