How do doctors make treatment decisions?

If you have been given a breast cancer diagnosis, your doctor will need to understand certain factors about your cancer including the stage and subtype of your tumour. This will help to determine which treatment may be most beneficial.

Why is your subtype important?

There are various treatment options available for the different subtypes of breast cancer. It is important for you to fully understand the different treatment options available and the benefits and drawbacks of each option. Different treatments can impact on you and your everyday life, so it can be beneficial to talk over each option with your doctor and decide together.Breast cancer is grouped into specific subtypes. The subtype will be confirmed once a biopsy has been taken and tested in the laboratory. Once your subtype is known, the doctor can discuss which treatment options will be suitable for you.

To understand what a subtype is,

please see ‘What is my subtype?’ by clicking here

Here are the four main subtypes of secondary breast cancer:

Hormone receptor positive HER2 positive

Hormone receptor negative HER2 positive

Hormone receptor positive HER2 negative

Hormone receptor negative HER2 negative (also known as triple-negative)

What treatment can be given for each subtype?

Treatment for your breast cancer is determined by your subtype. Your cancer will be tested to see if it is both HER2 positive and HR positive. From there, you and your doctor will discuss your treatment goals, along with the benefits and drawbacks of available therapies.

The range of therapies available for secondary breast cancer is increasing. There are now alternatives to chemotherapy. Click on the appropriate box below to see which treatment options may be suitable for you. If you don’t know your subtype, your doctor will be able to tell you.

Hormone receptor-positive

HER2 negative

Hormone receptor-positive

HER2 positive

Hormone receptor-negative

HER2 positive

Hormone receptor-negative

HER2 negative (triple negative)

Hormone receptor-positive and HER2-negative

  • This subtype is also called HR+/HER2- breast cancer
  • This type of cancer has tested positive for hormone receptors
  • This type of cancer has tested negative for HER2 so will not respond to HER2 targeted therapy.

You may chose not to have any treatment for your secondary breast cancer. Palliative care can be used instead.

Your doctor will help you understand more about your treatment options and help you decide if treatment is right for you.

Find out how you can be more involved in your treatment decision

Hormone receptor-positive and HER2 positive

  • This subtype is also called HR+/HER2+ breast cancer
  • This type of cancer has tested positive for hormone receptors
  • This type of cancer has also tested positive for HER2

You may chose not to have any treatment for your secondary breast cancer. Palliative care can be used instead.

Your doctor will help you understand more about your treatment options and help you decide if treatment is right for you.

Click here to find out how you can be more involved in your treatment decision

Hormone receptor-negative and HER2-positive

  • This subtype is also called HR-/HER2+ breast cancer
  • This type of cancer has tested positive for HER2
  • This type of cancer has tested negative for hormone receptors so will not respond to hormone therapies

You may chose not to have any treatment for your secondary breast cancer. Palliative care can be used instead.

Your doctor will help you understand more about your treatment options and help you decide if treatment is right for you.

Find out how you can be more involved in your treatment decision

Hormone receptor-negative and HER2-negative (triple negative) breast cancer

  • This subtype is also called HR-/HER2- or triple negative breast cancer
  • This type of cancer has tested negative for hormone receptors so will not respond to hormone therapy.
  • This type of cancer has tested negative for HER2 so will not respond to HER2 targeted therapy.
  • There are alternative treatment options available

You may chose not to have any treatment for your secondary breast cancer. Palliative care can be used instead.

Your doctor will help you understand more about your treatment options and help you decide if treatment is right for you.

Find out how you can be more involved in your treatment decision

It is important to remember if your treatment stops working and your cancer progresses, there may still be other options available to you. Ask your doctor for more information. Click here to find out how you can be more involved in your treatment decision