This isn’t your common type of breast cancer. Not the pink ribbon types. Some researchers say its not breast cancer but “a cancer in the breast”.
Sam has TNBC or Triple Negative Metaplastic Breast Cancer. Even after two rounds of “Red Devil” chemotherapy the tumor had grown to over 4.4 cm.
Triple negative means basically that it will not respond to therapies that target genetic weaknesses in the cancer susceptible to hormones as such they test negative for estrogen and progesterone receptors, as well as for the HER2/neu protein.
A somewhat less technical description can be found here from Hopkins Medicine. Excerpted below:
- Metaplastic breast cancer is a rare form of breast cancer, accounting for fewer than 1% of all breast cancers.
- Metaplastic tumors are often, though not always, “triple-negative”, which means that they test negative for estrogen and progesterone receptors, as well as for the HER2/neu protein.
- Metaplastic tumor cells are often found to be high grade, which means that they look very different from normal cells and are dividing rapidly.
- Metaplastic tumors are, on average, larger at diagnosis.
- More often than in other kinds of breast cancer, women with metaplastic breast cancer can have metastasis (when the cancer has spread beyond the breast) and may be more likely to recur (come back later in another part of the body).
Here is a Youtube video about Triple Negative Metaplastic Breast Cancer.
Being so rare, effective standard therapies don’t exist. That is why the clinical trials such as the ARTEMIS program that Samantha is entered are so important. Not just to Sam but for others that follow.