The Importance of Early Detection for Triple Negative Breast Cancer

On Triple Negative Breast Cancer Day (TNBC) and throughout the year, let's come together to raise awareness about the importance of early detection for TNBC and support those who are affected by this disease.

TNBC is a subtype of breast cancer that is characterized by the absence of three receptors: estrogen, progesterone, and HER2. This makes TNBC more aggressive and difficult to treat than other types of breast cancer. Approximately 10-20% of all breast cancer cases are estimated to be TNBC.

Early detection of TNBC is critical because it is more treatable in the early stages of the disease. When TNBC is detected early, it is more likely to be confined to the breast tissue, making it easier to treat with surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Screening for TNBC

Screening for breast cancer is typically done through annual clinical breast exams with your primary care doctor and/or gynecologist and annual mammography starting at age 40 for normal risk individuals. Additional imaging tests, such as breast ultrasound and breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be ordered based on your breast characteristics and your risk of breast cancer. Your doctor will determine the best tests for you based on your individual risk factors.

Understanding the symptoms and risks for triple negative breast cancer help you and your doctor better diagnose and treat your cancer. 


TNBC may present with different signs and symptoms than other types of breast cancer. These may include:

  • A new lump or mass.

  • Swelling in all or part of a breast.

  • Dimpled skin.

  • Breast or nipple pain.

  • Nipple retraction (when your nipple turns inward)

  • Nipple or breast skin that’s dry, flaking, thickened, or red.

  • Nipple discharge that is clear or bloody and not breast milk.

  • Swollen lymph nodes. This symptom happens when breast cancer spreads to the lymph nodes under your arm or near your collarbone.

Risk Factors:

While the exact cause of TNBC is unknown, some lifestyle changes may help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, including:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

  • Exercising regularly

  • Limiting alcohol consumption

  • Not smoking

  • Breastfeeding, if possible

Triple-negative breast cancer can affect anyone but is more likely to show up in those who are:

  • People younger than age 50 

  • People who are Black or Latino

  • People who are living with a genetic condition called BRCA mutation have an increased risk for breast cancer and other forms of cancer. 

While anyone can be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer it is important to understand your risk and if you are experiencing any symptoms. Triple-negative breast cancers can pop up or be felt quickly and may occur between screening mammograms. So even if you are up to date on your mammogram screening but feel something—get medical attention as soon as possible!

Personalized Treatment

Treatment for TNBC depends on the stage of the disease and other factors, such as the patient's overall health and medical history. In general, TNBC is treated with a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

At NY Breast Health, our team of experienced breast cancer specialists are dedicated to providing personalized treatment plans for patients with TNBC and other types of breast cancer. Early detection, personalized treatment plans, and ongoing support are key to successful outcomes for our patients.

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