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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

  • Thumb avatar default

    what does the mass look like on the ultrasound screen?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 3 years 1 answer
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      It depends what kind of "mass" it is. You could have dense breasts and that would show up a certain way. Cysts are usually "black holes" on an ultrasound with borders that are smooth. I think it is very difficult to make sense of an ultrasound if it is anything other than a cyst. If you want...

      more

      It depends what kind of "mass" it is. You could have dense breasts and that would show up a certain way. Cysts are usually "black holes" on an ultrasound with borders that are smooth. I think it is very difficult to make sense of an ultrasound if it is anything other than a cyst. If you want cancer described again.... it depends on what kind of breast cancer. My ultrasound was done and I had an immediate biopsy. Even though I did have a cancerous tumor, it was never clear to me other than It did have irregular borders on it.

      If your ultrasound doesn't look right, you are scheduled for a biopsy. Even at that.... having to have a biopsy DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE CANCER! Many women have biopsy's and they come back NOT cancer. If a doctor or radiologist can't tell by a non invasive test, they then have to take some cells out of the suspicious area and send it to a lab. Did you have a mammogram and you are being sent to have an ultrasound? It's scary but so often these turn out to be nothing but a fluid filled cyst. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • Diana Foster Payne Profile

    Hi all. I had my DIEP flap recon Fri. surgery & going home today. Long 16 hr surg. But worth it. Been through so much since may of 2010. Love all my "sisters". Hugs and prayers at what ever stage you're in at this moment, Diana

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 4 Patient
    over 5 years 14 answers
    • View all 14 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Dear, Dear, Diana,
      SOOOOO happy this very long treatment journey has reached a completion! You get the gold star girl-warrior helmet for doing heroic battle and wearing that bright shining smile! You did it girl, you made it. You shared your experiences and your knowledge with all of us and we...

      more

      Dear, Dear, Diana,
      SOOOOO happy this very long treatment journey has reached a completion! You get the gold star girl-warrior helmet for doing heroic battle and wearing that bright shining smile! You did it girl, you made it. You shared your experiences and your knowledge with all of us and we have benefited from it. God's blessings on you forever!!! Love and pony-hugs, Sharon

      Comment
    • Cheryl Wornham Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      That's great

      Comment
  • leslie adkins Profile

    What lotion is good after radiation? Thinking of trying bag balm.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 5 years 9 answers
    • View all 9 answers
    • leslie adkins Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I'm all done with radiation. Started the 5 year pill, and personal healing, therapy. No more docs, etc for awhile.

      2 comments
    • Jk Joyce Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      Aquaphor was the best for me and recommended by my onc. I had second degree burns after I finished rads. Healed fast.

      Comment
  • Nabega Nankema Profile

    I am 17 and have breast cancer, I am afraid I will die. Help.

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 1 Patient
    over 6 years 8 answers
    • View all 8 answers
    • Ky'a Jackson Profile
      anonymous
      Family Member or Loved One

      Hi Nabega. You post touched my heart! I do not have breast cancer but I am supporting a woman that does and I can tell you this...it is very important to work with your doctors, eat right, stay positive and know that you are a FIGHTER. It is important to keep your body, mind and soul strong for...

      more

      Hi Nabega. You post touched my heart! I do not have breast cancer but I am supporting a woman that does and I can tell you this...it is very important to work with your doctors, eat right, stay positive and know that you are a FIGHTER. It is important to keep your body, mind and soul strong for this battle but you can win it! Be strong my sister! :)

      Comment
    • Liz Carolan Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I was 19 the first time I was diagnosed. It's hard especially when you're young. Treat it aggressively. Hopefully you caught it early.

      Comment

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