Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC), defined by the absence of estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and HER-2 expression, account for 12% to 24% of all breast cancers. TNBC is associated with early recurrence of disease and poor outcome. Germline mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 breast cancer susceptibility genes have been associated with up to 15% of TNBC, and TNBC accounts for 70% of breast tumors arising in BRCA1 mutation carriers and 16% to 23% of breast tumors in BRCA2 carriers. Whether germline mutations in other breast cancer susceptibility genes also predispose to TNBC remains to be determined. Common variation in a subset of the 72 known breast cancer susceptibility loci identified through genome-wide association studies and other large-scale genotyping efforts have also been associated with risk of TNBC (TOX3, ESR1, RAD51L1, TERT, 19p13.1, 20q11, MDM4, 2p24.1, and FTO). Furthermore, variation in the 19p13.1 locus and the MDM4 locus has been associated with TNBC, but not other forms of breast cancer, suggesting that these are TNBC-specific loci. Thus, TNBC can be distinguished from other breast cancer subtypes by a unique pattern of common and rare germline predisposition alleles. Additional efforts to combine genetic and epidemiologic data are needed to better understand the etiology of this aggressive form of breast cancer, to identify prevention and therapeutic targets, and to impact clinical practice through the development of risk prediction models.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research