January 28, 2009
After lab work, a MUGA heart scan, MRI, CT and PET scans I am now ready to begin my first neoadjuvant chemotherapy treatment today. Neoadjuvant treatment is used to describe systemic therapy, such as chemotherapy, that is given before surgery. This type of therapy can shrink tumors so they are easier to remove. My tumor is 3.6 cm by ultrasound measurements made during the ATEC biopsy done on 1-14-09. It was a little larger when they did a measurement on the outside of my body but that was done post biopsy and swelling most likely added to the dimensions.
The pathology report indicated that I am HER2 positive. HER2 stands for Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2. The HER2 is a gene that produces a type of receptor that helps cells grow. Breast cancer cells with too many HER2 genes and/or receptors tend to be fast growing and may respond to treatment with certain drugs targeted to the HER2 receptor, such as trastuzumab and lapatinib. This explains why the tumor came on fast and furious. My mammogram last July did not indicate any tumor so that pesky HER2 is responsible for this fast growing tumor. To learn as much as you could ever possibly want to about HER2 and Herceptin, visit http://www.herceptin.com/
I will be given chemotherapy today that includes Taxotere and Carboplatin. Herceptin will be given to me through my port after the chemo drugs. Herceptin (trastuzumab) is a monoclonal antibody. It is not considered chemotherapy but it is used with the two other chemotherapy drugs I will be given. I will continue Herceptin treatments for one year after chemo, surgery, radiation and any other treatment needed. The Herceptin will be given by itself for one full year but the good news is that it does not make your hair fall out!
Chemo went well today. I have a great healthcare team and everyone at Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center is wonderful. I keep saying to everyone I talk to that this is a place of healing and not a sick place. People look like they are on the road to recovery. Dr. Carlson is my oncologist and he is the best.
Well, I am going to rest now. Thanks to everyone that got me through the day. The most difficult part is over!