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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

    After Triple Neg. breast cancer treatment do you go back and see your surgeon or just the oncologist?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 5 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Lou Cam Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      My surgery was 18 months ago. I followed up with the surgeon for the first year. I am still following up with the plastic surgeon every six months. So far, I have been going to the oncologist every six months, after mammo, blood, and bone tests.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      After my post op. Checks my surgeon said there was no need to come back and see her. I then moved into the oncology part of treatment. This can probably differ from one case to the next. You just follow the guidelines of your treatment protocol. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Anyone have a chemo modification? Doc says its normal. I've completed 4/6 bearable tx but ended up with a fever & dehydrated after #4. Doc says if he doesn't do a mod I'll end up in the hospital, he's reducing my dose by 25% for last 2 tx, this normal?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2A Patient
    about 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Isabel Souchet Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      I had to stop my chemo at 5 tx instead of 6, i was just too sick n my blood work was awful. My onco felt that 5 was enough as i had a very small ICD tumor and would still had another 9 months of herceptin. It is very common, from what i understand, to modify treatment plan.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Sonia,
      As I call it ~a course correction~ they do happen all the time. It is quite common if a woman can't tolerate the chemotherapy, oncologists adjust the dosages or how many courses a patient has. Sounds like you have a very wise, intelligent, thoughtful oncologist. Don't worry, he is doing...

      more

      Sonia,
      As I call it ~a course correction~ they do happen all the time. It is quite common if a woman can't tolerate the chemotherapy, oncologists adjust the dosages or how many courses a patient has. Sounds like you have a very wise, intelligent, thoughtful oncologist. Don't worry, he is doing his job well. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • marie shackelford Profile

    How does breast cancer effect the body?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 2 answers
    • Unlucky Youth Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Having the cancer in your breast wouldn't really harm you and that's why when it's found early it's easier to treat. It becomes harmful when it spreads to vital organs of the body. Breasts are not vital organs so removing them would be an easy alternative to chemo or radiation if cancer was...

      more

      Having the cancer in your breast wouldn't really harm you and that's why when it's found early it's easier to treat. It becomes harmful when it spreads to vital organs of the body. Breasts are not vital organs so removing them would be an easy alternative to chemo or radiation if cancer was detected early. As you know 'cancer' starts with DNA mutation when cells reproduce. These cells do not do what they have to. They obstruct the orderly flow of your cells. These mutated cells can get activated by various ways to form cancerous cells. They reproduce really quickly and can spread to lymph nodes and organs or other place around your body. Depending on where they spread and their type, they do the damage. That's why monthly checkups are vital especially if cancer is present in the family history. My grandmother got breast cancer. She discovered it very early and had the choice to get her breast removed but she refused. She had chemo and she's as well as a butterfly now. That was a weird way to describe my grandmother, but I really do wish it could be that easy for everyone. I hope that partly cleared your question.

      5 comments
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I can't count the ways. It effects everyone differently. I knew something was really wrong 8 months before I was diagnosed with invasive lobular breast cancer. This kind doesn't make a lump so breast cancer wasn't the first thing we thought of. Check breastcancer.org they have great ...

      more

      I can't count the ways. It effects everyone differently. I knew something was really wrong 8 months before I was diagnosed with invasive lobular breast cancer. This kind doesn't make a lump so breast cancer wasn't the first thing we thought of. Check breastcancer.org they have great information.

      Comment
  • Gabriella Trovato-Oliver Profile

    I recently found a lump and am going through priliminary testing. My head is spinning. My mom was only 51 when it claimed her life 36 years ago. I am trying to stay positive, but I am more of the worse case scenario type of person.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 9 answers
    • View all 9 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I found it helpful to remember "I am in God's hands and there is no better place to be".
      You are not your mother and you are not a statistic, you are you and, as already stated, there have been huge advances in both detection and treatment. Take a deep breath, and take one step at a time. I will...

      more

      I found it helpful to remember "I am in God's hands and there is no better place to be".
      You are not your mother and you are not a statistic, you are you and, as already stated, there have been huge advances in both detection and treatment. Take a deep breath, and take one step at a time. I will pray for negative results on the tests, but if they are not negative, that is not the end. It is the beginning of a journey of healing.

      Mary

      2 comments
    • anonymous Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      First u gain nothing by being negative. Stay as positive in this situation as u can. Take care and I'll be saying a prayer for u.

      2 comments

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Breast cancer affects one out of every eight women in their lifetime.

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