Tuesday, October 1, 2013

IS BREAST CANCER ONE DISEASE?



One of the most important discoveries concerning breast cancer has been the realization by many scientists that breast cancer is many diseases.

Have you heard of HER-2 and what does that mean if your cancer is HER-2 positive?

HER-2 stands for human epidermal growth factor receptor-2.  This protein can promote the growth of cancer cells.  One in every 5 breast cancers makes too much HER-2 due to a gene mutation.  This causes the cancer to be more aggressive; however treatment that specifically targets HER-2 is very effective.

This discovery was made by a group of researchers lead by Dr. Dennis Slamon, Head of the Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program.   He states that “ there is a molecular diversity of human cancers that has largely gone unappreciated , and it has gone unappreciated because we lump things together.”   Dr. Slamon and his team looked at this HER-2 protein and found that if an antibody was added to the receptor gene that had mutated , tumor growth dropped dramatically.   Hence the “ birth” of the drug Herceptin to treat HER-2 Positive breast cancers.

More and more we are learning about the genetics of breast cancer and how individualized each women’s cancer may be.  As we learn more about the molecular differences we are learning more about treatments for each individual patient.

If you would like to hear more from Dr. Slamon he will be a guest at  this year’s  Breast Cancer Coalition Conference at the Harrisburg Hilton on October 15, 2013.   This conference is open to patient’s and families as well as caregiver’s.   


More information:  PinnacleHealth Breast Care Center

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