Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Quadruple negative?

Triple negative breast cancer has always existed but only characterized as such for the past 3 years or so with the routine testing for the her2 oncogene for early breast cancer. There is a flurry of research identifying other factors that can be targeted to stop this disease in its tracks. For now, most of these factors such as p53 just may have a prognostic value as there are no drugs to target them but one factor is emerging that there are drugs for: the androgen receptor. Apparently about half of TNBC patients test positive for this factor. In general they have a worse prognosis but this could change if they were treated with androgen blockers already out there for prostate cancer. Clinical trials are on-going. Estrogen positives also can be positive for this factor but it seems, if I am reading this right, they have a better prognosis with this factor.
What am I? Who knows. I'm sure my tumor was tested for a variety of factors that was not shared with me as it was 'research'.

At any rate, I am recovering. Less breast pain, more energy, more hair, more oil glands. Apocrine glands still haven't returned but I am OK with that.

All this research for breast cancer has not been in vain. Death rates have dropped 30% since they peaked in 1989. In general, it is detected earlier, Herceptin has saved many lives as has chemo for early cases. What hasn't dropped much is the incidence of breast cancer though there was a suspicious drop in 2002 when that study indicated that taking replacement hormones could cause breast cancer and millions of women gave them up on the spot.

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