Breast cancer awareness month is coming up in October, but many would agree that one month isn't enough time to spread knowledge about the often deadly disease.
Five year cancer survivor Stephanie Parker-Weaver, the president of "Rebirth Alliance" organized the "What's New in Her 2+/Triple- Breast Cancer" conference. Medical professionals and legislative leaders joined Weaver to put a spotlight on the Her2+ and Triple- genes which Weaver said are virtually unheard of. The genes cause more aggressive, faster-spreading and deadlier forms of breast cancer. Weaver who is cancer free now, said the genes are not hereditary, so the only way to find out if you carry them is once you're diagnosed with breast cancer.
"That's the crazy thing, you can have breast cancer and even when you're diagnosed very early like I was, it looked like 12 grains of sand in one area of my breast and I was told it was nothing to be concerned about, but after I was operated on I came two realize and was told the gene and cancer had spread to my lymphatic system," said Weaver.
"Twenty-five to thirty percent of women with breast cancer have this gene and what it does is it over expresses this gene to where it causes the cancer cells to grow more rapidly and become more aggressive," said Dr. Van Lackey, a former oncologist and the Medical Director of Cancer Services at Baptist Hospital.
There's only a 40 to 50 percent long-term survival rate for patients diagnosed with Her2+ or Triple- forms of breast cancers. Tumor size and cancer stage don't matter when diagnosed with these genes. For more information on Her2+/Triple- breast cancers go to the Rebirth Alliance Inc., website at www.rebirthalliance.org.