Breathe, Get the Facts About Your Breast Cancer Diagnosis GET THE FACTS ABOUT DIAGNOSIS.

What's important to know about breast cancer?

It’s important to know about the stages and types of breast cancer before making a treatment choice. Now is the time to get the facts to help you understand and participate in the treatment decisions. Your care team can provide answers and insights to help as you move forward.

What is Important to Know About Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer stages

“Stage” is used to describe the size of the tumor and if it has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. There are 5 stages. You should know about the breast cancer stage before you make a treatment decision with your care team.

What are lymph nodes?
Lymph nodes are tiny organs that are part of the immune system and located throughout the body. They filter harmful substances and help the body fight infection and disease. Larger groupings of lymph nodes are found in places like the neck, underarm, and chest. Lymph nodes are a common place that breast cancer may spread.

Undiagnosed but Have Questions?

Undiagnosed but have questions?

Find more helpful information about testing and screening at Susan G. Komen.

Types of breast cancer

When your care team determines you have breast cancer, they can do tests to better understand the type. Knowing the type of breast cancer can help them decide on a treatment plan. A few types commonly tested for are listed:

HR+ means:

HR+ (hormone receptor-positive) Breast Cancer

HR+ (hormone receptor-positive) means that the cancer cells in your body contain hormone receptors:

  • Estrogen receptors
  • Progesterone receptors
  • Both estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors

A receptor is a protein found on or in cells of the body. When substances attach to receptors, changes can occur in the cell. Estrogen and progesterone are two substances that bind to hormone receptors. When they bind, it can cause the cells to grow. HR+ means that your breast cancer cells have these receptors.

The treatment options for people with HR+ breast cancer interrupt or block those receptors or signals. Treatment can happen before surgery or after surgery. Talk to your care team about treatment options you should consider.

HER2+ means:

HER2+ (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 positive) Breast Cancer

HER2+ (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 positive) means your body is making too much of a certain receptor called HER2. HER2 receptors are created by the HER2 gene.

Usually, HER2 receptors help control cell growth in normal cells. But, in some cancer cells, there are larger amounts of these receptors. This can cause the cells to grow.

The goal of treatment for HER2+ breast cancer is to slow or stop the growth. Treatment may be given before surgery or after surgery. People with HER2+ cancer may be more likely to respond to pre-surgery treatment than some other types of breast cancer. Talk to your care team about treatment options you should consider.

TNBC means:

TNBC (triple-negative breast cancer) Breast Cancer

TNBC (triple-negative breast cancer) means the cancer does not have estrogen receptors, does not have progesterone receptors, and does not have extra HER2 receptors. Thus, it is triple negative.

In other words: Something else is causing cancer to grow, so the breast cancer may not respond to treatments that are commonly used for other types of breast cancer.

The goal of treatment for TNBC is to stop cancer cells from growing or spreading. Treatment can happen before surgery or after surgery. People with TNBC may be more likely to respond to pre-surgery treatment than some other types of breast cancer. Talk to your care team about treatment options you should consider.

There are Many Types of Breast Cancer

Don’t see your type?

There are many types of breast cancer. Read about other types at Breastcancer.org.

Which care team experts are involved in breast cancer care?

Your doctor may have mentioned working with a team of medical experts (such as an oncologist, radiation oncologist, surgeon, and oncology nurse) to further explain your diagnosis and treatment options, plus answer your questions. This care team of specialists can help you make informed treatment decisions.

Ask your Care Team Whatever Questions you Have About Breast Cancer

Ask your care team whatever questions you have:

  • What type of breast cancer do I have?
  • What stage is my breast cancer?
  • How likely is it that my cancer will spread?
  • How do my test results affect my treatment options?
It’s Okay to Seek a Second Opinion
UP NEXT

It’s okay to seek a second opinion.

Breast cancer is complex. It’s very common in health care to get a second opinion. You will not hurt your doctor’s feelings if you seek advice from another doctor. Consulting with a second medical expert about your treatment options may help you feel more confident in your decision. Read more…