Ultrasonographic Features of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: a Comparison with Other Breast Cancer Subtypes

  • Yang, Qi (Cancer Center, The First Hospital of Jilin University) ;
  • Liu, Hong-Yan (Haidian Maternal & Child Health Hospital) ;
  • Liu, Dan (Changchun Mental Hospital, The First Hospital of Jilin University) ;
  • Song, Yan-Qiu (Cancer Center, The First Hospital of Jilin University)
  • Published : 2015.04.29


Background: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is known to be associated with aggressive biologic features and a poor clinical outcome. Therefore, early detection of TNBC without missed diagnosis is a requirement to improve prognosis. Preoperative ultrasound features of TNBC may potentially assist in early diagnosis as characteristics of disease. Purpose: To retrospectively evaluate the sonographic features of TNBC compared to ER (+) cancers which include HER(-) and HER2 (+), and HER2 (+) cancers which are ER (-). Materials and Methods: From June 2012 through June 2014, sonographic features of 321 surgically confirmed ER (+) cancers (n=214), HER2 (+) cancers (n=66), and TNBC (n=41) were retrospectively reviewed by two ultrasound specialists in consensus. The preoperative ultrasound and clinicopathological features were compared between the three subtypes. In addition, all cases were analyzed using morphologic criteria of the ACR BI-RADS lexicon. Results: Ultrasonographically, TNBC presented as microlobulated nodules without microcalcification (p=0.034). A lower incidence of ductal carcinoma in situ (p<0.001), invasive tumor size that is>2 cm (p=0.011) and BI-RADS category 4 (p<0.001) were significantly associated with TNBC. With regard to morphologic features of 41 TNBC cases, ultrasonographically were most likely to be masses with irregular (70.7%) microlobulated shape (48.8%), be circumscribed (17.1%) or have indistinct margins (17.1%) and parallel orientation (68.9%). Especially TNBC microlobulated mass margins were more more frequent than with ER (+) (2.0%) and HER2 (+) (4.8%) cancers. Conclusions: TNBC have specific characteristic in sonograms. Ultrasonography may be useful to avoid missed diagnosis and false-negative cases of TNBC.


Breast cancer;molecular subtypes;TNBC;neoplasms;ultrasonography


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