At most points in the treatment process, you can talk to your doctor about participating in a clinical trial. Some treatments will make you ineligible for some clinical trials later on, so it's a good idea to find out your clinical trial options early in your treatment process.
Inflammatory breast cancer is a type of breast cancer in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast, causing it to become red and swollen.
How is inflammatory breast cancer diagnosed?
Inflammatory breast cancer progresses very quickly, and at diagnosis, is considered either stage III or IV. Because there is often no lump present in the breast, this type of cancer can be difficult to diagnose through a physical examination or mammogram.
If breast cancer cells test negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and the HER2 protein, the cancer is called triple-negative. Triple negative breast cancer tends to be more aggressive with a higher chance of systemic recurrence.
How is triple-negative breast cancer diagnosed?
Triple-negative breast cancer is diagnosed after lab tests measuring the presence of hormone receptors (estrogen and progesterone) and HER2 genes and proteins.
HER2-positive breast cancer cells have a high amount of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 genes and HER2 proteins on cancer cells.
How is HER2-positive breast cancer diagnosed?
A lab test will measure the presence of HER2 receptor proteins on the cancer cells and how much HER2 protein is being made in a tissue sample.
Hormone receptors are proteins on the surface of all cells, including normal breast cells and some breast cancer cells, that help to mediate how hormones such as estrogen interact with cells; they may also stimulate cell growth.
Breast cancer cells can overexpress (be positive for) either estrogen receptors (ER+), progesterone receptors (PR+), or both.
LCIS is a condition in which abnormal but noncancerous cells are found in the breast lobules, which are not cancer cells. LCIS can be considered Stage 0 since it is noninvasive and has not spread outside the breast lobules.
LCIS cells seem not to directly develop into invasive cancer.
DCIS is a noninvasive condition referring to abnormal cells in the lining of the breast duct that have not spread to other tissues. It is possible for DCIS to become invasive cancer and spread to other parts of the body, so treatment can reduce the likelihood of recurrence.
Triple negative breast cancer is hormone receptor negative (ER- and PR-) and HER2 negative, which disqualifies it from being treated with most targeted therapies and hormone therapies. This kind of cancer is usually treated with chemotherapy, sometimes in the neoadjuvant (pre-surgery) setting, although more research is needed to determine if neoadjuvant chemo actually improves response.
Targeted cancer therapies are drugs or other substances that block the growth and spread of cancer. Targeted therapies select specific cells to attack, leaving healthy cells alone. They are often used with other types of therapy suited to specific types of breast cancer.
Hormone (endocrine) therapy is a systemic, targeted treatment available for certain women who have estrogen positive (ER+ (ER positive, estrogen receptor positive) or PR+ (PR positive, progesterone receptor positive)) tumors. It can be given along with chemotherapy, or in place of it.