A breast cancer diagnosis can bring with it a lot of confusion. If you are struggling to understand certain terms or words, it can be a good idea keep this glossary of breast cancer terms nearby.
|Active treatment||the period of treatment after a breast cancer diagnosis which can include some or all of the following: surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy|
|Advanced breast cancer||another term for secondary, metastatic or stage 4 breast cancer (see secondary breast cancer)|
|Adjuvant therapy/treatment||treatment after breast cancer surgery, e.g. chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy|
|Alternative therapies||treatments that are used instead of conventional cancer treatment, e.g. coffee enemas or products that claim to cure or remove cancer completely. There is no clinical evidence to support the use of alternative therapies.|
|Areola||the area around the nipple|
|Aromatase Inhibitors||hormonal therapy drugs which are often prescribed after active treatment (ie surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiotherapy) is completed. Hormone therapies are used to treat women who are diagnosed with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. Examples of aromatase inhibitors include anastrozole (Arimidex), letrozole (Femara) and exemestane (Aromasin). There are generic brands which have the same active ingredients and work in the same way.|
|Axillary dissection/clearance||removal of some or all of the lymph nodes from the armpit to see if the breast cancer has spread beyond the breast.|
|Biopsy||removal of cells or tissue from the body for examination to determine whether or not they are cancer|
|BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene faults/mutations||Women with a fault, or mutation, in one of these genes have a higher than normal chance of developing breast or ovarian cancer|
|Breast conserving surgery||
surgery to remove breast cancer and a small area of healthy tissue around the cancer. Also known as lumpectomy.
|Breast prostheses||temporary or permanent moulds worn in the bra to replicate the shape of a breast|
|Carcinoma||another word for cancer|
treatment for cancer using drugs such as taxanes (Abraxane, Taxotere) and anthracyclines (doxorubicin, epirubicin)
Studies involving patients to see if a new treatment is better than an existing treatment
Complementary medicines are products that are used in addition to conventional medical treatments (e.g. chemotherapy and hormone therapies). Complementary medicines include vitamin and mineral supplements, such as fish oil capsules or vitamin D tablets, and herbal medicines.
Complementary therapies are practices that are used in addition to conventional medical treatments (e.g. chemotherapy and hormone therapies).Some examples of complementary therapies often used by women with breast cancer include massage, yoga, acupuncture and reflexology. Compare with complementary medicines.
removal of both breasts during breast cancer surgery
|Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)||
non-invasive breast cancer confined to the ducts of the breast
|Early breast cancer||
breast cancer that has not spread beyond the breast or lymph nodes under the arm (known as axillary lymph nodes)
menopause occurring in women under 45 years of age. Early menopause is often a side effect of some common treatments for breast cancer.
drugs used to treat women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. Hormone therapies work to either reduce the amount of hormone in the body, or to stop it from working. Common hormone therapies used in Australia include tamoxifen, and the aromatase inhibitors anastrozole (Arimidex), letrozole (Femara) and exemestane (Aromasin).
the injection of fluids, such as chemotherapy drugs or other substances the body needs, into the blood stream using a needle
|Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)||
non-invasive breast cancer that is confined to the lobules of the breast
glands in the armpit and other parts of the body that filter and drain lymph fluid, trapping bacteria, cancer cells and any other particles that could be harmful to the body
A condition that sometimes develops when lymph nodes have been removed during breast cancer surgery and the lymph fluid no longer drains freely, causing swelling in the arm, hand or breast
another name for breast conserving surgery (see breast conserving surgery)
removal of the whole breast during breast cancer surgery
a health professional who specialises in the treatment of women with breast cancer using chemotherapy, and in managing cancer pain and other symptoms
|Metastatic breast cancer||
another term for secondary, advanced, or stage 4 breast cancer (see secondary breast cancer)
a team of health professionals who work together to manage a woman’s treatment and care
chemotherapy treatment given before breast cancer surgery (sometimes used to reduce the size of the tumour to make it easier for the surgeon to operate)
treatment given before breast cancer surgery (e.g. chemotherapy, hormone therapy)
a type of female hormone
another term for breast conserving surgery (see breast conserving surgery)
a summary of test results following a biopsy or surgery. See BCNA’s Breast Cancer Pathology fact sheet for further information.
|PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme)||
a scheme funded by the Australian Government to subsidise the cost of certain drugs for eligible consumers
a type of female hormone
|Prophylactic (preventative) mastectomy||
surgery to remove one or both breasts to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
treatment for cancer using X-rays that target a particular area of the body
|Secondary breast cancer||
breast cancer that has spread from the breast to other, more distant parts of the body, most commonly the bones, lungs, liver and sometimes the brain. Also known as advanced, metastatic, or stage 4 breast cancer.
|Sentinel node biopsy||
identification and removal of the first lymph node to which the breast cancer may have spread for testing by a pathologist
fluid that collects in or around a scar after surgery
the period after active treatment for cancer (ie surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy) is completed
drugs that stop the growth of particular types of cancer cells. Targeted therapies target cancer cells directly, without harming normal cells. Also known as biological therapies. Herceptin and Tykerb are examples of a targeted therapy.