Breast Cancer 2021
Breast cancer incidence has recently increased by 0.5% per year in the United States and remains the second leading cause of cancer death in women. If the disease is caught early, women with non-metastatic breast cancer have a survival rate of nearly 99%. When considering the prognosis for breast cancer, understanding the hormone status and analyzing the genes of cancer cells provide valuable information in guiding treatment decisions.
Clinically, breast cancer is not a singular disease and is comprised of 3 general subtypes:
Hormone receptor-positive (estrogen receptor-positive or progesterone receptor-positive) cancer cells have receptors that are sensitive to either estrogen or progesterone and can be treated with hormone therapy that blocks the growth of these cells. Estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer accounts for up to 75% of breast cancers. The use of genetic testing with these cancers has assisted tremendously in predicting how the cancers will respond to therapy.
HER2-positive cancer cells have too much of a protein called HER2, which can accelerate cancer cell growth. Targeted therapies, such as Herceptin, have significantly improved the ability to treat HER2 positive breast cancer and the disease is now more manageable.
Triple-negative breast cancer cells test negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and excess HER2 protein. However, Immunotherapy drugs (e.g., Keytruda) are effective in treating this disease. The medications stimulate the immune system, thereby enhancing a patient’s immune system in identifying and eliminating cancer cells.
About Women’s Cancer Research Foundation
The Women’s Cancer Research Foundation (WCRF) is one of the most active research organizations in the nation. We are dedicated to studying and evaluating novel treatments for women afflicted with breast, ovarian, endometrial, and cervical cancers. The WCRF persistently endeavors to make a difference in women’s lives by offering them hope, strength, and progress.
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