Triple-negative breast cancer--current status and future directions

Ann Oncol. 2009 Dec;20(12):1913-27. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdp492. Epub 2009 Nov 9.


Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is defined by a lack of expression of both estrogen and progesterone receptor as well as human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. It is characterized by distinct molecular, histological and clinical features including a particularly unfavorable prognosis despite increased sensitivity to standard cytotoxic chemotherapy regimens. TNBC is highly though not completely concordant with various definitions of basal-like breast cancer (BLBC) defined by high-throughput gene expression analyses. The lack in complete concordance may in part be explained by both BLBC and TNBC comprising entities that in themselves are heterogeneous. Numerous efforts are currently being undertaken to improve prognosis for patients with TNBC. They comprise both optimization of choice and scheduling of common cytotoxic agents (i.e. addition of platinum salts or dose intensification strategies) and introduction of novel agents (i.e. poly-ADP-ribose-polymerase-1 inhibitors, agents targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor, multityrosine kinase inhibitors or antiangiogenic agents).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1
  • Humans
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / genetics
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Progesterone / genetics
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism*
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Receptor, ErbB-2