Knowing what makes a cancer grow can make it easier to treat. About two out of every three breast cancers have at least one type of hormone receptor, which promotes cancer growth.

At Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, we test all newly diagnosed breast cancer tumors to see if they have hormone receptors. We use these details to personalize breast cancer treatment. Our specialized breast cancer team knows how to deliver precise treatment and understands how to support you every step of the way.

What Is Hormone Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer?

Hormone receptors are proteins found on breast cells. They pick up the signals from estrogen or progesterone hormones that fuel cell growth. Knowing whether the tumor needs estrogen and/or progesterone to grow makes it easier to treat. Breast cancer cells can test positive for hormone receptors regardless of the type of breast cancer or disease stage.

Breast tumors may be positive for estrogen receptors (ER+), progesterone receptors (PR+) or both (ER/PR+). If a breast cancer is positive for either type of hormone receptor, we consider it hormone receptor-positive (HR+), or just hormone-positive. About 80 percent of all HR+ breast cancers are ER+ or ER/PR+.

Testing for Estrogen and Progesterone Receptors

At Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, we test tumor tissue using samples taken during biopsy or breast surgery. The most common test used to classify hormone receptor status is an immunohistochemistry (IHC) test. This sensitive test will identify a tumor as HR+ if even 1 percent of the tested cells have a hormone receptor.

When we test breast tissue for hormone receptors, we also test for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Breast cancer that is HER2-positive may respond to targeted therapy. Cancer that tests negative for both hormone receptors and HER2 is called triple negative breast cancer.

HR-Positive Breast Cancer: The Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Advantage

We offer complete, high-level care for every type and stage of cancer. We test the cancer cells so that we can provide the most innovative and effective treatment possible. When you choose our team for your care, you can count on:

  • Precise diagnosis: Our pathologists are dedicated to breast cancer and trained to deliver the most detailed diagnosis possible. That level of detail allows us to personalize your treatment.
  • Targeted therapy experts: Our specialists know when targeted therapy is appropriate for HR+ breast cancer and how to use it effectively. We often use genomic testing such as Oncotype Dx to help make treatment decisions. Meet our breast cancer team.
  • Comprehensive support: Our breast cancer support services help relieve the financial, emotional and physical effects of cancer treatment. Our oncology-certified nurse navigator will be with you every step of the way and guide you to supportive resources.
  • Convenient care: We provide world-class cancer care close to where you live. Except for surgery, all your breast cancer treatments happen at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute in Lancaster. Learn more about our breast cancer care locations.

How We Treat PR- and ER-Positive Breast Cancer

Our goal is to personalize your breast cancer treatment to make it as effective as possible. Knowing what fuels the growth of HR+ breast cancer helps us do that. We use a combination of targeted and standard cancer treatment to treat HR+ breast cancer. Your treatment may include:

  • Surgery, for the removal of affected breast tissue (lumpectomy) or the entire breast (mastectomy)
  • Breast reconstruction, which surgically recreates the shape and appearance of your breast during or after breast cancer surgery
  • Chemotherapy, which uses either oral or intravenous (IV) drugs to attack cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy, used after surgery or chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells
  • Targeted therapy, which pinpoints HER2 receptors and also benefits patients whose cancer is hormone-positive and/or related to a BRCA gene mutation
  • Hormone therapy, for hormone-positive breast cancer
  • Clinical trials, which give you access to promising breast cancer treatments for HR+ breast cancer

Request an Appointment

To make an appointment at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute, call 717-544-9400 or request a callback using our online form.

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