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What Is Hormone Receptor Positive Breast Cancer

Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Hormone Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer

Triple negative breast cancers don’t have oestrogen receptors, progesterone receptors or HER2 receptors. Around 15 out of 100 women have this type . It is more common in younger women.

Hormone therapies and targeted cancer drugs do not work well for this type of breast cancer. So you are more likely to have chemotherapy.

Phytoestrogens And Soy: The Debate

Phytoestrogens are compounds that have a mild estrogenic effect and are found in whole grains, nuts and seeds, and many other botanicals, fruits and vegetables. These foods are associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer as well as reduced cancer reoccurrence.

The controversy becomes heated in the debate over soy-containing foods. This issue is complex, with some studies showing that eating soy early in life can reduce breast cancer risk. On the other hand, the consumption of concentrated soy extracts showed increased proliferation of breast cancer cells. Finally, other studies show a protective or neutral effect from whole soy foods.

My recommendation for soy is to eat whole soy foods in moderation no more than several servings per week, preferably fermented soy foods such as miso or tempeh. Avoid soy protein isolates and supplements containing concentrated soy isoflavones.

Treatment For Pr Positive Breast Cancer

Most PR positive breast cancers are also ER positive, and you may be offered hormone therapy.

The benefits of hormone therapy are less clear for people whose breast cancer is only PR positive. Very few breast cancers fall into this category, but if this is the case your specialist will discuss with you whether hormone therapy is suitable.

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Icb In Combination With Other Treatment Modalities For Hr+ Breast Cancer

ICB in combination with chemotherapy for the treatment of HR+ breast cancer has shown some success, particularly in the neoadjuvant setting however, it remains unclear if chemotherapy is sufficient to reverse these immunologically cold tumors. Importantly, there is a wide variety of treatment options for patients with HR+ breast cancer including targeted molecules and radiation. Thus, there has been an interest in the synergistic potential of these other treatment modalities.

How Her2 Affects Staging

Metastasis Dormancy in Estrogen ReceptorPositive Breast ...

Your HER2 status helps determine the pathology of your specific breast cancer. Your HER2 status can also help determine how aggressive the cancer is. Your doctor will use this information to evaluate your treatment options.

As of 2018, the breast cancer staging system that the American Joint Committee on Cancer uses now incorporates HER2 status.

Staging is complex and must take various other factors into account, such as:

  • the size of the tumors
  • the cancers hormone status
  • whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes
  • whether the cancer has spread beyond the breast
  • whether the cancer cells look abnormal

For example, these two cancers are both classified as stage 1B:


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What Is A Hormone Receptor

In breast cancer, hormone receptors are the proteins located in and around breast cells. These receptors signal cells both healthy and cancerous to grow. In the case of breast cancer, the hormone receptors tell the cancer cells to grow uncontrollably, and a tumor results.

Hormone receptors can interact with estrogen or progesterone. Estrogen receptors are the most common. This is why ER-positive is the most common form of breast cancer.

Some people are diagnosed with progesterone receptor-positive breast cancer. The key difference is whether cancerous cells are getting growth signals from estrogen or progesterone.

Testing for hormone receptors is important in treating breast cancer. In some cases, there are no hormone receptors present, so hormone therapy isnt a good treatment option. This is called hormone receptor-negative breast cancer.

According to, about 2 out of 3 people with breast cancer have some form of hormone receptors present. This makes them candidates for hormone therapy.

Why Is Knowing Hormone Receptor Status Important

Knowing the hormone receptor status of your cancer helps doctors decide how to treat it. If your cancer has one or both of these hormone receptors, hormone therapy drugs can be used to either lower estrogen levels or stop estrogen from acting on breast cancer cells. This kind of treatment is helpful for hormone receptor-positive breast cancers, but it doesnt work on tumors that are hormone receptor-negative .

All invasive breast cancers should be tested for both of these hormone receptors either on the biopsy sample or when the tumor is removed with surgery. About 2 of 3 breast cancers have at least one of these receptors. This percentage is higher in older women than in younger women. DCIS should be checked for hormone receptors, too.

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Symptoms Of Hormone Receptor

Symptoms are not specific to hormone-sensitive breast cancer. Mammogram screenings find many breast cancers before symptoms develop. However, these are the most common symptoms of all breast cancers:

  • Breast lump
  • Skin changes on the nipple or breast
  • Inverted nipple or nipple discharge that is not breast milk
  • Change in size, shape, or appearance of the breast or nipple
  • Hardening or toughening of the breast

What Are Hormones And Hormone Receptors

Hormone Receptor Positive Breast Cancer

Hormones are substances that function as chemical messengers in the body. They affect the actions of cells and tissues at various locations in the body, often reaching their targets through the bloodstream.

The hormones estrogen and progesterone are produced by the ovaries in premenopausal women and by some other tissues, including fat and skin, in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women and in men. Estrogen promotes the development and maintenance of female sex characteristics and the growth of long bones. Progesterone plays a role in the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.

Estrogen and progesterone also promote the growth of some breast cancers, which are called hormone-sensitive breast cancers. Hormone-sensitive breast cancer cells contain proteins called hormone receptors that become activated when hormones bind to them. The activated receptors cause changes in the expression of specific genes, which can stimulate cell growth.

Breast cancers that lack ERs are called ER negative, and if they lack both ER and PR they may be called HR negative.

Approximately 67%80% of breast cancers in women are ER positive . Approximately 90% of breast cancers in men are ER positive and approximately 80% are PR positive .

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What Is Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy slows or stops the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors by blocking the bodys ability to produce hormones or by interfering with effects of hormones on breast cancer cells. Tumors that are hormone insensitive do not have hormone receptors and do not respond to hormone therapy.

Hormone therapy for breast cancer should not be confused with menopausal hormone therapy treatment with estrogen alone or in combination with progesterone to help relieve symptoms of menopause. These two types of therapy produce opposite effects: hormone therapy for breast cancer blocks the growth of HR-positive breast cancer, whereas MHT can stimulate the growth of HR-positive breast cancer. For this reason, when a woman taking MHT is diagnosed with HR-positive breast cancer she is usually asked to stop that therapy.

Hormone Receptor Positive Breast Cancer Status

As part of the staging process for confirmed breast cancer tumors, a pathological-histological evaluation of a biopsy sample will be conducted. In addition to visual features under the microscope, such as:-

  • the shapes of the cells
  • the cell formation

the pathologist will also test the tumor to determine the levels of expression for various hormones, proteins, and hormone receptors.

This process is typically undertaken through the injection of the tumor sample with dyes that react chemically with certain proteins contained in in the breast tumor.

Determining the hormone receptor status of a given breast cancer will give the doctors information on how fast the tumor is growing. Also, whether or not there is evidence of cell damage and death. In addition, doctors will determine the particular genetic type of cells which have become malignant. Finally, medics will try to determine how the breast carcinoma will likely respond to chemotherapy and endocrine therapy treatments.

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Estrogen Receptor And Progesterone Receptor Positive Breast Cancer

Breast tumors are tested to see if they are estrogen receptor and/or progesterone receptor positive or negative. Hormone receptor tests are both prognostic and predictive. In general, tumors that are ER+ and/or PR+ are slightly slower growing and have a slightly better prognosis than tumors that arent. Hormone receptors also provide information about treatment options. If your tumor is ER+ and/or PR+, then your cancer can be treated with a hormone therapy. For this reason, these tumors are also sometimes referred to as hormone sensitive.

Hormone therapies slow or stop cancers growth by changing the hormonal milieu. For early stage cancer, these treatments include tamoxifen and a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors or AIs. Currently three aromatase inhibitors are approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration : anastrozole , letrozole , and exemestane . Studies suggest that all three are equally effective. Women with metastatic breast cancer also have other hormone therapy options, including fulvesrant , megestrol acetate , and tormifene .

Less Common Types Of Hormone Therapy

Palbociclib for the Treatment of Estrogen Receptor ...

Some other types of hormone therapy that were used more often in the past, but are rarely given now include:

  • Megestrol acetate , a progesterone-like drug
  • Androgens
  • High doses of estrogen

These might be options if other forms of hormone therapy are no longer working, but they can often cause side effects.

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Breast Cancer Hormone Receptor Status

Breast cancer cells taken out during a biopsy or surgery will be tested to see if they have certain proteins that are estrogen or progesterone receptors. When the hormones estrogen and progesterone attach to these receptors, they fuel the cancer growth. Cancers are called hormone receptor-positive or hormone receptor-negative based on whether or not they have these receptors . Knowing the hormone receptor status is important in deciding treatment options. Ask your doctor about your hormone receptor status and what it means for you.

Tests On Your Breast Cancer Cells

After a biopsy or surgery to remove breast tissue, a sample of cells is sent to the laboratory. A doctor called a pathologist does various tests on the cells. This can diagnose cancer and also show which type of cancer it is.

Some tests can also show how well particular treatments might work, such as hormone therapies or targeted cancer drugs.

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Dos And Donts For Estrogen

Breast cancer is not just one disease it comes in many variations.

One of the primary factors in determining the type of breast cancer is the sensitivity of the tumor cells to estrogen. If a breast tumor is hormone-sensitive or estrogen receptor-positive, it means there are specific estrogen receptors on the tumor cells, and when estrogen binds with these receptors, it transfers a message to the cancer cells. Like a lock and key effect, the breast tumor cells are stimulated by estrogen to grow and reproduce. Therefore, one of the main goals of therapy or intervention with hormone-positive cancer is to reduce hormonal stimulation as much as possible.

Finding The Type Of Cancer

Hormone Receptor-Positive and HER2-Positive Breast Cancer: A Medical Update

A pathologist looks at the cancer cells under a microscope to see which type of breast cancer it is. They can tell this by the shape of the cells and the pattern of the cells in the breast tissue.

Pathologists also sometimes use particular dyes to stain the cells and show up certain proteins or features of the cells.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Hormone Therapy

The side effects of hormone therapy depend largely on the specific drug or the type of treatment . The benefits and harms of taking hormone therapy should be carefully weighed for each person. A common switching strategy used for adjuvant therapy, in which patients take tamoxifen for 2 or 3 years, followed by an aromatase inhibitor for 2 or 3 years, may yield the best balance of benefits and harms of these two types of hormone therapy .

Hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness are common side effects of all hormone therapies. Hormone therapy also may disrupt the menstrual cycle in premenopausal women.

Less common but serious side effects of hormone therapy drugs are listed below.


  • Breathing problems, including painful breathing, shortness of breath, and cough
  • Loss of appetite

Diagnosis Of Hormone Receptor

Doctors diagnose all breast cancer types from a biopsy tissue sample. A biopsy sample can tell your doctor about your specific tumor subtype, grade, HER-2 status, and hormone receptor status. Your doctor will use the information from your biopsy to help guide your treatment options. Sometimes, this information is not available until after surgery is done to remove the tumor.

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S For Interrogating The Tme To Reveal Novel Icb Targets

Recent advances in molecular and genomic profiling, as well as multi-plex tissue analysis have allowed a deep understanding of the TME and have revealed novel mechanisms and opportunities to overcome immune suppression in HR+ breast cancer, as reviewed here. Further strategies aimed at more deeply characterizing the TME of HR+ breast cancer and contrasting it to immune rich, ICB-responsive tumors may greatly facilitate development of novel strategies for the use of ICB in HR+ breast cancer. In this section we aim to review current technologies used to explore the TME and include both advantages and disadvantages to each strategy.

Chemically Induced Rodent Models And Genetically Engineered Mouse Models

Hormone Receptor Status and Diagnosis in Breast Cancer

Chemically induced rodent mammary carcinoma models developed in the 1980s have been widely used to investigate hormone-dependent BC. Tumors are induced in rats by a single dose of oral 7,12-dimethylbenzanthracene or intravenous or subcutaneous N-methylnitrosurea they form with a latency between 8 and 12 weeks and a nearly 100% incidence . Both NMU and DMBA-induced tumors express ER and PR . Administration of medroxyprogesterone acetate decreases latency and increases the incidence of DMBA-induced tumors . Importantly, these tumors faithfully recapitulate various aspects of the human disease. Their growth if hormone-dependent and pregnancy before carcinogen exposure reduces tumor incidence . However, these models were not readily amenable to mechanistic studies because genetic engineering of rat models has long proven challenging. Only recently with the advent of TALEN and CRISPR , technology pace has picked up . To date, most research efforts have focused on mouse models instead, which can be readily genetically manipulated. GEMMs represent an elegant tool to recapitulate in vivo carcinogenesis. They offer the advantage that tumors develop in the tissue of origin, in the presence of an intact immune system and organ microenvironment with stromal remodeling, inflammation and angiogenesis.

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How Does Hormone Therapy Work

About 2 out of 3 breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive. Their cells have receptors for the hormones estrogen and/or progesterone which help the cancer cells grow and spread.

There are several types of hormone therapy for breast cancer. Most types of hormone therapy either lower estrogen levels or stop estrogen from acting on breast cancer cells.

When Is Hormone Therapy Used

Hormone therapy is often used after surgery to help reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. Sometimes it is started before surgery . It is usually taken for at least 5 to 10 years.

Hormone therapy can also be used to treat cancer that has come back after treatment or that has spread to other parts of the body.

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Diet And Breast Cancer

Because the role of diet in breast cancer survival is not fully understood, common nutrition advice is based on what is known to prevent breast cancer and these guidelines aren’t specific to cancer type. In fact, nutrition advice for breast cancer prevention closely matches the breast cancer survivorship guidelines, published in December 2015 by the ACS and the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

These recommendations encourage survivors to consume a diet that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, while limiting alcohol and saturated fat. These guidelines are not specific to cancer type or ER status, although people who have estrogen-dependent cancer may respond well to these recommendations.

Hormone Receptor Positive Breast Cancer Has A More Favorable Outlook Following Diagnosis

Advanced Hormone Receptor-positive Breast Cancer

About 70% of all invasive breast cancers demonstrate positive ER expression. Estrogen functions as a transcription factor and is an essential element in the tumorigenesis, differentiation, and growth of breast cancer tumors. Nonetheless, women with ER and PR positive breast tumors do have a lower mortality risk following diagnosis as compared to women with either ER- PR+, or ER- PR- breast tumors. Furthermore, women with ER and PR receptor negative tumors also tend to show HER-2 overexpression, which has also been shown to exert a negative influence on breast cancer outlook.

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Hormone Receptor Status And Hormone Therapy

Hormone receptor-positive breast cancers can be treated with hormone therapy drugs. These include tamoxifen and the aromatase inhibitors, anastrozole , letrozole and exemestane . Ovarian suppression, with surgery or drug therapies, is also a hormone therapy.

Hormone receptor-negative breast cancers are not treated with hormone therapies because they dont have hormone receptors.

Learn about hormone therapy for the treatment of metastatic breast cancers.

Proteins For Targeted Cancer Drugs

Testing cancer cells for particular proteins can help to show whether targeted drug treatments might work for your breast cancer.

Targeted cancer drugs are treatments that change the way cells work and help the body to control the growth of cancer.

Some breast cancers have large amounts of a protein called HER2 receptor . They are called HER2 positive breast cancers. About 15 out of every 100 women with early breast cancer have HER2 positive cancer.

Targeted cancer drugs such as trastuzumab can work well for this type of breast cancer. These drugs attach to the HER2 protein and stop the cells growing and dividing.

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