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Types of Secondary Breast Cancer: Oestrogen Receptor Breast Cancer

6th July 2020 Education

Types of Secondary Breast Cancer  Oestrogen Receptor Breast Cancer

So far in our info posts we have covered where secondary breast cancer can spread to and also HER2 status. 
Today we are talking about Oestrogen receptor breast cancer or as it is more commonly known ER+ or ER-.

Diagram from CRUK Science Blog

As we discussed in our last post, hormones help to control how cells grow and what they do within the body. There are a number of hormones which can help breast cancer to grow and the biggest culprit is oestrogen. If you are told that your cancer is ER+ this means that your cancer has receptors for oestrogen. Why is it called ER+ you may ask? The American spelling of oestrogen is estrogen hence the abbreviation being ER. 
Breast cancer which does not have these hormone receptors is called oestrogen receptor negative or ER- breast cancer. 
In some cases you may find that your breast cancer may also have receptors for a hormone called progesterone which is more referred to as being PR+. 
When you are diagnosed the terminology is overwhelming. You may for example read a letter that looks like an algebra equation from your school days. It is ok to feel confused and please do not be afraid to ask your oncologist or secondary breast cancer nurse to explain your pathology results to you. 
Remember when it comes to your diagnosis - knowledge is power!