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Inside the Lab Clinical care, Digital and computational pathology, Histology, Oncology, Precision medicine

Positive Steps to Tackle Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

At a Glance

  • Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is not a single entity, but rather multiple distinct molecular subtypes
  • Each TNBC subtype shows different alterations in gene expression and has the potential to  be targeted by different types of therapy
  • To develop better TNBC therapies, we need to establish exactly what constitutes “triple-negative” and find a cost-effective way of identifying such tumors
  • Digital image capture, artificial intelligence, and deep learning may help us spot patients who would benefit from TNBC targeted treatment

No two breast cancers are the same – and the more we learn about each type, the more we uncover the truth of that statement. Once classified only by location, then later by hormone receptor status, we are now discovering new molecular subtypes of each breast tumor. This includes the triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs), noteworthy for their lack of expression of nuclear hormone receptors and HER2. These tumors typically have poor outcomes and cannot be treated with hormone therapies like their positive counterparts; however, the discovery of multiple distinct molecular subtypes of TNBC means that detailed analysis could lead to better targeted treatment and, ultimately, improved outcomes for patients.

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About the Author

Jane Armes

Clinical Director, Tissue Pathology and Diagnostic Oncology, ICPMR, Westmead Hospital at NSW Health Pathology and Clinical Professor of Pathology, Sydney University Medical School, Australia.

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