What is Triple-Negative Breast Cancer?

Triple-negative breast cancer is a type of invasive (infiltrating) carcinoma of the breast (usually invasive ductal carcinoma, IDC) that does not have the three most common receptors known to "fuel" breast cancer, estrogen, progesterone, and HER-2.

IDC starts in a milk duct, breaks through the wall of the duct, and invades the tissue of the breast. Invasive ductal carcinoma is the most commonly diagnosed breast cancer, accounting for about eight out of 10 cases of invasive breast cancers.

Triple-negative breast cancers tend to grow and spread more quickly than other types of breast cancer. Because of this, triple-negative breast cancer is more aggressive than other forms of breast cancer.

Symptoms of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Triple-negative breast cancer may be discovered on a mammogram before presenting any symptoms. However, some women may have symptoms including:

  • Changes in the breast shape
  • Mass or suspicious finding on a mammogram
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Discharge from the nipple
  • Nipple inversion
  • Swelling of the breast
  • A lump
  • Thickening of the nipple skin
  • New crease in the breast

Other Names for Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Invasive breast cancer, infiltrating breast cancer.

For those TN breast cancers that are ductal, invasive ductal carcinoma or infiltrating ductal carcinoma may also be used.