When it comes to breast cancer, chemotherapy is usually one of the treatment options that’s considered to be fairly effective. However, this is not the case with a particular form of the disease known as triple-negative breast cancer. While doctors will still use chemotherapy as the primary form of treatment, there is a higher chance of it being ineffective than with other forms of breast cancer. The good news is that it’s not the end of the road if chemotherapy doesn’t work for you.
What Exactly Is Triple Negative Breast Cancer?
Generally, breast cancer can be defined by the receptors it has to one or more of three possible hormones in the body. These are estrogen, progesterone, and human epidermal growth factor (HER2).
The presence of these receptors makes it easier for your doctor to determine which type of hormonal treatment to start with to destroy the cancer cells. Hormonal therapy is usually the first course of action as it’s the gentlest of the options and can be effective in the earliest stages.
With triple-negative breast cancer, however, there are no receptors for any of those three hormones and so hormonal therapy will not be effective.
Why Do Doctors Recommend Chemotherapy?
Apart from not being receptive to hormonal therapy, triple-negative breast cancer tends to be a more aggressive form of cancer. That means it has been known to progress quickly and spread from the breast tissue to other organs.
To deal with this, doctors often have to use aggressive treatment methods such as chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and surgery. Of these methods, chemotherapy is used most often as it’s effective regardless of the stage of the disease.
If you’re going to need surgery, chemotherapy may also be used to reduce the size of the tumors to reduce the risk of complications during the procedure.
The Reason Chemotherapy Doesn’t Always Work
While chemotherapy is the go-to treatment for triple-negative breast cancer, it’s only effective in 50% of patients. In the other half, the cancer cells either don’t respond at all or respond partially, making it easier for the disease to