What is ER-positive Breast Cancer?

What is ER-positive Breast Cancer
7 Oct 2023
8 mins
Table Of Content
What is ER-positive Breast Cancer?

    Grab Some Knowledge About ER-Positive Breast Cancer


    Estrogen receptors (ERs) were first identified in breast cancer cells in the 1960s. This discovery laid the foundation for understanding the hormonal influences on breast cancer development. In the 1970s, the anti-estrogen drug tamoxifen entered the scene. Initially developed as a contraceptive, it was repurposed for breast cancer treatment due to its ability to block estrogen receptors. The classification of breast cancer into subtypes based on receptors gained traction. The distinction between HER2-positive and ER-positive subtypes became pivotal for personalized treatment approaches. In this dynamic era of medical innovation, the convergence of precision medicine and immunotherapy represents a beacon of hope for a future where this cancer is not just managed but conquered with tailored, effective, and less invasive interventions.


    What Is ER-Positive Breast Cancer?


    ER-positive breast cancer, also called estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, is distinguished by the overexpression of estrogen receptors, proteins located on the surface of cancer cells. These receptors, normally present in healthy breast cells, become aberrantly active, promoting uncontrolled growth and proliferation when stimulated by estrogen. This hormonal reliance sets the stage for targeted therapeutic interventions, making ER-positive breast cancer unique among breast cancer subtypes.


    What Are The Symptoms Of ER-Positive Breast Cancer?


    • Breast Lump or Mass

    The most common symptom of breast cancer, including the ER-positive subtype, is the presence of a palpable lump or mass in the breast. This may be discovered through self-examination or during a routine clinical examination.


    • Changes in Breast Size or Shape

    Estrogen breast cancer symptoms can cause alterations in the size or shape of the breast. This may be accompanied by asymmetry between the two breasts.

    • Nipple Changes

    Changes in the appearance of the nipple, such as inversion, discharge, or changes in texture, can be indicative of breast cancer, including the ER-positive subtype.

    • Changes in the Skin

    Skin changes, such as redness, dimpling, or puckering, may occur due to the infiltration of cancer cells into the surrounding tissue. 


    • Pain or Discomfort

    While breast cancer is not always painful, some individuals with ER-positive breast cancer may experience pain or discomfort in the affected breast.


    It's important to note that these symptoms are not exclusive to this cancer condition and may also be associated with other breast conditions. However, any persistent changes or abnormalities should seek a thorough medical evaluation.


    What Causes ER-Positive Breast Cancer?

    1. Hormonal Influence


    • The primary cause of ER-positive breast cancer lies in the hormonal influence on cancer cells. Estrogen, a hormone that plays a major role in the normal functioning of breast tissue, can also contribute to the abnormal growth of cancer cells when estrogen receptors on these cells are overexpressed. Women are more likely to develop hormonal tumors, which are relatively slower.

    2. Genetic Factors


    • Inherited genetic mutations, such as mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, can increase the risk. These mutations disrupt the normal regulation of cell growth and repair mechanisms, predisposing individuals to cancer.

    3. Age and Gender


    • Breast cancer, including the ER-positive subtype, is more commonly diagnosed among younger women and tends to occur with increased frequency as individuals age. While men can also develop breast cancer, it is comparatively rare.

    4. Family History


    • A family history of breast cancer can elevate an individual's risk, especially if close relatives, such as a mother or sister, have been diagnosed with the disease. Shared genetic and environmental factors within families may contribute to this increased risk.

    5. Reproductive Factors


    • Certain reproductive factors, such as early onset of menstruation, late menopause, and a history of never having given birth, can influence hormonal exposures and contribute to the risk of this condition.

    FAQs About ER-Positive Breast Cancer Answered


    1. What is ER-positive breast cancer?

    ER-positive breast cancer, or estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, is a subtype where cancer cells have receptors for estrogen. This hormonal dependence influences treatment strategies.

    2. How is ER-positive breast cancer diagnosed?

    Diagnosis involves specialized tests, primarily immunohistochemistry (IHC) and gene expression profiling, to identify the presence of estrogen receptor-positive on cancer cells.


    3. Is ER-positive breast cancer curable?

    With advancements in treatment, many individuals with ER-positive breast cancer respond well to therapy. Early detection and personalized treatment contribute to favorable outcomes.


    4. Are there ongoing clinical trials for ER-positive breast cancer?

    Ongoing research explores new treatments, immunotherapies, and current approaches of precision medicine. Clinical trials offer opportunities for patients to access innovative therapies.

    5. How often should one undergo screenings for ER-positive breast cancer?

    Regular screenings, including mammograms and clinical breast examinations, are crucial for early detection. The frequency depends on factors like age, family history, and risk profile.


    6. Can ER-positive breast cancer recur after treatment?

    While treatments aim to prevent recurrence, there's a risk of cancer returning. Regular follow-ups and monitoring help detect and manage any recurrence at an early stage.


    7. Is ER-positive breast cancer hereditary?

    While some cases may have a hereditary component, the majority are sporadic. Genetic testing can identify inherited mutations, guiding risk assessment and preventive measures.


    The Ending Note

    Striving for a future free from the fear of ER-positive breast cancer is a powerful and noble pursuit. It involves a collective effort to advance awareness, early detection, and innovative treatments. We empower individuals to take charge of their health, undergo regular screenings, and recognize the signs early on. Together, we can strive for a future where this type of cancer is not a source of fear but a chapter in medical history that we've successfully overcome.

    Let's Strive For A Future Free From Fear

    Written by
    Dr.B.DeivaPharm D
    AboutDr.B.Deiva is a Medical Content Writer at MrMed.She graduated with a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D) from Jaya College of Paramedical Sciences, Thirunindravur in 2021. She worked as an intern in clinical pharmacy from 2020-2021 as a part of her curriculum where she participated in various aspects of clinical pharmacy services, and research projects and provided comprehensive care to the patients. With experience, she worked as a Medical Content Writer Under Mr.Medicine for 4 months. She also has skills in researching, writing, editing, and proofreading medical content and blogs.
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