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Molecular Subtypes of MBC

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Each month, our Here All Year campaign explored a new topic around metastatic breast cancer—from myth and stigma busters, to new research and strategies for improving outcomes. Want to help make a difference for people living with MBC, all year long? Dig deeper into the research, explore the available resources, watch patient stories and share them on your social and email channels.

Molecular Subtypes of MBC

Not all breast cancers are the same! It is important to understand what type of metastatic breast cancer you have and how it differs from other types of breast cancer. Once you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor will review your pathology report and the results of any imaging tests to understand the specifics of your tumor. Using a tissue sample from your breast biopsy or using your tumor if you’ve already undergone surgery, your medical team determines your breast cancer type. This information helps your doctor decide which treatment options are most appropriate for you. (Source: The Mayo Clinic — http://mbca.me/MBC-MAYO)

If your cancer is hormone receptor positive (HR+), you can be either estrogen receptor-positive (ER+), progesterone receptor-positive (PR+) or both. It means the cancer grows in response to these hormones. Treatments for these subtypes work to lower the amount of these hormones in your body. Other molecular subtypes include HER2+ (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2), TNBC (triple negative: ER-, PR- & HER2-), and Triple Positive (ER+/PR+/HER2+).
If you have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer after being treated for early-stage breast cancer, your doctor may want to repeat the tests to see if the tumor’s cells have changed in any way. These tests will help your doctor learn more about the cancer and choose the most effective treatment plan.
In addition to changes in molecular subtypes between an early-stage breast cancer diagnosis and a metastatic diagnosis, your subtype may change if you experience a later progression or new site of metastasis. A new biopsy is a good idea when your doctor discovers a progression in order to help you decide if a change in treatment might be necessary.
Lesley Glenn was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, ER/PR+, HER2-, with mets to her bones in November 2012, at the age of 47. Lesley is a native Hawaiian—born and raised—and now lives in Southern Oregon with her husband of 29 years and their 2 rescue pups. She has been an active advocate within the MBC community for the past 6 years and is the co-founder of the annual Climb for a Cure and is currently working on a new survivorship wellness platform called Project Life to be released in the spring of 2021. Lesley is passionate about the healing capacity of hiking in nature, therapeutic art, mindfulness and travel.
Victoria Goldberg has been living with MBC since January 2014.  She is triple positive with HER2/PR/ER receptors She had been originally diagnosed with early-stage cancer in 2005; and in January 2014, a CT scan showed that her cancer had returned and had spread to her liver and bones. Victoria had an exceptionally good response to her treatments and physically recovered pretty quickly. Before MBC, a big part of her life and how she defined herself had been her career. The side effects of the treatment forced her to stop working earlier than she had planned. Patient advocacy like volunteering with SHARE gives her that missing structure and purpose. It feels “right.”  She is a founder of TalkMets, a dedicated helpline for women living with MBC and is a support group facilitator. In July 2020, Victoria joined the team behind the Our MBC Life podcast.  She is a producer and is trying her hand at sound editing, graphic design, and co-hosting. She is also an editor and writer of the Our MBC Life blog.

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