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22

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

:

Breast Cancer – Locally Advanced (STAGE III)

Version 1.2017

Receptor testing

Not all breast cancer cells are alike. They can differ

by the type of receptors they have. A receptor is

a protein found inside or on the surface of cells.

Substances bind to the receptors and cause changes

within the cell. The two types of receptor tests

important for treatment planning are described next.

Hormone receptor test

Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that are

present in all women. Among some women with

breast cancer, the cancer cells have receptors

to which these hormones attach. As shown in

Figure 8

, hormone receptors are inside of cells.

After hormones attach, the receptors enter the

nucleus and cause cells to grow in number. However,

the growth of cancer cells with hormone receptors

is usually slower than cancer cells without these

receptors.

Testing for hormone receptors is important. There

are drugs that can be used to stop hormones from

causing cancer growth. IHC (

i

mmuno

h

isto

c

hemistry)

is the lab test used by pathologists for hormone

receptors.

IHC involves applying a stain to cells then looking

at them with a microscope. The stain shows how

many cells have hormone receptors and the amount

of hormone receptors in the cells. If at least 1 out of

Figure 8

Key receptors in breast cancer

Hormone and HER2 receptors help breast cancer grow. Some women have a high amount of one

or both types of receptors. It is important to test for these cell receptors so that the best cancer

treatment is received.

cancer cell

HER2

sends

growth

signals

cancer cell

Copyright © 2017 National Comprehensive Cancer Network

®

(NCCN

®

).

www.nccn.org

estrogen

receptor

triggers

cell

growth

2

Treatment planning

Cancer lab tests