Grade 3 IDC, ER8, PR8, HER2 3+

What does that all mean??

I know its grade 3 invasal ductal carcinoma, herception positive - but what does the rest of it mean? I love the medical jargon which basically is all codes and means nothing to the naked eye.
Thanks for your help.

Hello Helen

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with best wishes
June, moderator

Hi Helen,

You have exactly the same diagnosis as I have!

It basically means that you cancer is receptive to the hormones oestrogen and progesterone and that is what is feeding the cancer, you have too many of a certain kind of cell receptor, that’s the HER2 bit. Grade 3 means that it is agressive and has the means by which to spread to other areas - but that does not mean that it has!!!

It is all very technical and can be very overwhelming. Ask you breast care nurse or consultant to go through what it all means for you exactly. - then you can look on this site to read more about it.

If you want to chat as you go forward just message me.


BCC do a great booklet on understanding your pathology report:

Basically IDC and Grade 3 means it has the potential to spread - so good job it’s been caught and will be whipped out and treated!

The fact that it is ER+ means it is sensitive to the hormone oestrogen and you will probably have hormone therapy drugs (such as Tamoxifen).

HER2+++ means the cells over express some sort of protein which makes them grow quicker - but there’s another drug - Herceptin - which helps combat this.

Good to chat through the details with your breast care nurse, oncologist or the BCC helpline.


I am her2 positive too. It means that the cancer is receptive to a protein not hormones. The ER parts of your diagnosis means the hormone bit, but Her2 positive is a protein. I have this as well.

As well as having your chemo, you will be given a drug called herceptin too.

About one in four breast cancer tumors is HER2-positive, which means it makes too much of the protein HER2, a human epidermal growth factor.

Good luck. xx

Same as me too. Because it is aggressive and her 2 triple pos, it isn’t necessarily as bad as it sounds. My Onc told me that this type is very treatable, the cells divide fast, that means it reacts to chemo very well as chemo attacks the fast dividing cells. Also you can have herceptin to sort the her2+++ bit. And as you know the cells also have a lot of receptors for estrogen and progestorone on them which helps them feed off of these from your body, the chemo sorts that out (I have gone into early menopause). Mine has not spread to my lymph nodes which is good news. I have been treated with 4 x FEC, 4 x TAX, and I am continuing with Herceptin for a year, Tamoxifen will be for 5 years and I am waiting to start 25 rads. My Onc told me that with all this my survival rate is almost 100%!!! I had my Mirena coil removed as it emitted hormones and I have cut out any food with hormones in (full fat cows milk, soy milk etc). Have you had a lymph node biopsy yet? Try to stay positive sweetie, its tough but doable xxx

Posted for new user Chris,
Jo, Facilitator

My breast cancer was grade 3, fast growing and aggressive, found by the way of my first routine mammogram at the age of 49.

It had spread to 3 of the 13 lymph nodes which were removed. I was also HER2 positive. I had chemotherapy for 8 months, radiotherapy for 3 weeks, followed by herceptin for twelve months. I was very lucky with the herceptin as it was passed by NICE on the morning I was told I could have it.

I was diagnosed in February 2005 so it is six and a half years for me, I just wanted everybody who has the diagnosis now, to know that I am still around, I am now a grandma and I am happy. Yes the treatments were not nice, but you get through them, live life to the full, enjoy. Best of luck and love to everybody xx

Thanks for posting that lovely message from Chris, it’s just that kind of thing that we need to read, to give us hope.

Just to add that the PR8 is realy good, it means that tomaxifan will be realy effective, much more so than on people with a low PR score. They did not use to do that test, but now they do to see who will benefit most.

I can also help with another good news story, hopefully. I was grade 3, ER strongly positive PR focally positive, HER2 positive. Had WLE, FEC, 6 weeks of radiotherapy and a year of Herceptin and I am still on Aromasin. Diagnosed April 2007 so more than 4 years ago now. I am feeling really well and fitter than I have been for many years, as I have lost lots of weight and I now take loads of exercise. I agree with Chris, the treatments weren’t nice but they were definitely worthwhile. I have been mother of the bride once (last year) and will be for the second time this weekend. And we have travelled all over the world, working through our list of places to visit (although as we cross some off, we keep adding new ones!)

So good luck to everyone currently having treatment. It seems endless at the time, but you can get through it.
All the best

Jo and Ann,

Thank you so much for posting those good news stories… today has been rotten so far, but those have turned it around. I think I might be able to sleep tonight!!


I would also like to say thank you to those who have posted their stories about being 4 or 5 years post diagnosis. I am currently on Letrozole and Herceptin having had surgery, chemo and rads. Yes, it is a difficult road at times, however my zest for life now is so profound. I marvel at the simple things I have taken somewhat for granted in the past. I wish I had not had to take this journey and would wish that for all people going through this, however these positive stories are just what I need. What we all need. i wish you continued good health and all the best to those going through their treatment. J.

Hi everyone, hope you don’t mind me joining in but wanted to say a big thanks for all those positive comments, as I am feeling really worried about my results of bone scan and ct scan and am convinced the cancer has spread everywhere !!! I have had recently 1 of 6 FEC for Grade 3 with one lymph node affected, the plan is six sessions of chemo followed by an operation. Has anyone else had similar treatment I am worried that an op might have been better to get rid of the 4cm tumour but was advised by doctor this was best plan. x

GG - I’m having chemo first too. It’s horrible knowing it’s in there, brooding away isn’t it!! BUT at least we have a way of gauging whether the chemo is working - whereas if they whip it out first you will never know! One of the girls on here who I’ve met a couple of times had a complete pathological response and when she had her op after chemo all of the cancer was gone in her breast and lymph nodes. Now, if that happens to me I will be over the moon!!

Are you having a mastectomy? If not, it also means that they will remove less of the breast as hopefully it will shrink down quite considerably. x

I am having chemo first to, just like what you said Sandytoes horrible brooding away.

Rose XXX

Hi Google Girl,

I’m in a SIMILAR boat but still waiting on whether to go for mastectomy or chemo first (had wide local excision and lymph nodes removed last week but tumour bigger (4.5cm) and more spread around the breast than they had anticipated. Part of my confusion, I guess, was that it didn’t look like I could see the oncologists straight away, whilst the surgeon COULD slice it off (so to speak) pretty quickly. But now got appointment TOMORROW, so will see how it goes.

Sorry, wittering on but wanted to say that my major point of freak out was also the thought that it had spread. But, results (received yesterday) showed that only one lymph node affected and CT and NM bone scans CLEAR. I hope you get similarly good news.

Sandytoes, are you also in a a ‘similar’ stage of the journey? If you have an equally black sense of humour, we should compare notes!!


I’m halfway through chemo now - just had my first TAX today - so well and truly en route now. It is a bit weird knowing that there are baddies brooding away inside of you, but I just imagine the chemo zapping it all away and like the fact that we can guage whether the chemo’s working (AC didn’t have any effect of the size - that’s not to say that it’s not full of dead cells - but I was hoping for some shrinkage. Hoping Tax is my drug).

I know I have at least 2 lymph nodes effected, but not sure how many.

Good luck with the onc tomorrow - it will be interesting to see what he says…


Hi im new to the site. I was diagnosed in 1999 at the age of 32.
My results wre T2,c3,n1,ER NEG.

The only re ason i know this as coudnt face the diagnosis at time and just piked them upfrom my gp toda.
First to let you know i was diagnose 10 years ago and still here, but could someone explain the medical terms as i really dont get it!
And keep going all of you, your doing so well.

Dear Ticean,

I have attached a link to a thread which explains what many of the abbreviations stand for:

I hope this is helpful

Very best wishes

BCC Facilitator