Navigating Your Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Hormone Receptor Status

When you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor may note your cancer hormone receptor status—estrogen receptor positive and HER2 negative, for example. These classifications indicate whether estrogen, progesterone, and/or growth factor receptors helped your cancer cells grow and multiply. Know that nothing you did or didn’t do affected these hormones.

The Role of Estrogen, Progesterone, and Growth Factors

In estrogen receptor positive cancers—which are usually also progesterone receptor positive—receptors on the cancer cell take up estrogen and use it as fuel to help cells multiply and survive.

When HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) proteins are overexpressed, they attach to HER2 receptors and trigger a cascade that stimulates cells’ proliferation and survival.

Cancers that are negative for all three receptors—estrogen, progesterone, and HER2—are referred to as triple negative breast cancers.

Why Hormone Receptor Status Matters

Your doctor can better tailor your treatment based on your cancer hormone receptor status—they’ll choose medications that target the specific hormone or pathway at play. Carefully chosen therapies can cure or treat the cancer, based on its stage. Treatments can both extend life and lessen symptoms.

Explore more below to learn about the variety of therapies available, as well as tips for day-to-day coping and living well with breast cancer.

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