Knowing what type of metastatic breast cancer (MBC) you have and what causes your cancer to grow is important. If you’re living with MBC, you may already know your MBC type, often defined by your tumor's hormone receptor (HR+/-, also known as ER+/- or PR+/-) and HER2 protein (HER2+/-) status. But it’s also important to know whether your cancer has a mutation, such as PIK3CA.
Like your HR and HER2 status, your tumor’s PIK3CA mutation status may affect your cancer care.
Click on your type below to learn about the hormones, proteins and mutations that make it grow.
The PIK3CA gene is the most commonly mutated gene in HR+/HER2- breast cancer, affecting about 40% of people with this type. It's important to know if you have a PIK3CA mutation, as it can affect how your cancer progresses.
HR+/HER2- breast cancer is the most common form of breast cancer. In this cancer, hormones estrogen and progesterone cause the cancer to grow. There are also certain mutations that could impact your cancer and treatment options, such as if you have the PIK3CA mutation.
HR+/HER2+ is fueled by estrogen or progesterone hormones, as well as the HER2 protein.
HR-/HER2- breast cancer, commonly referred to as triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is not fueled by estrogen, progesterone or the HER2 protein. Research shows that this type is most common in younger women, African American women and women who have the BRCA1 mutation.
HR-/HER2+ breast cancer has a mutation in the HER gene causing excess HER protein, which makes the cancer grow. HR-/HER2+ breast cancer commonly has the characteristics of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). IBC typically develops from cells that line the milk ducts of the breast and then spread beyond the ducts. IBC is often initially diagnosed as advanced. IBC is not always HR-/HER2+, so talking to your doctor about your type of breast cancer is still recommended.
Mutations such as BRCA1/2 can be inherited or passed from parent to child. However, PIK3CA mutations are not inherited, but may occur sporadically. The PIK3CA gene is the most commonly mutated gene in HR+/HER2- breast cancer, affecting about 40% of people with that subtype.2 PIK3CA mutations have been linked to cancer growth.3
Just as your tumor’s HR and HER2 status inform your doctor whether certain proteins fuel your cancer, your tumor’s mutation status tells your doctor whether a gene mutation may be contributing to the growth of your cancer.Your tumor’s mutation status may affect how your doctor manages your cancer care.
Talk to your doctor about how you can find out your tumor’s mutation status.Identifying the PIK3CA mutation can help your doctor understand your disease better and plan your personalized care.
In cancer, mutations may affect how the tumor grows, leading to flawed or different instructions for a given cell.
occurs at random and is not passed down from parent to child. PIK3CA is a sporadic mutation.5
passed down from parent to child. BRCA1/2 is an inherited mutation.1
I already know my MBC type – I do not need to know anything else about my cancer.
There may be mutations called PIK3CA or BRCA1/2 in your tumor that could impact your cancer care. Talk to your doctor to learn more about your tumor’s mutation status.
All MBC mutations are passed down from parent to child.
The PIK3CA mutation is not inherited, which means your tumor may have it regardless of your family history.
Mutations in cancer do not affect course of disease (or disease prognosis).
Biomarkers and mutations, such as PIK3CA, have been linked to cancer growth, and may be associated with poorer prognosis.3,4
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Potential side effects of treatment vary for each therapy, and every person responds differently. Talk to your health care team about the potential side effects of treatment, including side effects like anxiety, depression or insomnia. If your health care team understands the side effects you are experiencing, they can better help you manage them.
Some of the women we surveyed said it was sometimes hard to take their cancer treatment as prescribed. It is okay to feel this way, but if you do, let your health care team know. Cancer treatment is complicated, so do not make changes before talking to your health care providers, even if you are experiencing side effects. The more information you communicate, the more they will be able to help you.