Subtypes and receptor status
There are different subtypes of breast cancer. Each subtype behaves and responds to treatment in a different way.
Because of this, your treatment for breast cancer will depend on what subtype of the disease you have. A doctor
can determine the subtype of the disease by looking at a sample of your breast tissue.
Each subtype has specific receptors that encourage cancer growth. Receptors include
- Estrogen receptor (ER)
- Progesterone receptor (PR)
- Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2/neu)
If the cancer has a specific type of receptor, it is positive for that receptor. For example, a cancer with the
hormone receptor ER is called ER-positive, or ER+, disease. A cancer may be positive for more than one type of
receptor. This means that your disease can have the following receptor statuses:
- ER +/-
- PR +/-
- HER2/neu +/-
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)
It is also possible for a cancer to be negative for all 3 receptors. This type of cancer is called
triple-negative disease. When breast cancer is triple-negative, it means that there are no estrogen,
progesterone, or HER2/neu receptors in the tumor cells telling the cancer to grow. TNBC is considered
to be more aggressive because it is more likely to spread and also more likely to come back after treatment.
TNBC is often treated with a chemotherapy or with a combination
It is important to talk to your doctor about the treatment options available to you based on the receptor status
of your cancer.