Targeted Therapies for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

  • Tomas G. LyonsEmail author
Breast Cancer (EA Comen, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Breast Cancer

Opinion statement

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a particularly aggressive subtype of breast cancer. TNBC is a heterogenous subtype of breast cancer that is beginning to be refined by its molecular characteristics and clinical response to a targeted therapeutic approach. Until recently the backbone of therapy against TNBC has been cytotoxic chemotherapy. However, the breast oncology community is now seeing encouraging clinical activity from molecularly targeted approaches to TNBC. Recently, we have seen 3 newly approved targeted therapies for TNBC, including the PARP inhibitors olaparib and talazoparib for germline BRCA mutation associated breast cancer (gBRCAm-BC) and most recently the checkpoint inhibitor, atezolizumab in combination with nab-paclitaxel for programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1+) advanced TNBC. Improved biomarkers are needed to inform better patient selection for treatment with checkpoint inhibition. Higher response rates are seen when checkpoint inhibitors are combined with chemotherapy in the first-line setting and the use of these agents at an earlier stage of the disease does show promise. Antibody-drug conjugates are generating much excitement and may allow re-examination of prior cytotoxics that failed in development due to toxicity. Tumor sequencing is identifying potential molecular targets and ongoing studies are evaluating novel small molecule agents in this field such as AKT inhibition and many others. The treatment paradigm of chemotherapy as “one size fits all” approach for management of TNBC is changing based on molecular subtyping. Soon, the term TNBC may no longer be appropriate, as this heterogenous subtype of breast cancer is further refined by its molecular characteristics and clinical response to a targeted therapeutic approach.


Triple-negative breast cancer Targeted therapies PARP inhibition Immunotherapy Checkpoint inhibitor Antibody-drug conjugate AKT inhibition 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Tomas G. Lyons declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Breast Medicine ServiceMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA

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