Published on September 10, 2020
Breast Cancer Information and Facts You Should Know
Have you ever wanted to ask a doctor what you should really know about breast cancer? Look no further because doctor, cancer expert, and patient advocate Dr. Julie Gralow is here to share.
Listen in as she explains important breast cancer information and facts including the importance of knowing your cancer subtype, why you should ask your care team about cancer cell receptors, what factors should go into choosing the best treatment plan for you, and the benefits of keeping a positive mindset.
For more advice, check out our library of breast cancer patient stories.
Transcript | Doctor Shares Breast Cancer Information, Facts and Advice
Is all breast cancer the same?
I actually went to med school knowing I wanted to be involved in cancer and cancer research. I had the opportunity when I was an undergraduate to work in a cancer lab, and I thought that it seemed so rewarding to be able to take the science from the laboratory directly to the patients. Once you've gotten over the shock of hearing the word cancer, then you've got to collect information that's going to help you and your healthcare team decide what's the best treatment regimen for you.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States and indeed in most parts of the world. And yet we use the term breast cancer, but it's multiple subtypes. When you're first diagnosed, I think that's the key is, not all breast cancer is the same. Not all breast cancer is treated the same and some very important things right up front that will determine your prognosis and your treatment options, include some special pathology.
What are estrogen and progesterone receptors?
Three really important receptors that can be on the cancer cell that needs to be looked at. And those are estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and the HER2 receptor. So right up front, that's going to be one of the most important things that your healthcare team wants to know, and that you should know because depending on these results and what your tumors expressing or not, you have very different treatment options.
How do I choose a treatment regimen?
When I'm trying to layout the best treatment regimen for my patient, I'm going to look at tumor factors, patient factors, and treatment factors, and then propose my best regimen, my best outline to give the patient the best quality of life, but also the best chance of getting rid of all the disease or controlling the disease. So when I'm thinking about those things, you also need to know what those things are that are going into that recommendation, because you, as the patient, absolutely are a partner in deciding what's the best regimen for you.
The majority of women and the few men who are diagnosed with breast cancer are likely to survive that cancer. And even if it presents at an advanced stage, you can live for many, many years with it. So while a cancer diagnosis is absolutely going to disrupt your life, I mean, you need treatment, you need recovery from the treatment. For some that treatment goes on for years and years. But the majority of people diagnosed with breast cancer are going to survive their cancer, and they're going to live a long time.