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What does Her 2 neu mean?

Her 2 neu is a cancer gene. Some breast cancers and stomach cancers have a gene fault that causes this gene to be permanently switched on. Your doctor may say that your cancer is HER2 positive (also written HER2+).

Her 2 neu is a relatively recent discovery. Scientists have discovered that breast cancers with this cancer gene (oncogene) are faster growing and more likely to become resistant to chemotherapy. Breast cancers have this gene fault in between between 20 and 25 out of every 100 women diagnosed with early breast cancer (20 to 25%). Up to 3 out of 10 women with breast cancer that has spread (30%) have this gene fault. 

Trastuzumab (Herceptin) is a treatment for breast cancer that targets the Her 2 neu cancer gene. Herceptin is a type of drug called a monoclonal antibody. This is an antibody made in the laboratory that targets cancer cells with the Her 2 neu gene fault.

There is detailed information about genes and cancer in the about cancer section.

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Updated: 15 August 2014