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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

  • Caroline Foster Caubet Profile

    How do I tell my kids?

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 1996
    almost 9 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Caroline Foster Caubet Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 1996

      When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my daughters were between 16 and 6. What could they hear? Obviously the message could not be the same for each one of them. I spoke to each one individually, without pronouncing the word "cancer". Their questions did come with time and I answered...

      more

      When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my daughters were between 16 and 6. What could they hear? Obviously the message could not be the same for each one of them. I spoke to each one individually, without pronouncing the word "cancer". Their questions did come with time and I answered with simple words. What I wanted them to understand was that I was very sick, that I was fighting hard and that there was a pretty good chance that I would win the battle. I tried to give a message of hope. 15 years later, we talk about it and they say they appreciated understanding progressively.

      1 comment
    • Elise Merchant Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Well ive just turned 12 and my mum was diagnosed on January 05 2011 and i was 11 at the time and she came in and said to me- a soon as she got back from the hospital- Ellie theyve found a lump and so we hugged and then i asked is it cancer and she said it was. i was greatful that she told me...

      more

      Well ive just turned 12 and my mum was diagnosed on January 05 2011 and i was 11 at the time and she came in and said to me- a soon as she got back from the hospital- Ellie theyve found a lump and so we hugged and then i asked is it cancer and she said it was. i was greatful that she told me straight out that it was and that she was going to be fine :)

      1 comment
  • Megan Eastman Profile

    What is the youngest age to get breast cancer at?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 7 answers
  • Terri Miller Profile

    As you go thru the chemo treatments, do the side effects progressively get worse?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Terri,
      Just as Michele said, we are all different. I didn't have cumulative effects I had a week where I felt like I had the flu and then got better. It depends on how your body handles the chemo and how it recovers from each treatment. Take care Sharon

      Comment
    • Isabel Souchet Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      Yes everyone is different. Mine got worse each treatment. Ive met people that really did well. My onco said i was an exception, i had every side effect.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I just had a double mastectomy last week for bilateral breast cancer. My left breast was progesterone and my right breast was HER2 . Do you think I need to have chemo now?

    Asked by anonymous

    almost 5 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • sharon s Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Hey debbie.

      I was triple positive and stage 3 in 2013. I did it all. Chemo and rads.

      Remember, we all do the best we can.

      Be brave as you learn more.

      Comment
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      That is a question you need to discuss with your oncologist.

      Comment

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Breast cancer affects one out of every eight women in their lifetime.

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