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Monday, September 12, 2011 Gramme2004, Community Member, asks

Q: What are the most common symptoms of TNBC.....my Mom (75yrs - Cau) has just been diagnosed...she has tumors/knots on her skin - but nothing else shows up...just trying to figure this out.

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Answers (2)
Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
9/12/11 6:07pm

The symptoms of triple negative breast cancer are not any different than the symptoms of other forms of breast cancer.  The diagnosis is made when a lump or skin biopsy shows that the breast cancer cells don't have certain receptors.  No one could tell with a tumor is triple negative until the pathology report.  Although it is more common for breast cancer tumors to be within the breast, sometimes breast cancer shows up on the surface.  If she hasn't had surgery yet, it is possible that she has tumors deep within her breast where a mammogram can't see them.  That happened to me.  At the time of surgery, the doctor found two tumors on the chest wall.  I hope your mother's treatments go well.  Please let us know as you have additional questions about her treatments.

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
9/12/11 6:09pm

TNBC doesn't have a specific symptom that will let the average observer identify it - only via the tests that come with a pathology report can a TNBC diagnosis be made. When you say "tumors/knots on her skin," do you mean the skin of her breast? Because this doesn't sound like a breast cancer symptom, either; usually BC is identified via feeling a lump within your breast, or after a mammogram/biopsy.

 

Please read our page on breast cancer symptoms; hopefully you'll find information there that can help you. If not, please ask your question again, with more detail/background; and we'll try to answer it here, OK? Take care- PJH

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Gramme2004, Community Member
9/12/11 7:52pm

Thanks for the quick reply....Mom has had momograms yearly and was told that she had cyst in her breast but nothing to be concerned over.  The tumors started showing up in her chest, arm, and stomach area on January 29. She was having other medical issues (block Kidney Tube) and all the Dr. wanted to just watch the tumors and see what happened.  More stated showing up and a biopsy was done and cancer was diagnosed in March.  The best description that I can give is that their appearance would range from resembling a flat wart to looking like a BB under the skin - they didn't all look alike.  The first diagnoses was Adeno Carcinoma of unknow primary.  She took 4 rounds of chemo (taxol and carboplatin).  After the first round the tumors started going away but by the 4th round they were coming back.  She was not able to take any more chemo due to her blood levels being so low.  This is when we decided to go to UAB in Birmingham, AL and they were able to diagnose the TNBC.  She is schedule to start their clinical trials next Monday.....just hoping that she will respond. 

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
9/12/11 10:52pm

I'm glad she'll be at UAB - that's one of the top 50 cancer centers in the country, and I'm sure she'll get good care there. This sounds like a really unusual cancer, with what sounds like skin tumors scattered around in various areas; I'm not familiar with anything like this. Taxol and carboplatin is a typical chemo treatment for breast cancer; I'm sorry all the tumors didn't respond. Hopefully the clinical trial will be successful for her... I wish you both all the best on this journey. PJH

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
9/13/11 6:25am

I would trust UAB to recognize breast cancer cells when they see them.  It sounds like this is a metastasis in the skin from an undetected breast cancer tumor.  Usually in these situations a mastectomy is not done because it is more important to treat the cancer that has spread than any cancer remaining in the breast.  Fortunately, it sounds like your mother's cancer hasn't spread to any vital organs.  I hope that the clinical trial works for her.

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By Gramme2004, Community Member— Last Modified: 09/13/11, First Published: 09/12/11