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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

  • Parth Parikh Profile

    I have triple negative breast cancer.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 1 answer
    • Ali S Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Me too, at age 31. I'm now cancer free after the summer of chemo, lumpectomy, now radiation just in case. Triple neg usually responds to chemo, mine was nearly gone before my final chemo infusion
      Best wishes

      1 comment
  • Penny Walton Profile

    Anyone experience issues with major short-term memory loss and total lack of ability to focus after initial diagnosis? Is it stress?

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2014
    about 7 years 8 answers
    • View all 8 answers
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Yes, yes, and oh yeah!!!! This is a stressfull situation then you add meds and chemo that make the whole thing worse. Write yourself notes, take a listener to all appointments, cut yourself a lot of slack. I found meditation and later yoga helped with a lot. I think it gets better with time or I...

      more

      Yes, yes, and oh yeah!!!! This is a stressfull situation then you add meds and chemo that make the whole thing worse. Write yourself notes, take a listener to all appointments, cut yourself a lot of slack. I found meditation and later yoga helped with a lot. I think it gets better with time or I got used to the new me. My worst day was the day I forgot to feed and water my horse and chickens. That is a chore I've been doing since I got married 37 years ago. My students didn't mind when I forgot to give a test. It is OK to feel this level of stress now in awhile it will turn into strength and you will figure out what you are fighting for. We are all warriors. God Bless your journey

      1 comment
    • André Roberts Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      Yes Penny probably all of us. It's the stress that starts it, then it becomes 'chemo brain'. Sometimes I can't think of the simplest of things - like what an object is called - oh yeah, those are keys. Or the words to finish a sentence. My husband fills in the blanks as much as he can figure out....

      more

      Yes Penny probably all of us. It's the stress that starts it, then it becomes 'chemo brain'. Sometimes I can't think of the simplest of things - like what an object is called - oh yeah, those are keys. Or the words to finish a sentence. My husband fills in the blanks as much as he can figure out. Prayers to you.

      2 comments
  • sharon ayers Profile

    Is chemo always necessary if you are HER2 positive?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 10 answers
    • View all 10 answers
    • Isabel Souchet Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      I know you have to do herceptin, which i did for a year. I also had chemo as I had a very small tumor (0.7cm) that was invasive ductal carcinoma. It depends on the tumor, size and many other factors. Don't let being her2 scare you, my oncologist said herceptin is a miracle drug and being her 2...

      more

      I know you have to do herceptin, which i did for a year. I also had chemo as I had a very small tumor (0.7cm) that was invasive ductal carcinoma. It depends on the tumor, size and many other factors. Don't let being her2 scare you, my oncologist said herceptin is a miracle drug and being her 2 was not bad.

      2 comments
    • Betsy Chapin Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      I also had stage 1 cancer, HER2 positive. I had a lumpectomy, chemo and radiation(in that order). I am not sure if HER2 positive patients always are a candidate for chemo, but your doctor will advise you on the best treatment for your situation. I also was in a medical trial where I did not get...

      more

      I also had stage 1 cancer, HER2 positive. I had a lumpectomy, chemo and radiation(in that order). I am not sure if HER2 positive patients always are a candidate for chemo, but your doctor will advise you on the best treatment for your situation. I also was in a medical trial where I did not get herceptin, but was given an oral medicine, lapatnib instead.

      Comment
  • Courtney C. Profile

    How close are we to finding a cure?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Ana Naluh Andrade Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Unfortunately, I don't think there's dedication at all on finding a cure for cancer in general. There is researches on new treatments, new medications, less invasive procedures. But meanwhile the pharmaceutical industry makes millions with diseases, nobody will give up the profits for the cure....

      more

      Unfortunately, I don't think there's dedication at all on finding a cure for cancer in general. There is researches on new treatments, new medications, less invasive procedures. But meanwhile the pharmaceutical industry makes millions with diseases, nobody will give up the profits for the cure. When you know that 1 (one) session of chemotherapy runs around $30,000/$40,000, you understand what I mean!

      Comment
    • Shannon Key Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I'm so glad to hear that someone else thinks like my survivor friends and myself!

      Comment

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