HER2+ breast cancer is different from other breast cancers

If you have been diagnosed with HER2-positive (HER2+) breast cancer, you may have many questions. This section provides information about HER2+ breast cancer, from what makes it unique to how it behaves in the body. Please talk to your healthcare team about your medical condition and treatment. Only your doctor and healthcare team can give you medical advice.

What does HER2+ mean?

  • HER2 receptors are found on all cells, including normal cells and some cancer cells. HER2+ breast cancer cells have more HER2 receptors than normal. Too much HER2 makes these cancer cells grow and divide too rapidly, causing tumors to form
  • Approximately 1 in 5 people diagnosed with breast cancer is HER2+
  • HER2 is the abbreviation for “human epidermal growth factor receptor 2.” This receptor is a type of protein that is found on the surface of cells in the body
  • HER2 receptors work in the body by telling cells to grow and divide. All cells have HER2 receptors, even healthy ones
  • Sometimes a gene defect can happen, which leads to too many HER2 receptors. This defect causes cells in the body to grow and spread quickly. This cell growth can lead to cancerous tumors in the breast tissue
  • HER2+ breast cancer grows and spreads quickly. Treatment options are available for HER2+ breast cancer. It is important to make a treatment plan together with your healthcare team soon after diagnosis
  • HER2+ breast cancer is a systemic disease, which means it can affect the whole body, including the lymph nodes.

How will I know if I have HER2+ breast cancer?

  • A healthcare team member will run tests to show if the breast cancer is HER2-positive or HER2-negative. A HER2+ diagnosis will result when the breast cancer cells that are tested have more HER2 receptors than normal cells

How do targeted treatments work?    

Some treatments are designed to target HER2 receptors.    

What is PERJETA?    

PERJETA is designed to target HER2 receptors.