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Estrogen receptive and HER2 positive

patsharkey's picture
patsharkey
Posts: 8
Joined: Oct 2000

I have learned that my cancer, now in recurrence, is strongly estrogen receptive, and has tested medium positive for HER2. Does anyone else have this combination?

My oncologist has only treated 6 women with Herceptin for HER2, and none who have both characteristics. He plans to treat me with a new estrogen blocking drug after chemotherapy, but seems uncertain at what stage to introduce Herceptin for the HER2. I would be grateful for any information or pointers you can give me. Thanks for reading, PAT

nancys
Posts: 336
Joined: Aug 2000

Hi Pat, It's Nancy. I am somewhat familar with the Her-2/neu. I also am estrogen positive and progesterone positive and have a very strong (3+) Her-2/neu. This is what I understand about this gene. The her-2/neu gene is a gene that causes or promotes unrestrained cell growth. It can make normal cells become abnormal or convert a normal cell into a tumor cell. Women with this gene are more likely to have a recurrence. Some research studies suggest that HER-2/neu may be associated with resistance to certain anticancer drugs. My onco. wanted me to participate in a trail where the Herceptin was used for women like us with this gene. He said Herceptin has been used in later stage cancer and this trial would show if it could be useful to early stage cancers. The Herceptin drug costs $55,000 a year. My Onco. said he beleived in it very strongly and would give it to all his patients if it were not for the cost. I did not fall into the trial group to receive the Herceptin, however. So, I go for my 2nd Chem tomorrow and I am going to ask a lot of questions about the HER-2/neu, like" where do we go from here". The Herceptin is given by IV and is given for one full year, once a week. Ask your Doctor about the trial called "NSABP B-31" I am not sure how long it will be open for participants. Aren't we lucky that our bodies produce this gene, as if the cancer is not bad enough! When were you first diagnosed, Pat? Did you have any node involvement? I had 1 positive node out of 17. That sounds pretty good but I wish it had been 0 out of 17. If wishes came true I would wish this cancer AWAY for every name on our site. Well my husband just came home and he is going to take me for a drive and get a dairy Queen ice cream. Thats not a bad way to spend this afternoon. Keep in touch and I will tell you about what I learn from my doctor tomorrow. Your Friend, Nancy

nancys
Posts: 336
Joined: Aug 2000

Pat, I forgot. The Herceptin was to be received with the second round of Chemo. I will get Taxol for three months and the Herceptin was to be given at the same time as the Taxol and then continue the Herceptin alone for another 9 months. Nancy

jane38
Posts: 137
Joined: Aug 2000

My oncologist said that if I had a recurrence of the cancer I would be eligible for the Herceptin. Here's hoping I don't ever have to find out about it. Jane

tiger
Posts: 292
Joined: Oct 2000

Hi guys, Tiger here, I really dont get the whole Her2 thing, i thought my onco told me I was estrogen neg but overexpressed Her2, which makes me eligable for Herceptin. I see him on wed for more chemo so I will ask him more on this,it is really confusing,I have a tendancy to not ask alot of questions,I guess I will have to start!!
Take care ,Tiger xo

nancys
Posts: 336
Joined: Aug 2000

Hey Tiger, Tell us what your Doctor has to say about the Her-2/neu. I think you heard him correctly about estrogen neg. but overexpressing her-2/neu. That is the way it usually happens. Make a list of questions on this subject and share your answers with us. Your Friend, Nancy

nancys
Posts: 336
Joined: Aug 2000

Hi Pat, Nancy again. I just got home from my 2nd chemo and I did talk to my Onco. today. He told me the HER-2/neu actually helps the chemo drugs work better. So what I asked him , he answered that the Her-2/neu makes the tumor cells grow faster but it also allows the chemo drugs to help kill this new growth faster. SOOO maybe it is not an all bad thing to have, Pat. BUT it does make the Tamoxifen less sensitive. He said they do not yet know if Herceptin will be helpful in early stage cancers and that is what the trial is for. My case to have the estrogen positive and progesterne positive and the Her-2/neu very positive is a little unusual, but he said it does happen. I know this is confusing to both of us. I am not sure yet that I throughly understand this thing. Tell me what your Onco. has to say about it and we'll be able to compare notes. My white count is back up today...YEHHHHA I can see my kids. Lets talk again, Nancy

sueholm's picture
sueholm
Posts: 221
Joined: Oct 2000

i've been following your discussion about the Her2 thing, and your response today nancy kinda cleared something up for me. some tumours are faster growing than others. chemo is designed to kill fast growing cells, but if one's cancer is not very fast growing, then surely chemo has a tougher time being effective. but if that her2 thing makes it grow faster, now there's a target for the chemo. am i thinking this through straight?

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