Today's lesson is on how herceptin works. This is one of my chemo drugs that is specific for my type of cancer (HER2+), and I take it every week for the time being. To understand how herceptin works, first we need to know that breast cells have a protein on their surface called HER2. This protein sends a signal to the nucleus that tells the cell to divide. So-called HER2+ breast cancer cells have too many HER2 proteins on their surface, resulting in too much cell division. Too much cell division basically results in a tumor, although something must be slightly different in the case of inflammatory breast cancer because there's not exactly a tumor. Anyway, here's a figure illustrating what I just said, taken from www.herceptin.com:
Pretty amazing, huh? I'm just glad that I'm finally to a point where I can research aspects of my own cancer. It took a surprisingly long time to get to this place.