Hormone Receptor Positive Cancer

Your doctor will request a biopsy test to see if the cancer is sensitive to estrogen and progesterone. If the test is positive, the cancer likes to grow in a high-estrogen environment. Think of ER-positive cancers as ones that like to "eat" hormones. One way to fight these kinds of cancers is to take away their "food." In women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancers, hormonal therapy is part of the treatment.

Women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer are usually prescribed Tamoxifen or Raloxifene, pills that reduce the risk of cancer in high-risk patients, prevent cancer from returning as well as to fight a current cancer. Please read about the STAR study that compares these two medications' ability to fight cancer.

Besides the ovaries, estrogen comes from fat cells so overweight patients should lose some pounds in their effort to lower estrogen levels and fight the cancer. Statistically, overweight patients have a higher mortality rate.

In pre-menopausal women, the primary source of estrogen production is the ovaries and they are sometimes surgically removed or shut down with medication.

In post-menopausal women, a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors (AI's) may be used instead of Tamoxifen. These inhibitors prevent androgen from turning into estrogen in the blood. Right now there are three that are FDA approved for fighting breast cancer: anastrazole (Arimidex), exemestane (Aromasin), and letrozole (Femara).


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