HER2-Positive Breast Cancer

A Targeted Approach to Treatment

HER2-Positive Breast Cancer is a subtype of breast cancer characterized by an overexpression of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) protein on the surface of the cancer cells. HER2 is a gene that plays a role in cell growth and proliferation, and when amplified or overexpressed, it can lead to more aggressive tumor growth. About 20% of all breast cancers are HER2-positive.

Characteristics of HER2-Positive Breast Cancer HER2-positive breast cancer has several distinct features:

  1. Overexpression of the HER2 protein, which promotes rapid cancer cell growth and division
  2. Tends to grow and spread more quickly than HER2-negative breast cancers
  3. Higher risk of recurrence and metastasis compared to HER2-negative breast cancers
  4. Responds well to HER2-targeted therapies, leading to improved outcomes

Symptoms of HER2-positive breast cancer are similar to other types of breast cancer and may include a lump or mass in the breast, changes in breast size or shape, skin dimpling or irritation, and nipple changes or discharge.

Diagnosis and Treatment 

Diagnosing HER2-positive breast cancer involves a biopsy to determine the presence and extent of HER2 overexpression. This is done through specialized tests, such as immunohistochemistry (IHC) or fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH).

Treatment for HER2-positive breast cancer typically involves a combination of therapies, including:

  1. HER2-targeted therapies, such as trastuzumab (Herceptin), pertuzumab (Perjeta), and ado-trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla), which specifically target the HER2 protein
  2. Chemotherapy, often given in combination with HER2-targeted therapies
  3. Surgery, such as lumpectomy or mastectomy, to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue
  4. Radiation therapy to reduce the risk of local recurrence after lumpectomy

The development of HER2-targeted therapies has significantly improved outcomes for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer, leading to longer survival rates and a reduced risk of recurrence.

Survivor Spotlight:
Rina, India

“On March 28, 2018, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35, which we later learned was stage 2 with Her2+. On Wednesday, April 16 2018, I had a lumpectomy. On Wednesday, May 17 2018, I began chemotherapy.”

Rina’s story showcases the rapid sequence of events that often follows a breast cancer diagnosis and the resilience required to navigate the treatment journey. Her experience serves as a reminder of the importance of timely access to care and the power of a positive mindset in the face of adversity.

Living with HER2-Positive Breast Cancer: Support and Empowerment 

A diagnosis of HER2-positive breast cancer can be life-altering, and it’s essential for individuals to have access to comprehensive support services, including:

  1. Emotional support through counseling, support groups, and peer mentoring
  2. Educational resources to understand the unique aspects of HER2-positive breast cancer and its treatment options
  3. Assistance with managing side effects, such as fatigue, nausea, and peripheral neuropathy
  4. Survivorship care to address long-term physical and emotional needs after treatment

Empowering oneself with knowledge and advocating for personalized care are crucial aspects of living with HER2-positive breast cancer. This may involve seeking second opinions, participating in clinical trials, and openly communicating with healthcare providers about concerns and preferences.

At Learn Look Locate, we are committed to providing informative resources and fostering a supportive community for those affected by HER2-positive breast cancer. By sharing the latest research, connecting survivors, and promoting patient advocacy, we aim to empower individuals to take an active role in their care and thrive beyond diagnosis.

Remember, if you or a loved one is facing HER2-positive breast cancer, you are not alone. With targeted therapies, a multidisciplinary approach to care, and a strong support network, many individuals are living longer, healthier lives with this subtype of breast cancer. Stay informed, stay connected, and draw strength from the resilience and wisdom of the HER2-positive breast cancer community.

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