Clinicopathological Characteristics of Triple Negative Breast Cancer at a Tertiary Care Hospital in India

  • Dogra, Atika (Department of Research, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre) ;
  • Doval, Dinesh Chandra (Departments of Medical Oncology and Research, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre) ;
  • Sardana, Manjula (Department of Laboratory and Transfusion Services, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre) ;
  • Chedi, Subhash Kumar (Department of Research, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre) ;
  • Mehta, Anurag (Department of Laboratory and Transfusion Services, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre)
  • Published : 2015.01.22


Background: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), characterized by the lack of expression of estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and human epidermal growth factor receptor-2, is typically associated with a poor prognosis. The majority of TNBCs show the expression of basal markers on gene expression profiling and most authors accept TNBC as basal-like (BL) breast cancer. However, a smaller fraction lacks a BL phenotype despite being TNBC. The literature is silent on non-basal-like (NBL) type of TNBC. The present study was aimed at defining behavioral differences between BL and NBL phenotypes. Objectives: i) Identify the TNBCs and categorize them into BL and NBL breast cancer. ii) Examine the behavioral differences between two subtypes. iii) Observe the pattern of treatment failure among TNBCs. Materials and Methods: All TNBC cases during January 2009-December 2010 were retrieved. The subjects fitting the inclusion criteria of study were differentiated into BL and NBL phenotypes using surrogate immunohistochemistry with three basal markers $34{\beta}E12$, c-Kit and EGFR as per the algorithm defined by Nielsen et al. The detailed data of subjects were collated from clinical records. The comparison of clinicopathological features between two subgroups was done using statistical analyses. The pattern of treatment failure along with its association with prognostic factors was assessed. Results: TNBC constituted 18% of breast cancer cases considered in the study. The BL and NBL subtypes accounted for 81% and 19% respectively of the TNBC group. No statistically significant association was seen between prognostic parameters and two phenotypes. Among patients with treatment failure, 19% were with BL and 15% were with NBL phenotype. The mean disease free survival (DFS) in groups BL and NBL was 30.0 and 37.9 months respectively, while mean overall survival (OS) was 31.93 and 38.5 months respectively. Treatment failure was significantly associated with stage (p=.023) among prognostic factors. Conclusions: Disease stage at presentation is an important prognostic factor influencing the treatment failure and survival among TNBCs. Increasing tumor size is related to lymph node positivity. BL tumors have a more aggressive clinical course than that of NBL as shown by shorter DFS and OS, despite having no statistically significant difference between prognostic parameters. New therapeutic alternatives should be explored for patients with this subtype of breast cancer.


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