Very few triple negative breast cancer risk factors have been identified by medical researchers. In essence, a risk factor is any characteristic that can make an individual more susceptible to developing the condition. Triple negative cancers, which test negatively for estrogen, progesterone and HER-2/neu hormone receptors, constitute approximately 15 to 20 percent of all breast cancers. Virtually anyone can develop triple negative breast cancer, which can be more aggressive and challenging to treat than other types of breast cancer. However, the best defense is to become familiar with the look and feel of your breasts and promptly report any concerns to a physician. Triple negative breast cancer is believed to be more likely to affect people who:
- Are young – While the average breast cancer patient is diagnosed at age 60 or older, triple negative breast cancer often occurs in patients who are younger than age 50.
- Are of certain races – For reasons that remain unclear, individuals of African-American and Hispanic descent tend to develop the condition more often than Caucasians and Asians.
- Have the BRCA1 gene mutation – This inherited trait is believed to make the breast cells more likely to develop further genetic alterations that can lead to triple negative cancers.
Of course, risk factors only increase the likelihood that an individual may develop triple negative breast cancer. This is not to say that a person who has one or more risk factors will necessarily develop the condition, or that a person who has no risk factors will not. The multispecialty breast cancer team at Moffitt Cancer Center is available to assist patients in assessing their individual risk factors and answer any questions they may have, and we do not require referrals. As a nationally recognized leader in the research, diagnosis and treatment of all forms of breast cancer, Moffitt offers a comprehensive range of services for every aspect of cancer care in a single, convenient location.