Dad is HER2 negative - is this "good" "bad" or "indifferent"?

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DanaMB3
DanaMB3 Member Posts: 98
edited March 2014 in Esophageal Cancer #1
My dad's HER2 test finally came back - he is negative. We aren't quite sure if we should be pleased with those results, or not? The reason being is the assistant doctor we met with yesterday mentioned that they have seen people who are HER2 positive typically respond better to chemo.

Would love to know the thoughts on this from some of you who know more than we do.

Thanks!

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  • unclaw2002
    unclaw2002 Member Posts: 599
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    My dad also tested negative
    My dad also tested negative for the HER2 receptor, we were dissapointed but understood that only a small number of individuals have positive receptors. This is just one treatment option and although promising the fact that your dad didn't test positive shouldn't mean anything for his long term prognosis or how he will respond to treatment. How he responds to chemo is an individual thing and each person is different.

    The HER2 type of treatment targets specific tumor characteristics. It was initally approved for use in Breast Cancer patients. The FDA just formally approved herceptin for treatment in EC this fall. The HER2 test only provides an indicator if a specific targeted treatment (the use of herceptin) can be used to target the tumor. NOT whether or not you will respond to chemo. My understanding is that approximately 20% of all EC patients test positive for the HER2 receptor, that cetainly isn't a majority. Further there are inconclusive studies that have shown people with the HER2 receptor do worse than other patients, and studies that show they do better.

    We have several survivors on this board who have tested positive for the HER2 receptor and responded favorably to the Herceptin treatment. But don't worry that your dad can't have this particular treatment, there are other weapons available in this fight. Keep the faith and hope.

    Good luck and keep asking questions.

    Cindy
  • DanaMB3
    DanaMB3 Member Posts: 98
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    My dad also tested negative
    My dad also tested negative for the HER2 receptor, we were dissapointed but understood that only a small number of individuals have positive receptors. This is just one treatment option and although promising the fact that your dad didn't test positive shouldn't mean anything for his long term prognosis or how he will respond to treatment. How he responds to chemo is an individual thing and each person is different.

    The HER2 type of treatment targets specific tumor characteristics. It was initally approved for use in Breast Cancer patients. The FDA just formally approved herceptin for treatment in EC this fall. The HER2 test only provides an indicator if a specific targeted treatment (the use of herceptin) can be used to target the tumor. NOT whether or not you will respond to chemo. My understanding is that approximately 20% of all EC patients test positive for the HER2 receptor, that cetainly isn't a majority. Further there are inconclusive studies that have shown people with the HER2 receptor do worse than other patients, and studies that show they do better.

    We have several survivors on this board who have tested positive for the HER2 receptor and responded favorably to the Herceptin treatment. But don't worry that your dad can't have this particular treatment, there are other weapons available in this fight. Keep the faith and hope.

    Good luck and keep asking questions.

    Cindy

    Thank you
    Cindy - for your reply
  • Callaloo
    Callaloo Member Posts: 135
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    It might be good that he's negative
    Good question. Testing positive means the tumor cells over-express (over-produce?) the HER2 gene. The drug Herceptin has been shown to be effective in suppressing this gene. Testing negative means your dad would not benefit from the drug Herceptin.

    On the other hand, overexpression of HER2, at least in breast cancer patients, is associated with increased disease recurrence and worse prognosis. Seems to me that it's better not to test positive for it to begin with. Perhaps it's better to have a less aggressive disease than to have a more aggressive disease that responds to the drug?
  • DanaMB3
    DanaMB3 Member Posts: 98
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    unknown said:

    This comment has been removed by the Moderator

    Thanks for your reply
    Thanks for your reply Sherri. I have read some of your other posts and think of you and your husband often throughout my day.
  • DanaMB3
    DanaMB3 Member Posts: 98
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    Callaloo said:

    It might be good that he's negative
    Good question. Testing positive means the tumor cells over-express (over-produce?) the HER2 gene. The drug Herceptin has been shown to be effective in suppressing this gene. Testing negative means your dad would not benefit from the drug Herceptin.

    On the other hand, overexpression of HER2, at least in breast cancer patients, is associated with increased disease recurrence and worse prognosis. Seems to me that it's better not to test positive for it to begin with. Perhaps it's better to have a less aggressive disease than to have a more aggressive disease that responds to the drug?

    Thank you Callaloo. That is
    Thank you Callaloo. That is the mindset we had when we first learned of the gene but once the assistant doctor made that comment we began to question it.
    Thanks for your reply.