What Are the Types of Breast Cancer?
What Are the Types of Breast Cancer? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.
Breast cancer expert Dr. Bhuvaneswari Ramaswamy shares an overview of breast cancer types and explains the standard biomarker testing that occurs following a diagnosis.
Dr. Bhuvaneswari Ramaswamy is the Section Chief of Breast Medical Oncology and the Director of the Medical Oncology Fellowship Program in Breast Cancer at The Ohio State College of Medicine. Learn more about this expert here.
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Let’s start with an essential piece that helps people thrive, understanding their breast cancer. First, what are the types of breast cancer?
Yeah, and I think that’s extremely critical. Empowering you, the patient, with the knowledge of the type of breast cancers and what’s the outcomes and why they’re getting some treatments, and what to look for is probably one of the most important things to do. And part of it lies primarily with the providers to ensure that education empowerment. But part of it also lies on the part of the patient to make sure they ask the right questions and learn about their breast cancer.
So, the type of breast cancers you have that are hormone receptor -sensitive breast cancer, that means your tumor would be positive for estrogen and or progesterone receptors. And it depends on estrogen and or progesterone for its growth and well-being. And then there is a HER2-positive breast cancer, which means the HER2 protein is high in your tumors and that drives the cancer cells.
And so, it’s important to understand that subtype and why we have certain treatments to improve the outcomes. And then the last one is when all those three are not there, ER, PR, and HER2. So, hence the word triple-negative breast cancers. These are the large subtypes of breast cancers that are based on these biomarkers, which are proteins that drive the growth of breast, the cancer cells. There is of course different types of breast cancer based on histology that is invasive ductal cancer, that’s very most common. The less, slightly less common is the invasive lobular cancer, about 10 to 15 percent.
But then there are also very less than 3 percent called metaplastic breast cancers and other types of breast cancers that could also be histological different subtypes.
And it’s important for you to know what type of subtype of histological or how does it look under the microscope is important for you to know as well. So, these I would say are the most important understanding of our breast cancer subtypes, at least this much to definitely educate the patient and patient having the understanding of their cancer.
What biomarker testing is standard following a breast cancer diagnosis?
So, the three biomarkers that we definitely test for at this point are the estrogen receptor for strong receptors and the HER2. And, of course, there’s also the grade that your pathologist would grade your tumor. And grade is different from stage. And that is looking at how quickly your cells are growing. And these are the basic understanding that you should have about your cancer at this point.