Breast Cancer At A Glance

The incidence of breast cancer amongst Malaysians in 2018 was 7593 cases, representing 17.3 percent of all cancer cases that year. In Malaysia, it is the leading cancer in women, followed by colorectal cancer. In a larger scale, it impacts up to 2.1 million women worldwide each year. The hormone estrogen is one of the risk factor which plays a role in the development of breast cancer. In this article, the role of estrogen and breast cancer will be discussed.

What Is Estrogen?

Estrogen is a female sex hormone produced in the ovary. It plays an important role in the development of female’s secondary sexual characteristics aside from regulating the integrity of their reproductive organs. Although it is produced in the ovary, the signal to produce it comes from the pituitary gland in the brain.

How Estrogen Give Rise To Breast Cancer

Majority of breast cancer is influenced by the hormone estrogen and they are said to be ER-positive. Sometime, a big portion of ER-positive breast cancer will also be PR-positive. The term ‘ER-positive’ means positive for estrogen receptor and the term ‘PR-positive’ means positive for Progesterone receptor. Context-wise, it denotes the reaction of the breast cancer to the presence of the hormones. Estrogen binds to ER-α receptor and stimulates the breast cells to divide. The constant division process has a probability of having a few cells to mutate upon division. These mutated cells in turn, will actively divide uncontrollably and after some time, the accumulated cells from theses uncontrolled division forms a cancer. It can keep on growing until it invades the nearby structures such as the ribs, the underlying muscles and the lymph nodes. Usually, there are genes that regulates the division of cells, stopping any further division and killing off mutated cells. However, when there’s genetic mutation that leads to the failure of these genes from regulating cell division, these cancer cells can keep on dividing.

What’s The Treatment For ER-positive Breast Cancer?

Fortunately, ER-positive breast cancer has the best prognosis (chances of good outcome) compared to other form of breast cancer. One of the main treatment used for ER-positive breast cancer is the use of Tamoxifen, a type of Hormonal Therapy which competes with estrogen to bind at the estrogen receptor.

Please remember to undergo mammogram screening and to regularly do self-breast assessment for early detection of lumps in the breast. To know more about other risk factors, symptoms and treament options, consult your doctor. 

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

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Dr Nur 'Aqilah Binti Hadenor Pembedahan Umum
Dr Nur ‘Aqilah binti Hadenor mendapat ijazah MBBS daripada Management and Science University-international Medical School, Bangalore, India. Beliau telah menjalani latihan Housemanship di Hospital Kuala Lumpur sebelum meneruskan pengajian dan latihan di Hospital Queen Elizabeth 2, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Beliau kini sedang berkhidmat sebagai pegawai perubatan di bawah unit pembedahan payudara dan endokrin, di jabatan pembedahan. Beliau seorang yang sangat meminati penulisan kesihatan dan pendidikan kesihatan, khususnya untuk penyakit-penyakit dan keadaan yang berkaitan dengan kesihatan wanita.
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