If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you probably have seen a pathology report referring to your HER2 status. New research may affect how your doctor interprets your HER2 status, and the drugs you receive.
What is HER2?
HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor) is one of many proteins involved in cell division. The surface of cells have receptors to capture this protein and send it into the cell to tell the nucleus to divide. There are many stages in this process, and if something goes wrong at any point, cell growth is affected.
Cancer is a disease of wild cell division. Instead of cells dividing, growing, and dying in a well-regulated way, they multiply out of control. This can happen for many reasons. One is that a person’s cells have too many HER2 receptors on the surface, making the cells multiply too fast. Sometimes this is called HER2 overexpression or amplification.
For a long time, doctors knew that having too many HER2 receptors made a cancer tumor more aggressive, but they didn’t have a way to treat HER2-positive tumors. Chem