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Nisha Unni, M.D. Answers Questions On Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Nisha Unni, M.D. Answers Questions On: Triple Negative Breast Cancer

What is triple negative breast cancer?

When breast cancer cells test negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and HER-2, we call the cancer triple negative. This means the three most common types of receptors that we know about are not present in the tumor, so treatments that target those receptors will not work. It can be an aggressive cancer, but it does respond to chemotherapy, particularly in the earlier stages.

What are the risk factors for triple negative breast cancer?

We’re not 100 percent sure of the driving force behind triple negative breast cancer, but it tends to occur more in BRCA1 gene mutation carriers, younger women, and African American women. Other factors may include body weight. The overall picture of associations between classic breast cancer risk factors and triple negative breast cancer is still unclear, emphasizing that much work needs to be done in this field.

Are there any promising treatments on the horizon for triple negative breast cancer?

We are studying platinum agents, specifically carboplatin, for the treatment of triple negative breast cancer. PARP inhibitors are being evaluated in clinical trials for patients with BRCA mutations and in triple negative breast cancer. In addition, we have trials looking at BKM inhibitors and their role in breast cancer.