MedStar Health Explains HER2 Positive Breast Cancer

MedStar Health Explains HER2 Positive Breast Cancer


– Welcome back, everyone. For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are talking with experts
from Medstar Health, and today we have Dr. Shweta Kurian, the medical oncologist and hematologist from Medstar Health with us today. Now we have many questions for you. The first one is I wanted you to explain what HER2-positive breast cancer is. – So HER2 is short form for human epidermal growth
factor receptor two. It’s a type of protein that is located on the surface of breast cancer cells, and it actually determines how fast the cancer cell divides and it controls the growth of cancer cells. – And we talked about the test results. What exactly does that mean? – So when you test a breast cancer, you’re looking for different types of receptors on the
surface of cancer cells. You’re looking for estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor,
and the HER2 receptor. So when you get the results back, those are the things that are listed on the test results. It basically tells the type of protein that are driving the
growth of the cancer cells and if we could use a targeted medication to attach to these receptors
to modulate their growth. – What exactly is triple negative, though, when it comes to those test results? – So when we say ER, PR,
and HER2, the test results, well, if all three of them are negative, that is considered a triple
negative breast cancer. That means you don’t have a target to use a medication that attaches to that particular receptor
and you have to use conventional chemotherapy to take care of these cancers, then. – So chemotherapy, I know a lot of people are familiar with that
being the treatment method, but is there a gold standard treatment for HER2-positive? – So yes, HER2, because it is a target that we can use a medication that attaches directly to the HER2 receptor, the treatment is slightly different than conventional chemotherapy
that you would use for triple negative breast cancer. The gold standard, of course,
is attaching chemotherapy with Herceptin, or trastuzumab. There are newer medications
which are available now. Trastuzumab was the first one to come and has been around in the market for about 15, 20 years. Pertuzumab is available now and there are newer medications that are constantly being added to the armamentarium to
help control these cancers and actually that has
changed the prognosis of HER2-positive cancers
and they are considered to be good prognosis, because you can use this medication to just hone in the particular receptor
and change the prognosis. – Thank you so much, Dr. Kurian.

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