Estrogen receptor negative breast cancers

Kevin Fox, MD
Last Modified: March 24, 2002


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Does breast cancer run along some continuum from estrogen-receptor positive to estrogen-receptor negative tumors? Are ER+ tumors a different disease than ER- tumors? I have been diagnosed with an ER- breast cancer and I am confused as to whether I am at increased risk of recurrence and general guidelines for prevention of recurrence.  


Kevin Fox, MD, Assistant Director, Clinical Affairs and Associate Professor of Hematology/Oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

No breast cancer is purely ER positive or ER negative. Patients can assume that all breast cancers contain some ER+ and ER- cells, and that there is a continuum. The fact is, that tumors that are ER- have a higher recurrence rate than those that are ER+. If you have an ER- cancer: strategies to increase or decrease estrogen levels will have no bearing on your recurrence risk. You need not take special dietary steps to change your recurrence risk.


The Best of the Breast
by OncoLink Editorial Team
October 03, 2014