Sarasota Herald Tribune

Published: Sunday, October 18, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 5:10 p.m.

If it is cancer, the biopsy sample is also given a grade from 1 to 3. Cancers that look more like normal breast tissue tend to grow and spread more slowly. In general, a lower grade number means a slower-growing cancer, while a higher number means a faster-growing cancer. The grade helps predict the outcome (prognosis) for the woman. The tumor grade is most important in women with small tumors without lymph node involvement. These women may not need further treatment after the tumor is removed, while women with higher grade tumors usually get hormone therapy or chemotherapy.

Hormone receptor status: Receptors are proteins on the outside surfaces of cells that can attach to hormones in the blood. Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that often attach to these receptors and fuel the growth of breast cancer cells. The biopsy sample can be tested to see whether it has receptors for estrogen and/or progesterone. If it does, it is often referred to as ER-positive or PR-positive.

HER2/neu status: About 1 out of 5 breast cancers have too much of a protein called HER2/neu. Tumors with increased levels of HER-2/neu are referred to as “HER2-positive.” These cancers tend to grow and spread faster than other breast cancers.


This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options.



Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.