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HER 2 positive breast cancer: symptoms, treatments & medications

22 February, 2021 Rishika Chawla

Breast cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growths which have the potential either to surge over or spread to other parts of the body. HER2 positive breast cancer arises from a protein called the human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER2). This receptor helps the breast cells to grow, divide and repair. But sometimes the growth may go wrong and cause positive breast cancers.

Approximately 1 from every 5 women suffering from breast cancer experiences HER 2 positive. These cells are located outside the breasts and grow faster than other cells. One can see that HER 2 positive cells grow faster than that of HER 2 negative.

These proteins act as a receptor on the breast cells. There can be a few causes to this type of cancer. One of the cause can be due to the excess amount of HER 2 proteins in the body. This may be genetic or can be due to lifestyle changes. Other reason can be mutation in the protein of the receptors.Environmental changes can also be a cause.

While its symptoms go on similar with that of breast cancer, one can experience the first symptom as hard lumps in the breast. While other symptoms can be:

  • Unusual breast swelling: Breast swelling can be seen in the body during the beginning of cancer. It can cause discomfort or pains in the body
  • Redness: Redness and rashes are common during breast cancers. They is common during non cancerous condition but are also typical features of inflammatory breast cancer.
  • Nipple discharge: Breast cancer can cause nipple discharge especially when the cancer starts in milk glands. This discharge can be yellow, pink, milky or other forms.
  • Skin irritation: Skin irritation can be seen in early stages of cancer. Itching can be seen with redness, tenderness and plumpness.
  • Change in shape: The size of your breast can increase or decrease with the hormonal changes. But one should take care of continual change in shape which can be a result of cancer.

However the cancer type can be dangerous and cost life.

Diagnosis of HER 2 positive breast cancer

  • IHC test: IHC refers to ImmunoHistoChemistry, a test used to give scores from 0 to 3+ which measures the quantity of HER2 proteins. The score from 0 to 1+ is negative, 2+ is border line, and 3+ is for positive HER2.
  • FISH test: FISH describes Fluorescence in situ hybridization. This test helps in visualizing the portions of genes. This test gives more accurate result than other tests like IHC test.
  • Inform dual ISH test: Inform HER 2 dual in situ hybridization test was approved in 2011. This test has a special stain that changes the color of proteins and examines the type of HER 2.

Treatment for Her 2 positive breast cancer:

  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is used to kill cancer cells and stop the new ones from further growth. It can be injected through mouth or can be given through an injection. This therapy destroys red blood cells and can also cause anemia. Some of the other side effects can be hair loss, appetite loss, rashes or taste changes. Approved Chemo preventive Medicines
  • Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy can be used to treat HER 2 cancer. Many drugs such as herceptin, pertizumab, or nerlynx can be used to treat this cancer. However, many side effects are expected from this treatment.
  • Hormone therapy: Hormone therapy stops the hormone estragon from attaching the cancer cells. Drugs used for the treatment are fulvestrant, tamoxifen, toremifene, exemestane and others.
  • Radiation therapy: This therapy lowers the chances of returning back of cancer in future. The two types of radiation therapies used for the treatment of HER 2 are external beam and brachy therapy.
  • Surgery: Lumpectomy or breast-conserving surgery and mastectomy can be done for the treatment of breast cancer. Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) and Axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) can also be checked with doctors consult.

Medications for Her 2 positive breast cancer:

Various medicines for Her2 positive breast cancer include enhertu, herceptin, kadcyla, nerlyx, perjeta, tykerb, fulverstrant, tamoxifen,xtane, toremifene and exemestane. These medicines can be ordered online from online pharmacy stores or could be bought from nearby medical store with doctor’s consultation.

Takeaway

HER 2 positive breast cancer depends on the stage and its given treatment. . It can be treated easily if diagnosed early. However the treatment can be done for the cancer which spreads or come back. Now the latest technology to treat cancer is chemotherapy with Trastu zumab. One can stay nourished and get support which is desired.