What can be done to prevent triple negative breast cancer?

While there is no proven way to completely protect yourself from developing triple negative breast cancer, there are things you can do to increase the chance that a cancer can be detected earlier when it is more easily treated. Despite the recent controversy about the value and timing of mammography and breast self-examination, both procedures play an important role in early detection.

For women age 40 and over, screening mammograms performed yearly will improve the ability to detect breast cancer before it spreads to other parts of the body. However, screening mammograms do not detect all breast cancers, especially in younger women. For this reason, regular breast self-examination and breast examination by a health care provider are important steps to take to find cancers that may be missed by mammograms. Examination is especially important in women under age 40 for whom screening mammograms are not usually recommended. However, regardless of age, women should speak to their health care provider about having a screening mammogram as well as a breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test if they fall into one of the at risk groups and have a family history of breast cancer.

For women with a familial form of breast cancer due to a BRCA gene mutation, having an annual MRI, in addition to a annual mammogram, will also improve the detection of breast cancer. Alternatively, BRCA gene mutation carriers may choose to undergo preventive (prophylactic) removal of the breast (mastectomy) with breast reconstruction.

Additionally, many studies show that exercising more than 1 hour each week (a little as 30 minutes of walking 3 days a week), eating a low fat diet with generous amounts of fruits and vegetables, losing excess body fat, and maintaining low stress levels all reduce the risk of developing triple negative breast cancer.