Hearing the words “breast cancer” can bring about a lot of emotions. It can be helpful to have a better understanding of what breast cancer is, and how triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is different.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer occurs when the cells in your breast start to grow unusually or uncontrollably. Most breast cancer starts in ducts that carry milk to the nipple. Others start in glands that make breast milk. As more cancer cells grow, they can form into a tumor.

As the disease advances, it may spread to the areas around your breast. If the cancer cannot be removed with surgery, it is referred to as unresectable locally advanced breast cancer. The cancer can also spread to other parts of your body. This is called metastatic breast cancer.

How is triple-negative breast cancer different?

There are many different types of breast cancer. For example, estrogen receptor (ER) positive and/or progesterone receptor (PR) positive breast cancer cells grow by responding to certain hormones. Cells can also have too much of a certain protein called HER2 found on them. Metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (mTNBC) is a type of breast cancer that does not have ER, PR, or large amounts of HER2. This can make it hard to treat because there are no known proteins for cancer drugs to target.

What are some of the symptoms of breast cancer?

There can be many different symptoms associated with breast cancer. It is important to be aware of what they are so you can discuss them with your healthcare provider.

The most common symptoms of breast cancer, including mTNBC, may include:

  • A new lump or mass
  • Swelling of all or part of a breast
  • Skin irritation or dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel)
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Nipple retraction (turning inward)
  • Redness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)

When breast cancer spreads to lymph nodes, it can cause other symptoms, which may include a lump or swelling under the arm or around the collarbone.

Experiencing the above symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have breast cancer. However, it is very important to talk to your healthcare team if you experience any of these symptoms. Your healthcare team has the knowledge and the tools needed to make the appropriate diagnosis.

TECENTRIQ is an option in the type of mTNBC that expresses a protein called programmed death-ligand 1, or PD-L1. TECENTRIQ is believed to work in a way that targets PD-L1.

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