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Estrogen and Progesterone Receptor Tests

When a breast biopsy shows that cancer is present, other tests are used to find out which treatment will work the best.

Estrogen and progesterone receptor (ER/PR) tests identify whether hormones affect the way the cancer grows. The hormones estrogen and progesterone stimulate the growth of normal breast cells and some breast cancers. Breast cancer cells that lack these receptors (ER-negative and PR-negative cancers) are much less likely to respond to treatment with such medicines as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors. ER/PR-positive tumors have these receptors and are more likely to respond to treatment with tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors.

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The results of estrogen and progesterone receptor tests help your doctor decide whether to use hormone therapy to stop the cancer from growing.

Other tests that may be done at the same time include those for HER-2/neu and multi-gene tests, such as Oncotype DX and MammaPrint.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology
Last Revised June 28, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 28, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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