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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

  • Thumb avatar default

    I have eczema pretty bad. Will it get worse with chemo?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2A Patient
    over 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • laura  bailey Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Hi Traci, I also have eczema (legs, back and face). If yours reacts like mine, then it will go away during chemo. I had a complete secession of that condition. That was one positive during chemo, completely clear of eczema! (It does come back after). Good luck! Laura

      1 comment
    • Alice Klobukowski Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      I have a tendency to get eczema. I think the steroids you take before, during, and after might help. I did get a bad rash on my scalp after one chemo. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic for that, so that wasn't eczema. Do you have any allergies to tape? If so, ask the nurses to use gauze...

      more

      I have a tendency to get eczema. I think the steroids you take before, during, and after might help. I did get a bad rash on my scalp after one chemo. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic for that, so that wasn't eczema. Do you have any allergies to tape? If so, ask the nurses to use gauze and paper tape instead their usual supplies.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I just filled my first prescription of Tamoxifen - $9.00 for 30 days at Kroger. Sigh... I am a bit nervous. I did read on European boards today that most ladies do not gain weight. Let's hope I have few side effects :) Radiation Girl

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2B Patient
    about 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      You'll be alright. It is a little tough in the beginning. Yoga and a fan will be your best friends.

      2 comments
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Stage 2B Patient

      Thank you Mary, what do you take for the night sweats and hot flashes? Thanks for your help. :)

      1 comment
  • Benz Somwong Profile

    What does Beta Glucan do to stop cancer and how does it work?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years Answer
  • laura manous Profile

    how do they know if it has spread to any nodes?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      They can do a sentinel node study where a radioactive dye is injected the day prior to surgery and see if any of them "light up" so to speak. They can also remove some and test them like my surgeon elected to do when she did my mastectomy.

      2 comments
    • Jennifer Edgarton Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2B Patient

      I recommend the PET scan - my sentinel nodes came back clear. In my case my cancer skipped the first set and went to the second set (small percent this happens) Until I had the PET scan and they found no cancer in other parts of my body but did find it in the nodes (4/16) I never had a feeling...

      more

      I recommend the PET scan - my sentinel nodes came back clear. In my case my cancer skipped the first set and went to the second set (small percent this happens) Until I had the PET scan and they found no cancer in other parts of my body but did find it in the nodes (4/16) I never had a feeling that I would get through this and survive. I just felt that there was more that was missing from the diagnosis and treatment plan.

      Trust your gut. Do what makes you feel better or comfortable together with your doctor. Make a plan together. Hugs and my thoughts are with you as you travel with us.

      Comment

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