Knowing whether your breast cancer cells have certain markers, called receptors, is extremely helpful in planning which treatments may be effective for you. A receptor acts like a keyhole, allow a matching molecule to lock onto it and signal to the cell. For example, hormones can lock onto hormone receptors on breast cancer cells and signal to them to grow faster.
It has long been known that ovarian production of the sex steroid hormone, estrogen, affects growth, differentiation, and function of the mammary gland. By interacting with estrogen-response elements contained in the promoter region of specific genes, modulation of gene expression ultimately results in the biological effects of estrogen. Despite the clear understanding of the genomic mechanism of estrogen action, it is also postulated that estradiol can exert nongenomic effects on cell biology by interacting with other proteins, including a putative membrane estrogen receptor, growth factor receptors, and intermediate cell signaling molecules [ 2 — 4 ].
Hormone receptor tests are both prognostic and predictive. Hormone receptors also provide information about treatment options. Hormone therapies slow or stop cancer's growth by changing the hormonal milieu.
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Not all breast cancers are the same. Understand what type of breast cancer you have and how it differs from other types of breast cancer. Once you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor will review your pathology report and the results of any imaging tests to understand the specifics of your tumor.
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Impact factor 3. International Journal of Biological Sciences. International Journal of Medical Sciences.
Your pathology report will include the results of a hormone receptor assay, a test that tells you whether or not the breast cancer cells have receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Hormone receptors are proteins — found in and on breast cells — that pick up hormone signals telling the cells to grow. This suggests that the cancer cells, like normal breast cells, may receive signals from estrogen that could promote their growth.
Breast cancer cells taken out during a biopsy or surgery will be tested to see if they have certain proteins that are estrogen or progesterone receptors. When the hormones estrogen and progesterone attach to these receptors, they fuel the cancer growth. Cancers are called hormone receptor-positive or hormone receptor-negative based on whether or not they have these receptors proteins.