What It Means to be Diagnosed with HER2 Positive Breast Cancer

Cancer, Health

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States. About 20% of breast cancers diagnoses are HER2 positive. Bladder cancer, gastrointestinal cancers, ovarian cancer and stomach cancer can also be HER2 positive.

HER2 positive breast cancer is more aggressive than other types of breast cancer and more likely to recur than HER2 negative breast cancer.  They’re less likely to be sensitive to hormone therapy.

HER2 positive breast cancer is defined by the presence of excess HER2 proteins. HER2 (human epidermal growth factor 2) is a protein that tells him cells when to grow and when not to grow. This type of cancer is called HER2.

When breast tissue has extra HER2 receptors, breast cells multiply too quickly. The growth may become uncontrolled and lead to a tumor. HER2 positive breast cancer has the same symptoms as other types of breast cancer.

How to Diagnose HER2 Positive Breast Cancer

To determine if the cancer is HER2 positive, your doctor will take a biopsy and a pathologist will examine cancerous cells more closely. Biopsy samples are tested for the presence of targetable hormone receptors and the HER2 protein.

Treatment for HER2 Positive Breast Cancer

Treatment for HER2 positive breast cancer depends on the tumor’s size. Treatments that specifically target HER2 are very effective. Treatments include Herceptin and Perjeta. Herceptin specifically targets the growth-promoting HER2 protein.