Triple Negative Breast Cancer Diagnosis

The term “triple negative breast cancer diagnosis” is somewhat of a misnomer. Rather than being an official medical diagnosis, triple negative breast cancer refers to the cellular makeup of certain types of breast cancers, which can influence a patient’s prognosis. The pathology for these cancers usually shows that the cancer cells tested negatively for three specific hormone receptors: estrogen, progesterone and HER-2/neu.

One implication of a triple negative test result is that the presence of these hormones will not stimulate growth of the cancer. Another is that traditional breast cancer hormonal therapy, such as the use of tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors, is ineffective for treating these cancers. Surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy may still be recommended to treat triple negative breast cancer, and researchers are continually investigating new medications and therapies for this purpose.

The confirmation of any breast cancer diagnosis is the first step toward developing an appropriate treatment plan. At Moffitt Cancer Center’s breast clinic, our multispecialty team of experts utilizes highly advanced screening and diagnostic tools to evaluate a patient’s condition and recommend treatment. Our comprehensive services for the diagnosis of triple negative and all other forms of breast cancer include:

  • Digital mammography – Low-dose X-rays are taken by certified technologists, and the images are interpreted by board-certified radiologists using computer-aided detection (CAD).
  • Full-breast tomosynthesis – Three-dimensional mammography is used to capture breast images from several different angles.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – A large magnet, radio waves and a computer collectively produce detailed images of the breast structure.
  • Automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) – Three-dimensional ultrasound technology generates highly detailed images that can be helpful for evaluating dense breast tissue.
  • Fine needle aspiration – A sample of individual cells is removed with a thin needle, which is sometimes guided by ultrasound. These cells are then analyzed in a lab for certain characteristics, such as a lack of the three main hormone receptors.
  • Core biopsy – A needle-like device is used to remove several small cones of tissue for evaluation by a pathologist.
  • Stereotactic biopsy – Computer-guided imaging is used to locate a lesion, and then a tissue sample is removed via a puncture site that requires no stitches.
  • Surgical biopsy – A mass is surgically removed while a patient is under local anesthesia.

Throughout a patient’s diagnostic testing and treatment, our multispecialty breast cancer team meets weekly to continually monitor the patient’s progress and adjust his or her plan as necessary. This is one way that Moffitt is able to continually ensure the best possible care for each patient.

To discuss triple negative breast cancer diagnosis and treatment with the cancer experts at Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or request to schedule an appointment online. At Moffitt, you never need a referral.