Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Triple Negative

If I were playing the slots, three in a row could be a good thing – right? What are the odds of that!  Pretty exciting, no?

Well alright, obviously I am not talking about casino games and sadly in this case, it’s not such a good thing.

Triple negative has to do with the type of breast cancer you have.  It refers to the part of your pathology report that indicates if you are PR, ER or HER2 positive or negative.  And for those of you who may not have read my post on pathology reports, it has to do with what makes your cancer grow.  The ER is the Estrogen Receptor, PR is the Progesterone Receptor, and the HER2 receptor is a protein found on the surface of certain cancer cells.  

All three of these indicate what makes (and how) your cancer grow.  If you know what makes your cancer grow, you can find successful ways to treat it.

Triple Negative refers to all three ER, PR, and HER2 being negative and it is probably a breast cancer patient’s worst nightmare.  10-20 % of breast cancers are triple negative, so that’s about 1 out of 10. BUT triple negative is most commonly found in younger women under 40 or 50.  And according to various research for women in the USA, women under 40 have a 1 in 233 or .43% chance of developing breast cancer.  So that 1 out of 10 just became a little more prevalent.

This was a small miracle for me.  I did not have triple negative breast cancer.  For awhile reports indicated I was triple positive, but again small miracle here, I was not.  My husband’s step mother however did.  It can be a pretty scary thing. Triple negative is a faster growing and typically a higher grade cancer than most.  As well, it does not respond to some traditional treatment methods.

For many young women this can be a devastating reality.  I don’t know what is the right option for screening and early detection in women under 40, but surely learning all we can to recognize our risk and what those are is a good step.

Here are a few good links that better explain.

How Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Behaves and Looks 
You CAN Survive Triple-Negative  

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