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Learning More About HER2-Positive Breast Cancer Adjuvant Therapy

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Women that have recently undergone the surgical removal of breast cancer usually have additional treatments after surgery for eradicating any cancer that may still be hanging around. Cancer cells that are left behind after their removal from the breasts can appear in other parts of the body. Adjuvant therapy is given to destroy any leftover cancer cells. Learn more about adjuvant therapy and how it can benefit you after breast cancer surgery.

What is HER2?

HER2, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, is a gene that contributes to breast cancer development. Responsible for manufacturing proteins for healthy breast growth, some HER2 genes make too many of itself that causes greater production of protein receptors, an anomaly called protein overexpression. When protein overexpression occurs, breast cancer cells receive messages from HER2 genes and they begin to grow out of control. Because of this anomaly, breast cancer cells can spread fast to other parts of the body. Avjuvant therapy targets breast cancer cells that have grown out of control and destroys them before they have a chance to create metastasis, leaving little risk of them coming back.

What Does Adjuvant Therapy Involve?

Adjuvant therapy involves the integration of chemical based drugs, hence the term chemotherapy, that work together to destroy and inhibit breast cancer cell growth after surgical removal of tumors. Some of the common drugs used during adjuvant chemotherapy include the following:

  • Taxanes:  Taxanes are a group of drugs commonly used in chemotherapy after breast cancer surgery because they inhibit the division of cancer cells.
  • Tamoxifen: This drug inhibits estrogen stimulation of dormant cancer cells and any micrometastases that is already present.
  • Anthracyclines: Inhibits protein degradation that is necessary for cancer cell growth and metabolism.
  • Aromatase inhibitors: Inhibits the growth of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer cells.

Through the combination of the drugs used in your adjuvant therapy, you have greater chances of becoming a survivor instead of a statistic. Adjuvant therapy has been shown to successfully work for destroying breast cancer cells. However, discussing with your oncologist about the risks involved for you during adjuvant therapy is a good idea. In some patients, chemotherapy will need to last longer or it may not work to rid the body of all undetectable cancer cells.

Going through cancer treatment can be tough and scary. Trying to keep a positive attitude can helps a lot to make your treatments easier to deal with. Any time you have fears or concerns about your treatment, never be afraid to talk to your doctor about them. Dispelling fears and anxiety can help you maintain a healing positive attitude. For more information, contact a center such as Southwest Oncology Centers.