On the outside, breast cancer appears to be simply breast cancer and that all breast cancers are the same. This isn't the case . . . it is supposed that there are about 100 different subsets of breast cancer. This explains why it is so difficult to treat as there's no "one size fits all" answer.
The following is a good explanation of what is known as a "receptor."
"Receptors are specialized protein molecules that can be thought of as
locks on or inside a cell that accept certain proteins and hormones,
among other things. The hormone fits into the receptor like a key into a
lock, sending a signal to tell the tumor cell to grow.
"Estrogen is a generic term for a group of hormones involved in female
sexual maturation. Estrogen is also the most important hormone in
hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the treatment to stave off hot
flashes, brittle bones and other symptoms of menopause. While estrogen
doesn’t cause cells to become cancerous, it does provide the environment
in which cancer cells grow. Provide an environment rich in estrogen,
and these breast tumors with estrogen receptors grow faster and migrate
into surrounding tissue. Cut off the supply of estrogen, and the tumors
starve to death.
"In general, patients with estrogen receptor positive tumors are good
candidates for anti-estrogen therapy, which can shrink tumors in three
out of four patients. These therapies range from Tamoxifen, a drug that
directly blocks the effect of estrogen in breast cancer cells; to
aromatase inhibitors, drugs that stop post-menopausal women from
converting other hormones to estrogen, in effect cleansing the cell
environment of estrogen. Both drugs work well on their own." http://www.coloradocancerblogs.org/collaboration-fingerprinting-breast-cancer/
My cancer is estrogen positive. I have been taking Tamoxifen since Dec 22. I also started receiving Zoladex, an ovarian suppression drug, shortly after my Stage IV diagnosis. It was expected that the Zoladex would definitely force my body into a menopausal state, reducing my estrogen levels to close to zero.
This has not happened. While my estrogen levels are low, they are not low enough. Additionally, they doubled over the past month, indicating that the Zoladex is not able to do its job. While the Tamoxifen is expected to be able to block what estrogen is in my body, the medical team is advising that I have surgery to remove my ovaries.
I am in the process of scheduling an oophorectomy as soon as possible. Ideally, this would happen within the next week, but no later than within the next two weeks.
We ask that you join us in prayer in working out the necessary details. I received this information the evening of Mar 28 and immediately sent out an email to my preferred doctor to do this procedure. I don't expect to hear back from her until next week, though, considering that it's Good Friday.
And it IS a GOOD Friday! In spite of this setback, my confidence remains in the fact that God so loved the world that he sent his son . . . so that I might live. What a gift!