Breast cancer is a disease due to an aggressive growth of breast cell. In fact, about 85-90% of breast cancers are caused by genetic abnormalities due to the aging process, while only 5-10% of cancers is caused by an abnormal trait passed down through families. This condition not only affects mental health of individuals but also an ability to perform daily roles and sexual function. Breast cancer is diagnosed by using many tests such as mammograms, ultrasound, breast biopsies and hormonal tests.

What is hormonal receptor?

Estrogen and progesterone are present in both sexes, but they play a critical role in women’s menstrual cycle and sexual development. Estrogen receptors (ER) and progesterone receptors (PR) are special proteins may be found in breast cancer cells. These receptors receive messages from substances in the bloodstream and influence many hormonal functions in women, such as breast development. Like healthy cells, most breast cancer cells have hormone receptors and respond to the hormonal signals. Knowing whether or not breast cancer cells have hormone receptors is an important to determine the treatment.

ER test/PR test

Testing for both estrogen and progesterone receptors is a standard part of a breast cancer diagnosis. The most common method currently used to test a tumor for estrogen and progesterone receptors is called immunohistochemistry (IHC). IHC testing can evaluate estrogen and progesterone receptors in cancer cells from a sample of tissue taken from a biopsy or from the surgery to remove the tumor of the breast. The cells may have neither, one, or both of these receptors. The results should be accurate because of its important to determine the appropriate treatment for patients and avoid side effects of inadequate treatment.

The result of the test

There are four possible results of the test.

  • ER(+). Estrogen-receptor positive means that receptors of woman’s cancer cells response to estrogen. ER(+) breast cancer is a most common type of breast cancer and in some cases will not require chemotherapy after surgery.
    • ER(+)/PR(+): In 65% of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer cases, the cells have receptors for progesterone, which could be supporting the growth of the breast cancer.
    • ER(+)/PR(-): About 13% of breast cancers cases, estrogen, but not progesterone, supports the growth and spread of the cancer cells.
  • ER(-)/PR(+): About 2% of breast cancer cases, hormone progesterone is likely to support the growth of this cancer. More research is recommended to better understand progesterone-receptor-positive breast cancers.
  • ER(-)/PR(-): About quarter of cases, the breast cancer cells do not have receptors for either hormone, or also called hormone-receptor-negative. Professionals suggest that hormone-receptor-negative breast cancers will respond better to chemotherapy than hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers do.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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