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Curr Oncol. 2011 Aug;18(4):e173-9.

Triple-negative breast cancers: an updated review on treatment options.


Morphologic features of tumour cells have long been validated for the clinical classification of breast cancers and are regularly used as a "gold standard" to ascertain prognostic outcome in patients. Identification of molecular markers such as expression of the receptors for estrogen (er) and progesterone (pgr) and the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (her2) has played an important role in determining targets for the development of efficacious drugs for treatment and has also offered additional predictive value for the therapeutic assessment of patients with breast cancer. More recent technical advancements in identifying several cancer-related genes have provided further opportunities to identify specific subtypes of breast cancer. Among the subtypes, tumours with triple-negative cells are identified using specific staining procedures for basal markers such as cytokeratin 5 and 6 and the absence of er, pgr, and her2 expression. Patients with triple-negative breast cancers therefore have the disadvantage of not benefiting from currently available receptor-targeted systemic therapy. Optimal conditions for the therapeutic assessment of women with triple-negative breast tumours and for the management of their disease have yet to be validated in prospective investigations. The present review discusses the differences between triple-negative breast tumours and basal-like breast tumours and also the role of mutations in the BRCA genes. Attention is also paid to treatment options available to patients with triple-negative breast tumours.


Triple-negative breast tumours; chemotherapy; epidermal growth factor receptor

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