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J Cytol. 2019 Apr-Jun;36(2):84-88. doi: 10.4103/JOC.JOC_47_18.

Clinical and Cyto-Morphological Characterization of Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

Author information

Department of Pathology, LPS Institute of Cardiology, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Department of Surgery, GSVM Medical College, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Department of Pathology, GSVM Medical College, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India.



Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), despite being the uncommon subtype, contributes a major portion to mortality and associated with poor prognosis. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the cytological criteria for the diagnosis of TNBC through fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC).

Material and Method:

Clinical, cytological, histological, and immunohistochemical (IHC) data of 256 patients were evaluated, and patient were classified as TNBC and non-TNBC phenotype by IHC. All cytological specimens were reviewed for 12 criteria: cellularity, tubule/gland formation, syncytial clusters, large bare nuclei, nuclear atypia, chromatin pattern, cell borders, nucleolus, cytoplasm, lymphocytic infiltrate, calcification, and necrosis. The Fischer's exact test was used to show test association.


Out of 256 patients, 82 patients were TNBC, and 174 patients were non-TNBC. TNBC phenotype showed statistically significant association to cellularity, tubule/gland formation, syncytial cluster formation, bare nuclei, nuclear atypia, cell borders, lymphocyte infiltration, and necrosis.


FNAC can be helpful in making diagnosis of TNBC and along with ER, PR, HER2 characterization, helpful in planning treatment strategy, saving time, manpower, and resources in the patient management.


Breast carcinoma; estrogen receptor; fine needle aspiration cytology; progesterone receptor; triple negative breast cancer

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