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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

  • Niharika Sharma Profile

    My mom today got diagnosed with Infiltrating duct Carcinoma Nuclear Grade 2/3.I have no idea about cancer. We are consulting doctors but want to know how long does the treatment take and how painful it is.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 3 years 1 answer
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      There are some great videos on this site that explains some things in easy to understand terms. Everyone's cancer is unique to them so treatments are made for them and them only. I'm not sure where you live but does you facility have a breast patient navigator? They are trained to help...

      more

      There are some great videos on this site that explains some things in easy to understand terms. Everyone's cancer is unique to them so treatments are made for them and them only. I'm not sure where you live but does you facility have a breast patient navigator? They are trained to help patients get through things such as appointments, treatments, etc. Everyone too handles treatment(s) and the pain differently.

      2 comments
  • Kristin Nida Profile

    Does having breast cancer affect your period?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 2 answers
    • Betsy Chapin Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      Chemotherapy can affect your period. Depending upon ones age, chemotherapy can thrust a patient into early menopause with all the "wonderful" side effects of menopause. The closer one is to menopausal age when starting chemotherapy, the less chance periods will return when treatment is finished.

      Comment
    • Nancy Snowden Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Tamoxifen also affects your period. I am 41 and have been on tamoxifen for two years. I have not had a period since October of last year. Each person is unique so be sure to check with your doctor.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    do both breast hurt if u have breast cancer

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 6 years 1 answer
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      There are a lot of reasons your breasts can hurt. Get it checked by the doctor.

      Comment
  • Yashmira Devine Profile

    Had a bilateral mastectomy 5 weeks ago and feel numbness on my right arm down to the tips of my fingers. Anyone have a similar experience? What should I do?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 1 Patient
    over 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Elaine Mills Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2B Patient

      Wow.... you are the seventh person I have run into that had this happen also. I think... and this is just a THINK, that our bodies are made like wound rubber bands, and when that God-made construction is interrupted it causes problems. I had a double mastectomy, and my husband tells me I...

      more

      Wow.... you are the seventh person I have run into that had this happen also. I think... and this is just a THINK, that our bodies are made like wound rubber bands, and when that God-made construction is interrupted it causes problems. I had a double mastectomy, and my husband tells me I complained of the numbness within a few days, although I don't remember that early on. Just recently, I had a nerve study done that said I "all of the sudden developed carpal tunnel." I NEVER had carpal tunnel problems before the surgery. I have very strong and healthy hands as a musician. I was reduced to not being able to play my instruments or hold on to a dish without potentially dropping and breaking it.

      I fought having surgery on my hands, because the pain was all the way up my arms, and my right one would wake me with crazy pain. I eventually talked to my breast surgeon, who was also a hand specialist, and he prescribed Neurontin, which saved my life! I also had to succomb to the surgery. Right hand done and improving, and left hand scheduled for a few weeks out.

      Best wishes for all you have to go through. THis disease sucks, as does every thing that goes along with it. Please let me know how you do! I pray you don't have to go through an additional surgery. We have a facebook page called, "We Are Sisters" that is for survivors only. I have found it to be a sweet support. Joann Pearsall leads the page, and she is a Godsend.

      2 comments
    • Rita Jo Hayes Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2009

      I had major numbness down to my elbow. With self physical therapy exercises they sent home with me eventually limited up to just my under arm. I had 12 nodes removed. If you are taking chemo it can cause numbness. I had major numbness in my fingers and toes from the chemo. Ask your Ono team....

      more

      I had major numbness down to my elbow. With self physical therapy exercises they sent home with me eventually limited up to just my under arm. I had 12 nodes removed. If you are taking chemo it can cause numbness. I had major numbness in my fingers and toes from the chemo. Ask your Ono team. I felt lucky to just have the numbness as I did not have problems with lymphadema. Good luck.

      Comment

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

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