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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

  • Crystie Goldsmith Profile

    Regarding previous question. ? I have a pea shaped lump near nipple, smooth doesn't hurt or move I'm 52

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 6 years 1 answer
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      I had one near the nipple years ago. My doc at the time said it would be very unusual to be cancer in that area but had it biopsied just to be sure. It was a cyst. It's still there but smaller.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Can a person still have get cancer in there lymph nodes under the under arms after a mastectomy?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Dear Norma,
      Yes. I had 5 sentinel nodes removed but the surgeon warned me there was a small chance I could have cancer cells in any of my axillary nodes. Again the chance was very small. Since I am 5 years out now, I am fairly sure they were ok since I have not had a recurrance. Every time I...

      more

      Dear Norma,
      Yes. I had 5 sentinel nodes removed but the surgeon warned me there was a small chance I could have cancer cells in any of my axillary nodes. Again the chance was very small. Since I am 5 years out now, I am fairly sure they were ok since I have not had a recurrance. Every time I have gone to my oncologist or internist, they have always checked my axillary lymph nodes for any swelling. Breast cancer is so very sneaky, I would not be surprised for it to raise its ugly head somewhere, sometime in my life. Arrrgh. God willing, I hope not. God's blessings to you, take care, Norma, Sharon

      1 comment
    • vicki e Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2B Patient

      I had a mastectomy five years ago and hada recurrence in my lymph nodes this past February so the short answer is yes . Unfortunately.

      3 comments
  • Rebecca Buell Profile

    How likely am I to get breast cancer if it runs in my family?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 2 answers
    • Laura Gaspard Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      If you have a grandmother, mother, sister, or daughter who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, this does put you in a higher risk group. Have a baseline mammogram at least five years before the age of breast cancer onset in any close relatives, or starting at age 35. See your physician at any...

      more

      If you have a grandmother, mother, sister, or daughter who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, this does put you in a higher risk group. Have a baseline mammogram at least five years before the age of breast cancer onset in any close relatives, or starting at age 35. See your physician at any sign of unusual symptoms.

      Comment
    • Adrienne private Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 3C Patient

      Also, you can consider getting genetic testing for the brca gene, which puts one at higher risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Some insurance companies pay for the test.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    If a woman scratches her breast nipple and the surrounding observing a scaling stuff could it be a symptom of breast cancer

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 5 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      We can't tell you what this is. There is a type of breast cancer that does have some changes to skin but it is rare. Check with your doctor.

      Comment
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      Any changes to one's body should be checked by a doctor.

      Comment

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

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