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Thursday, February 26, 2009 becky05, Community Member, asks

Q: her2 positive and negative

What is the difference between HER2 positive and HER2 negative.

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Answers (1)
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
2/26/09 6:06pm

Hi Becky: Here's the lowdown on HER2, from our Guide to Your Pathology Report:


•Her2-neu; HER2/neu; Her2Neu (or simply HER2) status: The HER2 gene (also referred to as c-erbB-2, or similar) makes a protein that acts as a receptor on the surface of your cells. This receptor is sensitive to signals that tell the cell to grow. If the HER2 gene produces too much protein (too many receptors), the cell grows too quickly, which means cancer cells become overly aggressive and grow extra-fast.

There are currently two common ways to test for “HER2 over-expression” (you might see that term in your report).

•IHC (immunohistochemistry): This test is scored from 0 to 3; 0-1 are considered negative, while 2-3 are positive.

•FISH (fluorescent in situ hybridization): This is reported simply as a positive, or negative.

A positive result means your HER2 gene is indeed making too much protein. About 25% to 30% of breast cancers are HER2 positive. This means they’re more aggressive and faster–growing then most breast cancers.

Women who are HER2 positive are generally prescribed the drug Herceptin, or Tykerb.


Hope this helps - PJH

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By becky05, Community Member— Last Modified: 06/13/12, First Published: 02/26/09