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UT shines light on difficult to diagnose, aggressive type of breast cancer

In honor of Triple Negative Breast Cancer Awareness Day, the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center will be hosting an event called “A Different Shade of Pink” from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3 on The University of Toledo Health Science Campus.

“The nature of this disease cries out for more attention and research,” said Dr. Iman Mohamed, UT professor and chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology. “We hope to educate and empower.”

An estimated 15 percent of all diagnosed breast cancers are triple negative breast cancer tumors.  This type lacks the three receptors commonly targeted in chemotherapy – estrogen, progesterone and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2.

The disease is often hard to diagnose because it is common in younger women and not always detected in mammograms.

“The receptors known to fuel breast cancer simply aren’t present,” Dr. Mohamed said.  “Compared to other types of breast cancer, triple negative breast cancers are usually more aggressive and not responsive to targeted therapeutic drugs.  Patients have a higher risk of recurrence and a shorter survival rate.”

Topics for the “A Different Shade of Pink” program include medical updates related to treatment options and clinical trials, as well as emotional, intimacy and survivorship issues.

UTMC patient Melissa Paskvan of Toledo was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2009 and has been in remission for six years.

“I found a lump by accident while scratching an itch at the age of 41,” Paskvan said. “My heart sunk. I knew it was cancer, but I had no idea it would be this rare form. I went through a lumpectomy, nearly four months of chemotherapy and 33 rounds of radiation.  At 48 years old, I am a survivor.  I am happy and relieved to have made it past the three-year mark. I only hope my story offers hope to newly diagnosed patients.”

To learn more about Paskvan’s story and how she raises money for triple negative breast cancer research, read her blog at

Media Coverage
13 ABC (March 4, 2016)


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