The hormone receptor status of your breast cancer refers to whether your breast cancer cells are fueled by estrogen and/or progesterone (the naturally occurring hormones in the female body) due to unique proteins inside the tumor cells, called hormone receptors. When hormones attach to hormone receptors, the cancer cells grow.
If your cancer appears to be aggressive and fast-growing, you might have higher levels of a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, or HER2 for short. Some genes, like HER2, and the proteins they make, do more than play a role in the development of breast cancer. They can also influence how your breast cancer behaves as well as how it may respond to specific cancer treatments.
Usually, HER2 receptors help control how a healthy breast cell grows, divides, and repairs itself. However, if the HER2 gene doesn’t work correctly and produces too many copies of itself, it leads to the uncontrolled growth of breast cancer cells.
If your breast cancer is HER2-negative, you do not have an excess of the HER2 gene. Tumors such as these will not respond to therapies that specifically target HER2 receptors.
If your breast cancer is HER2-positive, then you have too much HER2 protein or extra copies of the HER2 gene. These breast cancers tend to be fast-growing. HER2-positive breast cancer treatment typically includes targeted therapy drugs that slow the growth and kill these cancer cells. HER2-positive breast cancers account for about 25% of all breast cancer cases.
Knowing your HER2 status will help your WVCI cancer care team create the best treatment plan for you.