Over 325,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020. But did you know that not every diagnosis is the same?

Breast cancer is not one disease, but a group of diseases caused by normal breast cells growing and reproducing out of control. There are three main kinds, or subtypes, of breast cancer: hormone receptor-positive, HER2-positive, and triple-negative. The breast cancer subtype helps doctors determine which treatments may work best. After a diagnosis, a variety of tests will help you and your doctor learn which subtype you have. Results of these tests are found in your pathology report. 

Learn About Each Subtype


Why It’s Important to Know Your Subtype 

Years ago, doctors treated breast cancer as if it were one disease. Everyone diagnosed got roughly the same treatments. 

Now, researchers have proved that not all breast cancers are the same. Each breast cancer subtype has a unique set of features that help the cancer cells grow, divide, and multiply. Those same features are markers doctors use to choose medicines that will work best. Researchers have also learned that some medicines don’t work well, or at all, on cancer cells that don’t have certain features. 

Knowing your subtype is important in making sure you get the best treatment available to you.

Know Your Stage

No matter what stage of breast cancer, the three main breast cancer subtypes will still determine what treatments your doctor can recommend. But the stage of the cancer can be just as important to the timing and variety of treatment that you need. 

People with early-stage breast cancer have access to different treatments than people with metastatic, or stage IV, disease. The order of your treatments, how long you get a treatment, and how many different kinds of treatment you get over time are all impacted by the stage of the cancer.