A woman looks up thoughtfully as different combinations of positive and negative symbols float above her head

Community Shares: Advanced Breast Cancer Subtypes

Advanced breast cancer is complicated. Not only is it diagnosed by stages, but it has many subsets that tend to correspond to how well the cancer will respond to treatment. Tests will determine if advanced breast cancer is hormone-receptor-positive, HER2-positive, or triple-negative.

To learn more about which types of cancer you are dealing with, we reached out on the AdvancedBreastCancer.net Facebook page to ask, “What subtype of advanced/metastatic breast cancer do you have?”

More than 40 of you answered, and here is what you said.

Triple-negative breast cancer

This type of breast cancer refers to cancer that does not have cells with estrogen or progesterone receptors or make significant amounts of the protein referred to as HER2. Sadly, this type of advanced breast cancer tends to grow and spread faster.

“Triple-negative breast cancer metastasized to my lung and lymph nodes.”

“Triple-negative.”

HER2+ breast cancer

Short for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, the HER2 protein stimulates the growth of cancer cells. However, the treatments fighting HER2+ tend to be very effective—so there is good news.

“HER2+ MBC moved into the pelvic bone.”

“ER/PR-, HER2+, Metastasis in the liver.”

HER2- breast cancer

The HER2 protein will be diagnosed as either positive or negative. Of those that responded to this prompt, the majority answered that they are HER2-.

“ER/PR+. HER2- MBC moved into my sternum.”

“ER+, Her2-, PIK3CA mutation with bone and liver mets.”

ER/PR+ breast cancer

Advanced breast cancer will also be described as being ER or PR positive or negative. A breast cancer that is ER+ means that cancer grows in response to estrogen. This is incredibly common. Likewise, advanced breast cancer can also be described as PR+, which will grow in response to progesterone. In both cases, cancers that are ER+ and PR+ respond well to treatments.

“ER/PR+, the PR is lower this time than last.”

“ER+, with bone mets almost eight years.”

Inflammatory

Inflammatory breast cancer is not common, and it attacks the body aggressively. This appears as a rash on the skin and often goes undetected by mammograms and ultrasounds. It can be dangerous to overlook this type of breast cancer as simply an infection or area of irritation. With inflammatory breast cancer, do not expect to feel lumps. Instead, the breast will be red, swollen, or inflamed. It can be detected as pain in the breast, a bruise on the breast that will not go away, skin changes on the breast, itching and/or swelling of the lymph nodes under the arm or in the neck.

“Inflammatory.”

We want to say thank you to everyone who was a part of this story. We appreciate the shares of every community member.

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