The incidence of breast cancer in Malaysia and other Asian countries is on the increase, reflecting lifestyle changes some of which are known risk factors for the development of breast cancer. Most breast cancers are amenable to adjuvant therapies that target hormone receptors or HER2 receptors on the surface of the cancer cells and bring about significant improvement in survival. However, approximately 17% of Malaysian women with breast cancer, present with tumours that are devoid of these receptors and are consequently termed ‘triple negative’ breast cancers. These triple negative breast cancers typically occur in women of a younger age than receptor positive cancers, are predominantly of high grade tumours and the prognosis is usually poor. There is therefore a pressing need to understand the biological pathways that drive these tumours, in order that effective strategies are developed to treat these aggressive tumours. With the increasing affluence of developing countries, obesity and Type II Diabetes are also on the rise. These diseases are associated with an increased risk of developing a range of cancers including those of the breast. In particular, the metabolic syndrome has been shown to be associated with triple negative breast cancer. This article reviews some of the metabolic pathways and biomarkers which have been shown to be aberrantly expressed in triple negative breast cancer and highlights some of the ongoing work in this area.
Dean, S. J., & Rhodes, A. (2014). Triple negative breast cancer: The role of metabolic pathways. Malaysian Journal of Pathology, 36(3), 155-162