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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

  • Alglen Thelex Garay Profile

    is it ok to refuse chemo or herceptin after surgery and ask for oral medication instead...

    Asked by anonymous

    Family Member or Loved One
    about 7 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Alglen,
      If you are asking is it ok to refuse the advise to have chemotherapy.... it is a personal decision. A patient can do whatever they choose. If you as saying a patient does not want to take the advise of their caregivers about chemo and --thinks-- taking an oral medication will be as...

      more

      Alglen,
      If you are asking is it ok to refuse the advise to have chemotherapy.... it is a personal decision. A patient can do whatever they choose. If you as saying a patient does not want to take the advise of their caregivers about chemo and --thinks-- taking an oral medication will be as effective as chemotherapy, they are dead wrong. Breast cancer is a very tough opponent and it has to be dealth with while your mom has the chance. This is her golden opportunity to throw everything there is at her cancer. There is no easy way out if she fights this. Chemo isn't fun but the side effects can be managed. My best friend chose not to have chemotherapy and she is dead. Surgery can only remove the primary tumor and lymph nodes. It is the cancer cells that may be circulating around her body the chemotherapy targets. Your mom shouldn't let breast cancer win by her being scared to DEATH by the treatment. I am extremely harsh sounding because I detest having breast cancer win and take one of my sisters. There isn't an easy way around a battle with breast cancer. Tell you mom, she has to fight like a real warrior. She really has more strength within her than she thinks. God's blessings, take care, Sharon

      5 comments
    • Erin Timlin Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I'm on herceptin and as far as I know there is no oral medication counterpart. Tamoxifen is given to women who have ER tumors. herceptin is given to women who have HER2 tumors. Chemo is your best bet against an aggressive form of breast cancer such as HER2 .

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    D-Dime test done yesterday. Slightly elevated - may have blood clots due Tamoxifen, anyone experience the same? Thanks.

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2B Patient
    over 6 years 2 answers
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Blood clots are a side effect of tamoxifen. I have not had any issues but I know one person that has she is on blood thinners

      Comment
    • anonymous Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      Just finished radiation dr appt next week and will start tamoxifen soon. Prayers to you, not looking forward to the next rd.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Is DCIS a pre cancer condition?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • joan jones Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 0 Patient

      I have dcis - one area .
      When I met with the surgeon - she said it was " cancer"
      My radiology oncologist - said " pre- cancer " as did my medical oncologist.
      My big word to hold onto is " noninvasive". I was an intermediate grade - estrogen positive and clear margins .
      It was recommended that I...

      more

      I have dcis - one area .
      When I met with the surgeon - she said it was " cancer"
      My radiology oncologist - said " pre- cancer " as did my medical oncologist.
      My big word to hold onto is " noninvasive". I was an intermediate grade - estrogen positive and clear margins .
      It was recommended that I have a lumpectomy , radiation and then tamoxifen.
      There is a lot of controversy as to treatment - over treatment / and method to select patients for treatment . Ask lots of questions - ESP your path report and take your time making decisions ....
      There is a lot on Internet ...so do some research- take your time to make decisions / best wishes !'

      1 comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      My oncologist calls it a precancer. However, if DCIS is left untreated, approximately 2/3 of the cases become invasive (cancer). As DCIS is treated with radiation & drug therapy (or possibly mastectomy if there are a number of areas of DCIS) it's immaterial as to whether it is cancer or...

      more

      My oncologist calls it a precancer. However, if DCIS is left untreated, approximately 2/3 of the cases become invasive (cancer). As DCIS is treated with radiation & drug therapy (or possibly mastectomy if there are a number of areas of DCIS) it's immaterial as to whether it is cancer or precancer -- it is taken seriously.

      4 comments
  • mary wightman Profile

    my mammo was abnormal i have to go for another mammo and ulyrs sound does mean I have breat cancer I am just so ill smpked and drank aged 65

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 3 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      HECK NO! I don't know how many times I have had to have another mammogram and ultrasound. There is just something that has either changed or they screwed up your mammogram and need another one. Try not to get too excited yet. At your ultrasound appointment, they will explain what they are...

      more

      HECK NO! I don't know how many times I have had to have another mammogram and ultrasound. There is just something that has either changed or they screwed up your mammogram and need another one. Try not to get too excited yet. At your ultrasound appointment, they will explain what they are looking at. Hang in there. I had breast cancer when I was 59 but I found it. This was 7 months after I had a mammogram and ultrasound. As for guilt tripping yourself because of bad habits.... I NEVER smoked or drank, no family history, led a squeaky-clean life and STILL got breast cancer. GUILT, is a wasted emotion.... hang in there and keep us posted. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Guilt can start a change whether you are diagnosed or not. Choose wisely for yourself. No reason not too but the talk in your head Hope it is clear.

      Comment

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