How Are They Characterized?
When breast cancers are characterized, they’re usually defined based on their receptor status. So they’re going to be hormone positive breast cancers, which means they have an estrogen or progesterone receptor and how much versus the absence of those, which is hormone negative, as well as if they are positive for HER2. That’s the third receptor.
We’re looking at three things, ER – estrogen, PR – progesterone, and HER2. If you’re negative for all three, you have what’s called triple negative breast cancer. And that is a more aggressive and difficult cancer to treat. The reason is you don’t have a target to basically starve the cancer or kill it by attacking the ERPR receptors or the HER2. It’s always going to involve cytotoxic or generalized chemotherapy plus minus radiation.
The thing about triple negative is, if you’re cancer free after five years, the recurrence rate is pretty darn low. Like you’re pretty sure that you were cured after that five-year mark. Whereas as opposed to hormone positive, it can come back 10 years, 12 years, 15 years. So if you can get through that part, getting the curative setting and make it to five years with your triple negative breast cancer, you’ve really beat something that was otherwise aggressive.
1. Breast cancers are characterized based on their receptor status.
2. We look at three things, ER – estrogen, PR – progesterone, and HER2.
3. If you’re negative for all three, you have triple negative breast cancer, which is more aggressive and difficult cancer to treat.
4. If you’re cancer free after five years with triple negative, the rate of it coming back is pretty low.