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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

  • A Sky Profile

    Anyone had bi-lateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction? How long did it take to recover? I'm 4 weeks post-op. Still painful. Doc still has to drain fluid. Can't drive. Feel like it's taking me too long to get better.

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 1 Patient
    over 6 years 8 answers
    • View all 8 answers
    • A Sky Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      Argh. I hid send too soon. I had the 650cc silicone I,

      Comment
    • laura  bailey Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Hi you are right on track. The other ladies have great advise. You have been through a LOT, give yourself a break. This is not something you recover from in a few days. But, you will be feeling better and better gradually. Happy Thoughts! Laura

      Comment
  • dinah frey Profile

    I am taking letrazole and I am extremely tired,irritable and in pain. Is that normal?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 6 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Dinah,
      What you are experiencing is very common. Letrozole side effects can be so lousy, you have to be switched to another type of drug. I did last the entire 5 years but not without much discomfort. Mine came in the form of a hot flash every single hour. I lived by having small fans...

      more

      Dinah,
      What you are experiencing is very common. Letrozole side effects can be so lousy, you have to be switched to another type of drug. I did last the entire 5 years but not without much discomfort. Mine came in the form of a hot flash every single hour. I lived by having small fans throughout my house. Arrrrgh.... don't beat yourself up if you can't stand the side effects, many women have problems with that drug. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Linda Green Profile
      anonymous
      Patient

      Oh yea! I call it the pill from h***!. I finally gave in and tried a low dose of Effexor which helped with flashes and bone pain, but it too had side effects I couldn't handle so stopped it.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Diagnosed with invasive tubular carcinoma with a more severe invasive lobular carcinoma, what are my treatment options?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 3 answers
    • Evelyn Heilbrunn Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      Gosh, treatment options depend on so many factors and usually are different with everyone. You don't mention what Stage your cancer is, but with ITC and ILC I would imagine you'll be in for surgery, radiation, and chemo. Beyond that I really can't say either how long any treatment will last, or...

      more

      Gosh, treatment options depend on so many factors and usually are different with everyone. You don't mention what Stage your cancer is, but with ITC and ILC I would imagine you'll be in for surgery, radiation, and chemo. Beyond that I really can't say either how long any treatment will last, or what type of surgery you'll have.

      My personal recommendation, and what I did, is to be aggressive. Go for whatever they recommend and push for anything more that is reasonable and that your doctor will agree to. Best of luck to you, and keep us posted!

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Evelyn is so right in everything she has said. There are so many options but the primary ones are surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy, and radiation to wipe out any cancer cells that might have escaped from the original site. Those are the big three. It all depends on the individual...

      more

      Evelyn is so right in everything she has said. There are so many options but the primary ones are surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy, and radiation to wipe out any cancer cells that might have escaped from the original site. Those are the big three. It all depends on the individual cells in your type of breast cancer. The treatment is really tailored made just for you. Thankfully, "one size doesn't fit all" when it comes to breast cancer treatment. They really try to target your type that way it is the most effective all the way around. It doesn't matter what type of breast cancer you have, it is a tough, nasty opponent that does not play fair. You have to kick it as hard as you can right now.
      You put on your big girl panties and fight like a real warrior. Hang in there darlin' you have a big sisterhood standing behind you. YOu go girl! May God and His legion of angels go with you! Love and prayers, Sharon

      Comment
  • Maggy Mendivil Profile

    The FDA aproved Perjeta ( Pertuzumab) a new option for HER2 patients. There is more hope for us.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 7 years 2 answers
    • sally fakih Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Yeah i heard that before we all hope so. God is good

      Comment
    • laura auclair Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I start perjuta , herceptin and chemo today...praying for success!!

      1 comment

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