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Breast Cancer

 
Breast Cancer

Chapter: 3 - Breast Cancer

Subchapter: 2 - Growth of Cancer

The growth and spread of cancer can be difficult to grasp because cancer cell growth is fueled by usually healthy chemicals of the body. Medical professionals usually illustrate these chemicals with complex diagrams and scientific formulae. But let’s simplify it: circles are estrogen, squares are progesterone, and triangles are the HER2/neu gene. These three bodily chemicals can stimulate the growth of breast cancer tumors.

Receptors
To understand how these chemicals fuel cancer cell growth, we must first define something called a ‘receptor’.

Here is a simplified illustration of a cancer cell. Notice the receptors for estrogen and progesterone. Think of a receptor as a mouth: when open, cancer cells can feed and grow. When blocked off, the same cells begin to starve. This particular cancer cell feeds off of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Now, this is a protein that is involved in cell growth, the HER2/neu protein. When a breast cell has more than two copies of this gene, the genes begin overproducing the HER2/neu protein. As a result, the affected cells rapidly grow and divide, forming a tumor.

By identifying the cancer’s unique receptors, your doctor can recommend effective treatment methods to block the receptors. Remember, inhibiting the cancer’s “food supply” works to restrict the cancer’s growth. More information about specific hormone treatments will be discussed in Sub-chapter 6.10.

Related Questions

  • hope crystal Profile

    what does radiation do to breast cancer?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 4 years 2 answers
    • joan jones Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 0 Patient

      I had lumpectomy with good margins but radiation was recommended " to be sure" ... there wiil be no recurrence and they got all the cancer cells .

      My radiation team I saw - described themselves as " the sanitation crew" as they " cleaned up" after everyone else !
      Everything we do - everything...

      more

      I had lumpectomy with good margins but radiation was recommended " to be sure" ... there wiil be no recurrence and they got all the cancer cells .

      My radiation team I saw - described themselves as " the sanitation crew" as they " cleaned up" after everyone else !
      Everything we do - everything they recommend is to help stop those cancer cells and prevent reoccurrence . They are trying to give us the best life forward in spite of the pink ribbon diagnosis ....
      Think temporary and > wellness !
      Best wishes ! Keep us posted !

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Same as other post.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Diagnosed in August of this year had my lumpectomy on 10/24/12, now have to go back on 11/7/12 to have surgery for lymph nodes is this normal ?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 1 Patient
    over 5 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Coco Smith Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      In Australia the surgeries occur at the same time - we get the radiotracer injection the day before or the morning of our surgery, for small tumours a guide wire is inserted under local anaesthetic to identify the tumour location accurately for the surgeon, a low compression mammogram image is...

      more

      In Australia the surgeries occur at the same time - we get the radiotracer injection the day before or the morning of our surgery, for small tumours a guide wire is inserted under local anaesthetic to identify the tumour location accurately for the surgeon, a low compression mammogram image is taken also to assist with surgical tumour location, then once we are in the surgical theatre and have been given the general anaesthetic, a wand is waived over our armpit to detect the hottest radioactive node, it is then removed, often felt by hand for rice like graininess [a sign of cancer cells] and sent off to pathology for testing while the lumpectomy is being done. The results for the sentinel node are phoned back to the theatre - if the sentinel node is clear of cancer, normally no more nodes are taken and we are stitched up. If the sentinel node has cancer cells, then they normally remove nodes till they get to the point where they appear cancer free. It is like working your way through a bunch of grapes.
      The in-surgery sentinel node pathology testing I referred to has a false negative rate of 5-10% ie., the node reads as clear but later and more thorough pathology testing may detect cancer cells. The in-surgery node testing is done by slicing the nodes into fine slices, and examining them but it is always possible for cancer cells to hide inside slices, or outside the slices being examined and also for the technician to make a human error and not see cancer cells. So that is one reason I can think of why someone could be called back for more extensive node removal. The remaining nodes sample are usually sent off with the excised tumour for deeper pathology testing. That can throw up more issues.

      It is not clear from your question if you have the sentinel node testing done at the time of your lumpectomy or not.

      There may well be other legitimate reasons for returning for a separate operation to remove your lymph nodes , but the first thing I would do is ask the surgeon to tell you why it all was not done in the one procedure, with the one general anaesthetic for you to recover from and one off work/recuperation period?
      You deserve very clear statements in that explanation.
      I sincerely hope it has nothing to do with the surgeon maximising their income by performing two separate operations, requiring two lots of general anesthesia on you, longer recovery period, more stress, more time off work etc.
      Then you can make up your mind if the answers you received are convincing, reasonable and stack up to professional practice or not.

      Comment
    • julie s Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      Did they take any lymph nodes at time of lumpectomy? What was the status of those?

      Comment
  • Mary Anne Babicky-Bouton Profile

    Has anyone found a lump in other breast while going through final radiation treatments? Have 5 more to go and found something/lump in right breast. Had lumpectomy on left side in Jan.

    Asked by anonymous

    stage_4 Patient
    about 5 years 3 answers
    • André Roberts Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      No, I have not. I had a bilateral mastectomy. But you know your body best. If there are changes - or you feel something, get it checked. Better to be safe than sorry. Prayers to you.

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Check with your medical onc or radiation onc. From what I understand it's unlikely that you'll get cancer in the opposite breast. But check for peace of mind!

      Comment
  • Ginna Taylor-Manuel Profile

    my daughter has stage 4 breast cancer how bad is this

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 5 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Chapter 5 on the learn tab(on this web site) has some really good information. It is all about stages. The web site breastcancer.org has wonderful information when I was diagnosed and didn't have a clue about this journey.

      Comment
    • Rita Siomos Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I too had stage 4 and my doc told me it was a good thing because the chemo will work better... I don't know how true that is but I have finished all my treatment know and feel great. God bless xoxo

      Comment

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