Triple-negative breast cancer in Lebanon: a case series

Marwan Ghosn,Carla HajjJoseph KattanFadi FarhatFadi El KarakFadi NasrGerard Abadjian, and Georges Chahine


1Saint-Joseph University School of Medicine, Beirut, Lebanon.

PMCID: PMC3233289

PMID: 22020211



To determine the incidence, characteristics, and survival outcomes of triple-negative breast cancer patients in a medical oncology practice in Lebanon.


The pathology reports of all breast cancer cases diagnosed or treated in 1997–2008 were reviewed.


One hundred seventy breast cancer cases (9.3%) of the 1,834 cases that were identified in this practice over a 10-year span had a triple-negative phenotype, with a median age at diagnosis of 52 years. The pathology distribution of those cases was as follows: invasive ductal carcinoma, 85%; medullary carcinoma, 5%; invasive lobular carcinoma, 5%; 95 cases (63%) were grade III. At diagnosis, 17% presented with stage I, 47% had stage II, 24% had stage III, and 12% had stage IV disease, whereas 11% had an inflammatory component. After a median follow-up of 17 months, 43 patients (25.3%) had relapsed and the most common sites of relapse were the brain (19%), lungs (19%), and bones (12%). The risk for recurrence peaked at 1.5 years and became almost nil after 3 years. Twenty patients received induction chemotherapy, among whom six (42.9%) had a complete response and six (42.9%) had a partial response to treatment. None of the patients progressed on neoadjuvant chemotherapy. The 5-year disease-free survival rate was 75% for stage I, 58% for stage II, and 40% for stage III patients, whereas the 5-year overall survival rate was 88% for stage I, 72% for stage II, and 63% for stage III patients. Adjuvant therapy was administered to 96% of patients, using a taxane-based regimen in 38% of cases. The median survival time for stage IV patients was 19 months, with a first line taxane-based regimen used in 50% of cases.


The incidence of triple-negative breast cancer in Lebanon is similar to that described in the literature. In order to determine targets for future therapeutic options, it is essential to understand the biology of this particular breast cancer subtype.

Keywords: Breast cancer, Hormonal receptors, HER-2, Epidemiology, Survival

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosures: Marwan Ghosn: None; Carla Hajj: None; Joseph Kattan: None; Fadi Farhat: None; Fadi El Karak: None; Fadi Nasr: None; Gerard Abadjian: None; Georges Chahine: Sanofi, Roche, Novartis, Lilly, Pfizer (H).