a b c d e g h i l m o p r s t u

a

Abnormal

Not normal. Describes a state, condition, or behavior that is unusual or different from what is considered normal.

Antiestrogen

Known also as estrogen antagonists or estrogen blockers, or a class of drugs would prevent estrogens like estradiol from mediating their biological effects in the body. They act by blocking the estrogen receptor (ER) and/or suppressing estrogen production.

b

Benign

Not cancerous. Benign tumors may grow larger but do not spread to other parts of the body. Also called nonmalignant.

Bilateral Salpingo-oophorectomy (BSO)

The surgical removal of ovarian and fallopian tube tissue.

Biomarker

A biological molecule found in blood, other body fluids, or tissues that is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease. A biomarker may be used to see how well the body responds to a treatment for a disease or condition.

Biopsy

The removal of cells or tissues for examination by a pathologist.

Brachytherapy

A type of radiation therapy in which radioactive material sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters is placed directly into or near a tumor.

BRCA1 and BRCA2

The names for the first two genes discovered that increase risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

Breast Cancer

A type of cancer that starts in the breast. It can start in one or both breasts.

Breast Surgical Oncologist

A specialist surgeon, who is an expert in breast cancer surgery and who is trained in all aspects of breast cancer care.

c

Cancer

A term for diseases that have in common the uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cells. Cancer cells can spread through the blood stream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.

Cell

In biology, the smallest unit that can live on its own and that makes up all living organisms and the tissues of the body.

Chemotherapy

Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing.

Clinical trial

A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people.

Colonoscopy

A medical procedure where a long, flexible, tubular instrument called the colonoscope is used to view the entire inner lining of the colon (large intestine) and the rectum. Usually performed to detect and remove colon polyps which lead to colon cancer and to detect colon cancer.

CT scan

A procedure that uses a computer linked to an x-ray machine to make a series of pictures of the areas inside the body.

d

Diagnosis

The process of identifying a disease, condition, or injury from its signs and symptoms.

Ducts

Small canals that come out from the lobules and carry the milk to the nipple. This is the most common place for breast cancer to start. Cancers that start here are called ductal cancers.

e

Efficacy

Effectiveness. In medicine, the ability of an intervention (for example, a drug or surgery) to produce the desired beneficial effect.

Estrogen- and Progesterone-receptor status

A measurement of the cancer cells’ receptors (proteins found in and on breast cells) for the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Estrogen receptor positive

Describes cells that have a receptor protein that binds the hormone estrogen. Cancer cells that are estrogen receptor positive may need estrogen to grow, and may stop growing or die when treated with substances that block the binding and actions of estrogen.

g

Gene

An individual unit of hereditary information that is located at a specific position within the chromosome. A gene provides coded information for a specific characteristic, trait, or body function.

h

HER2

Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, is a protein that helps breast cancer cells grow quickly. Breast cancer cells with higher-than-normal levels of HER2 are called HER2–positive. These cancers tend to grow and spread faster than breast cancers that are HER2 negative, but are much more likely to respond to treatment with drugs that target the HER2 protein.

Hysterectomy

The surgical removal of the uterus.

i

Imaging

In medicine, a process that makes pictures of areas inside the body. Imaging uses methods such as x-rays (high-energy radiation), ultrasound (high-energy sound waves), and radio waves.

Immunotherapy

A type of therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection, and other diseases.

In vitro fertilization (IVF)

A procedure in which mature eggs are retrieved from a woman's ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab.

Intravenous (IV)

Into or within a vein. Intravenous usually refers to a way of giving a drug or other substance through a needle or tube inserted into a vein. Also called IV.

l

Laparoscopic surgery

Surgery done with the aid of a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease.

Lobules

The glands that make breast milk. Cancers that start here are lobular cancers.

Lymph node

A small bean-shaped structure that is part of the body’s immune system. Lymph nodes filter substances that travel through the lymphatic fluid, and they contain lymphocytes (white blood cells) that help the body fight infection and disease.

m

Malignant

Cancerous. Malignant cells can invade and destroy nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.

Mass

In medicine, a lump in the body. It may be caused by the abnormal growth of cells, a cyst, hormonal changes, or an immune reaction. A mass may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).

Mastectomy

The surgical removal of a breast.

Medical Oncologist

A specialist physician trained to diagnose and treat cancer with medicine, such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy and immunotherapy. Usually called an oncologist.

Menopause

When periods have ceased for over a year.

MRI

A procedure in which radio waves and a powerful magnet linked to a computer are used to create detailed pictures of areas inside the body. These pictures can show the difference between normal and diseased tissue.

Mutation

A change in the normal sequence, or chemical spelling, of DNA, the genetic material.

o

Oncology

The study and treatment of cancer. A physician who practices oncology is an oncologist.

Oophorectomy

Surgical removal of a woman’s ovaries. A salpingo-oophorectomy removes a woman's ovaries and fallopian tubes.

p

Paget disease of the breast

A rare type of cancer involving the skin of the nipple and usually, the darker circle of skin around it, which is called the areola.

Palliative care

Care given to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease. The goal of palliative care is to prevent or treat as early as possible the symptoms of a disease, side effects caused by treatment of a disease, and psychological, social, and spiritual problems related to a disease or its treatment.

Partial Mastectomy

Surgical removal of cancerous breast tissue along with a rim of surrounding healthy tissue that will be used for further testing. Also known as “lumpectomy”.

Preimplantation Genetic Testing for monogenic/single gene defects (PGT-M)

A special test created uniquely for each family that is performed prior to pregnancy to greatly reduce the risk of having a child with a specific genetic mutation, such as a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.

Prophylactic

Risk reducing treatment, such as surgical removal of healthy tissue, in the hopes of preventing cancer.

Protein

A molecule made up of amino acids. Proteins are needed for the body to function properly.

r

Radiation oncologist

A specialist physician who treats cancer using radiation therapy, which is the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to destroy cancer cells.

Radiation therapy

The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons, and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

Risk Assessment

The process of assessing personal medical and family history to determine the chance that cancer could develop.

s

Salpingectomy

A surgery where the fallopian tubes, but not the ovaries, are removed.

Side effect

A problem that occurs when treatment affects healthy tissues or organs. Some common side effects of cancer treatment are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain, hair loss, and mouth sores.

Stage

The extent of a cancer in the body, (ie., tells us how aggressive the cancer may be). Staging is usually based on the tumor grade (a description of what the cells look like under the microscope and whether they are similar or very different to normal cells), size of the tumor (T), whether lymph nodes contain cancer (N), and whether the cancer has spread from the original site to other parts of the body (M).

t

Targeted therapy

A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells with less harm to normal cells.

Tissue expander

A tissue expander is a balloon device that is placed underneath the skin and muscles of the chest wall during breast reconstruction to create space for an eventual implant.

Tomosynthesis

Tomosynthesis is a newer technology for imaging breasts. Like a mammogram, it is a low-dose X-ray but renders a 3-dimensional (3D) image instead of a 2-dimensional one.

Triple-negative breast tumors

Triple-negative breast tumors don’t have too much HER2 and also don’t have estrogen or progesterone receptors. They are HER2-, ER-, and PR-negative. Hormone therapy and drugs that target HER2 are not helpful in treating these cancers.

Triple-positive breast tumors

Triple-positive breast tumors breast tumors are HER2+, ER+, and PR+ positive. These cancers are treated with hormone drugs as well as drugs that target HER2.

Tumor

An abnormal mass of tissue that forms when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Tumors may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer).

u

Ultrasound

A procedure that uses high-energy sound waves to look at tissues and organs inside the body.

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