A case report and literature review on a rare subtype of triple-negative breast cancer in children

BMC Pediatr. 2023 Sep 29;23(1):494. doi: 10.1186/s12887-023-04286-6.


Background: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a type of breast tumor with a poor prognosis because it lacks or expresses low levels of estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2). TNBC is more common in middle-aged and older women, and cases of TNBC in children are rarely reported. This is the only case of childhood SBC in our hospital in more than 70 years, and the disease is extremely rare internationally. We analyzed and studied the disease and TNBC from both clinical and pathological aspects and found that SBC is very different from TNBC.

Case presentation: We report a case of secretory breast cancer (SBC), a subtype of TNBC, in an 8-year-old girl from our institution. The child presented with a single mass in the left breast only, with no skin rupture and no enlargement of the surrounding lymph nodes. The child underwent two surgeries and was followed up for one year with a good prognosis.

Conclusions: SBC is highly prevalent among the multiple pathological types of pediatric breast cancer. Almost all pediatric SBC patients are characterized by the ETV6-NTRK3 fusion gene, which has a good prognosis and a 10-year survival rate of more than 90% when compared with other TNBC subtypes. According to the patient, we performed local mass resection and a postoperative pathological diagnosis of SBC (a subtype of BL-TNBC). The TNBC case had a good prognosis and differed from basal TNBC in several aspects, including clinical presentation, treatment, and prognosis. It is necessary to exclude SBC from BL-type TNBC, enhance understanding of the disease, and individualize the treatment plan, so as to avoid medical errors.

Keywords: Children; Secretory breast cancer; Triple-negative breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms* / therapy


  • Receptors, Estrogen

Supplementary concepts

  • Secretory breast carcinoma