Breast Cancer Glossary of Terms

The following are health and medical definitions of terms that appear in the Breast Cancer article.

Ablation: Removal or excision. Ablation is usually carried out surgically. For example, su...

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Abnormal: Outside the expected norm, or uncharacteristic of a particular patient.

Acetate: A molecular ion derived from acetic acid. The formula of acetate is CH3COO-.

Adjacent: Lying nearby. Related terms include superjacent, subjacent, and circumjacent. Fr...

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Adjuvant: A substance that helps and enhances the effect of a drug, treatment, or biologic...

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Adjuvant chemotherapy: Chemotherapy given after removal of a cancerous tumor to further he...

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Anastrozole: An oral antiestrogen. Anastrozole inhibits the enzyme aromatase in the adren...

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Angiosarcoma: A form of tissue cancer (sarcoma) that arises in the lining of blood vessels...

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Antibody: An immunoglobulin, a specialized immune protein, produced because of the introdu...

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Antiestrogen: A substance that can prevent the full expression of estrogen.

Arimidex: Brand name for anastrozole, an oral antiestrogen. Arimidex inhibits the enzyme a...

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Aromasin: Brand name of exemestane, an oral antiestrogen. Aromasin inhibits the enzyme aro...

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Aspiration: Removal by suction of fluid and cells through a needle. Aspiration also refer...

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Axilla: Armpit.

Axillary: Pertaining to the armpit, the cavity beneath the junction of the arm and the bod...

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Benign: Not malignant. A benign tumor is one that does not invade surrounding tissue or sp...

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Biopsy: The removal of a sample of tissue for examination under a microscope to check for ...

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Brain: The portion of the central nervous system that is located within the skull. It func...

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BRCA2: A gene that normally acts to restrain the growth of cells in the breast and ovary b...

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Breast cancer: Breast cancer is diagnosed with self- and physician-examination of the brea...

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Breast discharge: The spontaneous flow of fluid from the nipple at any time other than dur...

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Breast lump: A localized swelling, knot, bump, bulge or protuberance in the breast. Breast...

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Cancer: An abnormal growth of cells which tend to proliferate in an uncontrolled way and, ...

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Cancer causes: In most individual cases of cancer, the exact cause of cancer is unknown. T...

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Cancer symptoms: Abnormal sensations or conditions that persons can notice that are a resu...

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Carcinoma: Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover body organs. Ex...

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Carcinoma in situ: Cancer that has stayed in the place where it began and has not spread t...

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Cell: The basic structural and functional unit of any living thing. Each cell is a small c...

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Chemotherapy: 1. In the original sense, a chemical that binds to and specifically k...

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Chest: The area of the body located between the neck and the abdomen. The chest contains t...

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Chest X-ray: A type of X-ray commonly used to detect abnormalities in the lungs. A chest X...

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Collarbone: A horizontal bone above the first rib that makes up the front part of the shou...

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Cure: 1. To heal, to make well, to restore to good health. 2. A time withou...

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Cysts: Cysts are abnormal, closed sac-like structures within a tissue that contain a liqui...

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DCIS: Ductal carcinoma in situ. A precancerous condition characterized by the clonal proli...

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Diagnosis: 1 The nature of a disease; the identification of an illness. 2 A ...

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Discharge: 1.The flow of fluid from part of the body, such as from the nose or vag...

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Emergency department: The department of a hospital responsible for the provision of medica...

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Estrogen: A female steroid hormone that is produced by the ovaries and, in lesser amounts,...

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Estrogens: Female hormones produced by the ovaries. Estrogen deficiency can lead to osteop...

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Exemestane: An oral antiestrogen. Exemestane inhibits the enzyme aromatase in the adrenal...

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Fatigue: A condition characterized by a lessened capacity for work and reduced efficiency ...

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FDA: Food and Drug Administration.

Femara: Brand name for letrozole, an oral antiestrogen. Femara inhibits the enzyme aromata...

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Gene: The basic biological unit of heredity. A segment of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) need...

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Genes: The basic biological units of heredity. Segments of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) nee...

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Genetic: Having to do with genes and genetic
information.

Genetics: The scientific study of heredity. Genetics pertains to humans and all other orga...

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Hormone: A chemical substance produced in the body that controls and regulates the activit...

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Hormone therapy: Treatment of disease or symptoms with synthetic or naturally derived horm...

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In situ: In the normal location. An in situ tumor is one that is confined to its site of o...

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Incision: A cut through skin or other tissue performed by a health care professional.

Infection: The invasion and multiplication of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, an...

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Internal radiation therapy: Radiation therapy in which a small container of radioactive ma...

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Letrozole: An oral antiestrogen. Letrozole inhibits the enzyme aromatase in the adrenal g...

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Lifetime risk: The risk of developing a disease during ones lifetime or dying of the disea...

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Liver: The largest solid organ in the body, situated in the upper part of the abdomen on t...

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Local treatment: Treatment that affects the tumor and the area close to it.

Longevity: Lifespan. Increased longevity means a longer life.

Lumpectomy: The surgical removal of a small tumor, which may be benign or cancerous. In co...

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Lung cancer: Cancer of the major organ of respiration - the lung. Lung cancer is one of th...

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Lymph: The almost colorless fluid that travels through the lymphatic system, carrying cell...

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Lymph node: One of many small, bean-shaped organs located throughout the lymphatic system....

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Malignancy: A tumor that is malignant (cancerous), that can invade and destroy nearby tiss...

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Mammogram: An X-ray of the breast that is taken with a device that compresses and flattens...

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Mastectomy: A general term for removal of the breast, usually to remove cancerous tissue. ...

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Maternal: 1. Pertaining to the mother as, for example, the maternal mortality rate....

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Menopause: The time in a woman's life when menstrual periods permanently stop; it is also ...

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Menstrual: Pertaining to menstruation (the menses), as in last menstrual period, menstrua...

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Metastasis: 1. The process by which cancer spreads from the place at which it firs...

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Metastasize: The spread from one part of the body to another. When cancer cells metastasiz...

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Microscope: An optical instrument that augments the power of the eye to see small objects....

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Monoclonal: Derived from a single cell and cells identical to that cell.

Monoclonal antibody: An antibody produced by a single clone of cells. A monoclonal antibod...

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MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging.

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Muscle: Muscle is the tissue of the body which primarily functions as a source of power. T...

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Mutation: A permanent change, a structural alteration, in the DNA or RNA. In humans and m...

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Nausea: Stomach queasiness, the urge to vomit. Nausea can be brought on by many causes, in...

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NIH: National Institutes of Health.

Nipple discharge: See: Breast discharge.

Node: Literally a knot, a node is a collection of tissue. For example a lymph node, is a ...

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Obese: Well above one's normal weight. A person has traditionally been considered to be ob...

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Obesity: The state of being well above one's normal weight.

Oral contraceptive: A birth control pill taken by mouth. Most oral contraceptives include...

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Osteoporosis: Thinning of the bones, with reduction in bone mass, due to depletion of calc...

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Ovarian: Of or pertaining to the ovary.

Ovarian cancer: A malignant tumor of the ovary, the egg sac in a female. Women who have a ...

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Ovary: The female gonad, one of a pair of reproductive glands in women. The ovaries are lo...

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Overweight: The term "overweight" is used in two different ways. In one sense it is a way ...

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Pain: An unpleasant sensation that can range from mild, localized discomfort to agony. Pa...

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Palpate: To touch or feel. For example, a physician may palpate the liver's edge when exam...

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Paternal: 1. Pertaining to the father as, for example, a paternal age effect.
...

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Pathologist: A physician who identifies diseases and conditions by studying abnormal cells...

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Postmenopausal: After menopause, the period of time after a woman has experienced 12 conse...

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Predispose: To make more likely or render susceptible. Smoking predisposes to a number of ...

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Progesterone: A female hormone, the principal hormone that prepares the uterus to receive ...

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Prognosis: The forecast of the probable outcome or course of a disease; the patient's chan...

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Proliferative: Growing and increasing in number rapidly.

Prophylactic: A preventive measure. The word comes from the Greek for "an advance guard," ...

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Protein: One of the three nutrients used as energy sources (calories) by the body. Protein...

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Proteins: Large molecules composed of one or more chains of amino acids in a specific orde...

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Quality of life: The patient's ability to enjoy normal life activities. Quality of life is...

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Radiation: 1. Rays of energy. Gamma rays and X-rays are two of the types of energy ...

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Radiation therapy: The use of high-energy rays to damage cancer cells, stopping them from ...

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Radioactive: Emitting energy waves due to decaying atomic nuclei. Radioactive substances a...

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Radiotherapy: The treatment of disease with ionizing radiation. Also called radiation ther...

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Receptor: 1. In cell biology, a structure on the surface of a cell (or inside a cel...

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Recurrence: The return of a sign, symptom, or disease after a remission. The reappearance ...

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Risk factor: Something that increases a person's chances of developing a disease. For exam...

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Sentinel node biopsy: See: Sentinel lymph node biopsy.

Stage: As regards cancer, the extent of a cancer, especially whether the disease has spre...

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Staging: stagingDoing exams and tests to learn the extent of a cancer, especially whether ...

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Substance: 1. Material with particular features.
2. The material that...

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Sunburn: Sunburn is an inflammation of the skin that develops in response to exposure to u...

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Surgeon: A physician who treats disease, injury, or deformity via operative or manual meth...

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Surgery: The branch of medicine that employs operations in the treatment of disease or inj...

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Symptom: Any subjective evidence of disease. In contrast, a sign is objective. Blood comin...

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Therapy: The treatment of disease. Therapy is synonymous with treatment.

Tired: A feeling of a lessened capacity for work and reduced efficiency of accomplishment,...

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Tumor: An abnormal mass of tissue. Tumors are a classic sign of inflammation, and can be ...

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Ultrasound: High-frequency sound waves. Ultra-sound waves can be bounced off tissues by us...

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X-ray: High-energy radiation with waves shorter than those of visible light. X-ray is used...

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