Breast cancers, why they are not all the same and how they deal with each other

Breast cancers, why they are not all the same and how they deal with each other

They are different in forms and categories and today they can be faced with specific "tailor-made" therapies for each woman

The diagnosis is always the same: breast cancer. But within this definition there are many different categories that differentiate one lesion from another, so much so that today we are talking about specific pathologies – and therefore treatments – for each woman. Today the specialist is in fact able to understand, on the basis of the characteristics of the cancer cells and the mutations they undergo, how to deal with the disease and prepare the “tailor-made” therapy for each individual case.

Receptors yes, receptors no

First, thanks to the biopsy on the tissue taken by the surgeon and analyzed by the expert, you can first find out if there are specific receptors that can "guide" the therapy. These are "signalers" that are found on cells and receive "indications from substances that circulate in the blood, such as hormones. The neoplastic cell can therefore be affected by these stimuli. However, the most common form is breast cancer that is positive for hormone receptors: if these are present, the malignant unit has stimuli that allow it to replicate and reproduce better. The presence of these receptors is usually considered based on their quantity: if their number is higher, in fact, the action on cell development is greater. In general, in about two out of three cases of cancer, the disease presents with these characteristics, albeit with different "quantities". The situation is different in case of positivity to HER-2. In this case, the tumor is characterized by the excess production of a gene that is "expressed" in excessive quantities: this acts as a receptor and is present on the outer membrane of the pathological cells. In this sense, the positivity to HER-2 (HER2 +) becomes a characteristic of the tumor: on average about one in four cases of tumors have these characteristics. Obviously the presence of the receptors is not always so specific so it is also possible to have a double sensitivity. Finally, there is a third possibility, namely the total absence of receptors. This situation occurs in triple-negative tumor: in this case, the tumor cells are negative for both hormone receptors and HER-2. On average, about 15 percent of lesions have these characteristics: the picture is more common in young women.

When the tumor becomes advanced

In five to ten out of a hundred cases, when breast cancer is discovered, it has already metastasized. And more or less three out of ten women will develop this situation in the course of their lives, even after a diagnosis of cancer at an early stage and subsequent therapies from the beginning of the disease. In these cases, breast cancer spreads to other areas of the body, such as bones, liver, lungs, or brain. Metastatic breast cancer, unlike the non-metastatic form, is a tumor that has invaded blood and / or lymphatic vessels and has reached other organs and tissues, developing new locations of macroscopically visible distant disease. In Italy there are more than 37,000 women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer: about 10% of these are aged between 40 and 49, therefore they are young women, in the midst of their family and professional life, such as mothers, wives and workers. In these cases, the disease has a profound impact on the whole family. Hence the need for innovative therapeutic options that guarantee quantity and quality of life.

Category: Health
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