Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting women, but did you know that there are various types of breast cancers. One such type is HER2-positive breast cancer, in which the breast cancer cells have more HER2 receptors (a particular protein found on the surface of cells) than normal breast cells.
About 1 of every 5 breast cancers is detected to be HER2-positive breast cancer. HER2-positive breast cancer is considered aggressive because it grows and spreads quickly.
Knowing as much as you can about your breast cancer type helps you best work with your doctor/physician/oncologist to optimize treatment. HER2 status testing is done on a biopsy sample taken from the tumour. There are two ways to test HER2 status: Immunohistochemistry (IHC) that measures the amount of HER2 protein in the cancer cells and Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) that looks at the number of copies of the HER2 gene in the cancer cells. The FISH test helps confirm the diagnosis and guide treatment.
The type of breast cancer is important to guide your doctor to plan appropriate cancer treatment. Treatment for HER2-positive cancer tends to be less responsive to hormonal treatment. This could be because HER2-positive breast cancer tends to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer. However, treatments that specifically target HER2 are effective. Drugs that specifically block HER2 to stop the growth of cancer cells are called HER2-targeted therapies. Examples of these drugs include trastuzumab, lapatinib, pertuzumab, and ado-trastuzumab emtansine.
When educating yourself about HER2-positive breast cancer, explore online resources and patient related information. Experienced survivors can provide both information and support. Be sure your oncologist is also knowledgeable and up-to date on research developments, and don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion.
Iamher2.com is a one-of-a-kind initiative from Sorento Healthcare Communications Pvt Ltd, to provide support to HER2 positive breast cancer patients. The initiative is a completely unbiased support service which will help HER2 positive breast cancer patients and their caregivers to get encouraged in opting for the right treatment for their condition. IamHER2 helps patients with an ecosystem of resources to facilitate expert opinion, affordable testing, counselling, chat with other survivors, and treatment along with all the other ancillary services required like counselling, nutrition, psychological support etc.
About the author
Dr Rasika Bhat