What is HER2-positive breast cancer?

Dennis L. Citrin, MD
Hematology & Oncology

Approximately 20 percent of breast cancers contain a special protein called HER2. When I speak with patients, I share that this is a bad news/good news story. The bad news is that HER2 positive breast cancer can be fast growing and aggressive. The good news is that we now have very effective drugs, such as Herceptin, which specifically target this protein and fight breast cancer. Herceptin is among one of the biggest advances in breast cancer treatment in the last 20 years.

Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2) status in breast cancer is sometimes referred to as C-erbB-2. HER-2 is a gene that helps control how cells grow, divide, and repair themselves. About one out of four breast cancers have too many copies of the HER-2 gene. These cancers tend to grow fast. They also respond very well to anti-HER-2 antibody therapy.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.