Just a few months before learning that she had breast cancer, Christina Applegate got a shocking insight into the struggles faced by other young women also at high risk for the disease -- and who don’t have the resources of a Hollywood celebrity.
Because her mother had battled breast cancer and ovarian cancer, Applegate had been going for regular mammograms since age 30. “But when I turned 36, my doctor said that my breasts were just too dense for mammography alone, and he referred me for screening...
About 75% of all breast cancers are “ER positive.” They grow in response to the hormone estrogen. About 65% of these are also “PR positive.” They grow in response to another hormone, progesterone.
If your breast cancer’s cells have a significant number of receptors for either estrogen or progesterone, your cancer is considered hormone-receptor positive and likely to respond to endocrine therapies.
Breast cancer tumors that are ER/PR-positive are 60% likely to respond to endocrine therapy. Tumors that are ER/PR negative are only 5% to 10% likely to respond to endocrine therapy.
Endocrine therapies for breast cancer are treatments usually taken after surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation are finished. They are designed to help prevent recurrence of the disease by blocking the effects of estrogen. They do this in one of several ways.
The drug tamoxifen, taken by some women for up to 10 years after initial treatment for breastcancer, helps prevent recurrence by blocking the estrogen receptors on breast cancer cells and preventing estrogen from binding to them.
A class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors actually stops estrogen production in post-menopausal women. These drugs cannot be taken by women who have not yet gone through menopause.
HER2-Positive Breast Cancer
In about 20% to 25% of breast cancers, the cancer cells make too much of a protein known as HER2. These breast cancers tend to be much more aggressive and fast-growing.