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Clinicopathologic features of triple negative breast cancers: an experience from Pakistan

Atif Ali Hashmi1, Muhammad Muzzammil Edhi2, Hanna Naqvi1, Naveen Faridi1, Amna Khurshid1 and Mehmood Khan3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Histopathology, Liaquat National Hospital and Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan

2 Liaquat National Hospital and Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan

3 Dhaka Medical College, Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Diagnostic Pathology 2014, 9:43  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-9-43

Published: 28 February 2014



Young age breast cancers are quite prevalent in our setup, a significant number of which exhibit triple negative phenotype. These cancers behave in an aggressive fashion and unresponsive to targeted adjuvant therapy. We aimed to evaluate clinical and histopathologic features of triple negative cancers in our population.


We retrospectively evaluated 1104 cases of primary breast cancers. Immunohistochemical studies for ER, PR and Her2neu followed by Her2neu gene amplification by FISH testing were done to identify 205 (18.6%) cases of triple negative breast cancers.


Mean age for triple negative breast cancer patients was 48.4 years (±12.3) and 60% of patients were diagnosed at less than 50 years of age. Although ductal carcinoma was the most frequent histologic type, a meaningful number of cases exhibited metaplastic and medullary like features (10.7% and 5.9% respectively). Similarly geographic necrosis involving more than 40% of tumor and extensive lymphocytic infiltration was a considerable finding. Mean Ki67 index was 45.2% (±25.2) and as a reflection of tumor grade, a significantly higher proportion of cases (66.3%) were under high risk Ki67 category (>30%).


Triple negative breast cancers typify high grade breast cancers with a higher frequency of atypical medullary and metaplastic histologies. Their prevailing occurrence at a younger age raises question of under lying BRCA mutations in our population. Therefore, we suggest that risk factors including BRCA 1 mutations should be uncovered in reproductive age group breast cancers especially those disclosing basal like phenotype.

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Triple negative breast cancer; Basal breast cancer; ER; PR; Her2neu