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Care for Hormone Receptor-Negative Breast Cancer


Hormone receptor-negative breast cancer cells don’t have a receptor for either progesterone or estrogen. Without receptors, tumor cells do not grow in response to hormones, making hormone therapy ineffective. 

About 25 to 30 percent of breast cancers are hormone receptor-negative. They tend to grow more quickly than hormone receptor-positive breast cancers, and are more common in women who have not gone through menopause

Dignity Health’s Bay Area hospitals offer a full range of cancer diagnosis and treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy to treat breast cancer. To get more information about our personalized treatment for hormone receptor-negative breast cancer in the Bay Area, use our online Find a Doctor tool.

Hormone Receptor-Negative Breast Cancer Symptoms

There are no characteristic symptoms for hormone receptor-negative breast cancer. Mammogram screenings usually find most breast cancers before symptoms develop. When symptoms are present, they can include:

  • Breast lump
  • Change in size, shape, or appearance of the nipple or breast
  • Inverted nipple
  • Nipple discharge that isn’t breast milk
  • Skin changes on the nipple or breast
  • Swelling of part or all of the breast

Diagnosis of Hormone Receptor-Negative Breast Cancer

In most cases, Dignity Health doctors diagnose hormone receptor-negative breast cancer with a biopsy. This sample of cells can tell them about the HER-2 status, hormone receptor status, grade, and specific tumor subtype. This information helps guide your doctor when developing your personalized treatment plan.

Treating Hormone Receptor-Negative Breast Cancer

The extent of your treatment will depend on the stage of your breast cancer. Surgery is the primary treatment option for most cases of hormone receptor-negative breast cancer. Lumpectomy removes the tumor and some surrounding normal tissue. Radiation therapy is usually necessary afterwards. Mastectomy removes the entire breast.

Chemotherapy is also a common treatment for hormone receptor-negative breast cancer. These medicines can stop cancer cells from growing or kill them. Targeted therapies may also be an option if your tumor is positive for the HER2 protein. These drugs use a marker on cancer cells to identify and destroy them.

Although hormone therapy is not an option for hormone receptor-negative breast cancer, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are very effective treatments. In fact, some research suggests chemotherapy may be more effective against hormone receptor-negative tumors than hormone receptor-positive tumors. 

Dignity Health’s Bay Area hospitals will walk you through your options and help you make the right decision for your well-being.

Dignity Health doctors diagnose and treat hormone receptor-negative breast cancer in the Bay Area, including San FranciscoSanta Cruz, and Redwood City.