Download About HER2 Breast Cancer Brochure

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This handout will help you understand what HER2-positive breast cancer is and how
a diagnosis of HER2-positive breast cancer can affect your treatment options.
Your health care team is your primary resource for information. Only your health care
team can give you medical advice about your treatment.
What Is
Breast Cancer?
What Is HER2?
HER2 (short for human epidermal
growth factor receptor 2) is a gene
(a section of DNA) found in all of
the body’s cells. Genes contain
instructions that cells use to make
proteins, which do many jobs in
the body.
Normal cell
HER2 protein
Breast cancer cells with too much
HER2 protein are called HER2positive, and this type of breast
cancer often grows and spreads more
quickly than some other types. About
1 of every 5 breast cancers is HER2positive.
The HER2 gene has the
instructions for making the HER2
protein. This protein sits on the
surface of cells, and its job is to
help cells grow.
HER2-­positive breast cancer cell
HER2 protein
HER2 protein
HER2 gene
Some cells have too many copies of
the HER2 gene, and so they make
too much of the HER2 protein. The
extra HER2 protein causes these
cells to grow faster than other cells.
How Does My
Doctor Know If
My Cancer Is
The sample of breast tissue
removed during your biopsy is
studied in a laboratory to help
diagnose your cancer. One of
the tests performed is a HER2
test, which looks at cells under a
microscope to see if they have too
much of the HER2 gene or the
HER2 protein.
If the cells do, then your cancer
is called HER2-positive on the
report that the laboratory sends
to your doctor. If they don’t, then
your cancer is called HER2negative. Sometimes the test
result is “borderline,” and the
laboratory may retest the cells.
The HER2 status of your cancer
is just one part of the report,
called a pathology report, that your
doctor receives. Your doctor may
request several other tests, and the
results of these will also be on the
pathology report.
How Does HER2
Status Affect My
Medicines made just for HER2positive breast cancer are
available. These medicines, called
targeted treatments, work in a
different way than conventional
chemotherapy drugs. Their goal
is to block the HER2 protein’s
ability to make cells grow. Targeted
treatments can affect both cancer
cells and normal cells. They
are often given together with
conventional chemotherapy.
The choice of which targeted
treatment to use depends on
how advanced your cancer is, the
timing of your treatment, and other
medical factors unique to you. You
should talk with your doctor about
your options.
For More Information
In addition to talking with your health care team, you can visit the following websites to find more information on
HER2-positive breast cancer:
American Cancer Society. Breast cancer:
detailed guide.
groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003090pdf.pdf. Updated August 19, 2015. Accessed
October 16, 2015.
• Living Beyond Breast Cancer:
• American Cancer Society:
Unless otherwise indicated, Genentech Inc. is neither affiliated with nor endorses any of these organizations. The
resources listed are meant for informational purposes only.
American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Facts
& Figures 2013-2014. Atlanta, GA: American
Cancer Society Inc; 2013.
National Cancer Institute. What You Need to
Know About Breast Cancer. Bethesda, MD:
National Institutes of Health; 2012. NIH
publication 12-1556.
© 2015 Genentech USA, Inc. All rights reserved. HPK/112315/0086