HER2-Positive Breast Cancer Treatment
With recent advances in medicine, it is considered that HER2-positive breast cancer is curable. Targeted therapy is used to cure HER2-positive breast cancer. However, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and hormonal therapy may also be combined with targeted therapy depending on cancer aggressiveness.
What is HER2-positive breast cancer?
HER2 (also HER-2/neu or ErbB2) stands for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 and is one of a family of several receptor proteins. Breast cancer cells that are HER2-positive have extra copies of the HER2 gene and produce extra HER2 receptor proteins.
Too much HER2 protein is thought to cause cancer cells to grow and divide more quickly. If a person is diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer, it means they are likely to have high levels of the HER2 protein on the outside of the cancer cells. This signifies that breast cancer has spread beyond the breast, which can be in the liver, bone, lungs or potentially even the brain.
- Targeted therapies find and attack fast-growing cells that have certain receptors, such as the HER2 receptor.
- Most targeted therapies are given with chemotherapy because the combination is more effective.
Common targeted therapies for HER2-positive breast cancer
- It is administered intravenously and usually with chemotherapy.
- It attaches to the HER2 proteins and blocks the signals that enable cells to multiply too quickly, causing cancer.
- Treatment with trastuzumab and chemotherapy reduces the risk of recurrence of cancer by half.
- Common side effects include fever or chills, muscle aches, nausea, skin reactions at the site of injection, a low white blood cell count and diarrhea. A rare but serious side effect is heart problems.
- It is used when the disease is at an early stage. It is given at the same time as trastuzumab and the chemotherapy medicine Taxotere (docetaxel).
- Like trastuzumab, pertuzumab works by blocking signals that enable breast cancer cells to multiply and grow.
- Pertuzumab is given by vein to breast cancer patients, who have a high risk of recurrence.
- It can be given for early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer either as neoadjuvant therapy (which means the medicine is started before breast surgery) or adjuvant therapy (which means it is given only after breast surgery).
- The patient may be able to take pertuzumab as neoadjuvant therapy in the following cases
- If the cancer is larger than 2 centimeters across.
- Locally advanced, which means it has spread to nearby tissue or lymph nodes.
- If cancer is inflammatory (a type of breast cancer in the skin of the breast, where the breast looks red and swollen and feels warm to the touch).
- Pertuzumab may be given with trastuzumab for up to one year of treatment, either starting with neoadjuvant therapy and continued after surgery or given entirely after surgery.
- Common side effects include hair loss, diarrhea, nausea, rash, neuropathy and a low white blood cell count. Rare but serious side effects are heart and lung problems.
This medication is given to patients in situations where the above drugs failed to cure cancer.
This drug can penetrate the brain and improve outcomes for patients with brain metastasis.
What are the four types of breast cancer?
Breast cancer usually begins either in glands that make milk (called lobular carcinoma) or the ducts that carry it to the nipple (called ductal carcinoma). The cancer may grow and invade other areas around the breast, such as the skin or chest wall. Different types of breast cancer grow and spread at different rates.
There are several types of breast cancer and they are broken into two main categories: “invasive” and “noninvasive.” These two categories are used to describe the most common types of breast cancer, which include
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): DCIS is a noninvasive condition. With DCIS, the cancer cells are confined to the ducts in the breast and haven’t invaded the surrounding breast tissue.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS): LCIS is cancer that grows in the milk-producing glands of the breast. Like DCIS, the cancer cells don’t invade the surrounding tissue.
- Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC): This is the most common type of breast cancer. This type of breast cancer begins in the breast’s milk ducts and then invades nearby tissue in the breast. Once breast cancer has spread to the tissue outside milk ducts, it can begin to spread to other nearby organs and tissues.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma: It first develops in the breast’s lobules and invades nearby tissues.
Apart from the above four types, below are a few more types of breast cancer.
- Paget disease of the nipple: This type of breast cancer begins in the ducts of the nipple, but as it grows, it begins to affect the skin of the nipple.
- Phyllodes tumor: This is a rare type of breast cancer that grows in the connective tissue of the breast. Most of these tumors are benign, but some are cancerous.
- Angiosarcoma: This cancer grows on the blood and lymph vessels in the breast.
With the recent approval of drugs as first-line treatment, the prognosis of HER2-positive breast cancer has improved considerably. However, there is some concern about long-term cardiac toxicity as a side effect. In this new era of constantly rising health costs, it is also important to consider the cost-benefit ratio. Even if long-responding patients represent only a small group, it can be said that their numbers will grow in the future with the arrival of new drugs.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Can HER2-Positive Breast Cancer Be Cured Related Articles
Breast cancer is an invasive tumor that develops in the mammary gland. Breast cancer is detected via mammograms, breast self-examination (BSE), biopsy, and specialized testing on breast cancer tissue. Treatment of breast cancer may involve surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Breast cancer risk may be lowered by managing controllable risk factors.
What you should know about breast cancer
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women.
- One in every eight women in the United States develops breast cancer.
- There are many types of breast cancer that differ in their capability of spreading (metastasize) to other body tissues.
- The causes of breast cancer are unknown, although medical professionals have identified a number of risk factors.
- There are many different types of breast cancer.
- Breast cancer symptoms and signs include
- a lump in the breast or armpit,
- bloody nipple discharge,
- inverted nipple,
- orange-peel texture or dimpling of the breast's skin (peau d'orange),
- breast pain or sore nipple,
- swollen lymph nodes in the neck or armpit, and
- a change in the size or shape of the breast or nipple.
- Breast cancer can also be symptom free, which makes following national screening recommendations an important practice.
- Breast cancer is diagnosed during a physical exam, by a self-exam of the breasts, mammography, ultrasound testing, and biopsy.
- Treatment of breast cancer depends on the type of cancer and its stage (0-IV) and may involve surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.
Young Women & Breast CancerIs breast cancer genetic? Should I get tested for the BRCA gene? What every young women should know about breast cancer. Discover the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and other crucial breast cancer facts.
Breast Cancer Follow-Up Self-ExamA breast cancer follow-up self-exam is a test that may help a woman detect a recurrence of the disease. A woman should perform a monthly self-exam of both breasts as well as attend scheduled follow-up appointments to detect any breast cancer recurrence early. Lymph node involvement, tumor size, hormone receptor status, histologic grade, nuclear grade, and oncogene expression help determine the likelihood of a recurrence.
Breast Cancer SlidesLearn about breast cancer causes, symptoms, tests, recovery, and prevention. Discover the types of treatments such as surgery and drug therapies as well as the survival rate for breast cancer.
Breast Cancer QuizThis Breast Cancer Quiz features signs, symptoms, facts, causes, common forms, terms, risk factors, statistics, and more. Increase your awareness of breast cancer now!
Breast Cancer Facts
Breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer of American women, but it can also occur in men. Every year in the U.S., there are over 266,000 new diagnoses of breast cancer. A woman has a risk of one in eight for developing breast cancer at some point during her lifetime.
Breast Cancer StagesBreast cancer staging is the determination of the extent and spread of the cancer. An individual's health care team uses stages to summarize the extent of the cancer in a standardized way that is recognized by all health care providers. They use this staging to determine the treatment most appropriate for the type of cancer. Cancer staging helps to determine the prognosis, or outlook, of a cancer, including rates of recurrence and survival rates.
Breast Cancer TreatmentBreast cancer treatments depend upon the type of breast cancer that is present as well as the stage (extent of spread) of the tumor. Treatment for early breast cancer typically involves surgery to remove the tumor. After surgery, medical professionals may administer radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy.
Chemotherapy Treatment for Breast CancerChemotherapy refers to medications that are administered to kill or slow the growth of cancerous cells. Chemotherapy may be given orally or intravenously. Side effects of breast cancer chemotherapy may include nausea, vomiting, hair loss, increased risk of infection, fatigue, and easy bruising. Receiving chemotherapy causes changes in a woman's menstrual cycle.
Genetic Testing for Breast CancerIntensive genetic counseling is required before undergoing genetic tests for breast cancer. During this educational counseling session, the health care provider can fully explain the benefits and risks of genetic testing and answer any questions you may have. You will also be required to sign a consent form prior to participating in any genetic tests. The form is an agreement between you and your doctor, showing that you have discussed the test and how its results might affect your family.
Radiation Therapy for Breast CancerRadiation refers to high-energy rays that are directed at the breast to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. Radiation reduces the risk of local cancer recurrence in the breast. Potential side effects include skin redness, swelling, peeling, and fatigue. It is necessary to undergo follow-up exams and diagnostic X-rays after completing radiation therapy for breast cancer.
Role of Estrogen Receptors in Breast CancerEstrogen receptors (ERs) are receptors that are activated by the hormone estrogen (one of the female sex hormones). They are found most commonly in the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium), breast cells, ovarian cells, and a part of the brain (the hypothalamus).
What Is Usually the First Sign of Breast Cancer?A lump in the breast or in the armpits is often the first sign of breast cancer. This may be felt while in the shower. There may or may not be changes in the structure of the breast. Other early signs include changes in breast skin, breast pain and others.