Some definitions to help you understand certain words and terms found in the articles in this section

Adjuvant therapy: Treatment given in addition to the primary treatment (surgery or radiation). For breast cancer, thermotherapy or hormone therapy is used.

Anesthesia: Loss of feeling or sensation so that the patient does not feel pain.

Anesthesiologist: A doctor who specializes in giving anesthesia.

Aspiration: Removal of fluid or tissue by suction through a needle.

Benign tumor: A growth that is not cancer; it will not spread to other parts of the body.

Biopsy: Removal of a sample of tissue that is looked at under a microscope to see if cancer cells are present.

Cancer: Term for more than 100 diseases that have uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cells. Cancer cells may invade and destroy healthy tissues and spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.

Chemotherapy: Treatment with drugs to kill cancer cells.

Clinical trials: Studies of new medical treatments. Studies answer scientific questions and lead to better ways to treat patients.

Cyst: An abnormal sac or capsule within a tissue or an organ that is filled with fluid or semisolid substance. Cysts are not cancer.

Early stage breast cancer: Breast cancer that has not spread beyond the breast and underarm lymph nodes to other parts of the body.

Estrogen: A female hormone that some types of breast cancer cells need to grow.

External radiation: Radiation therapy that uses a machine located outside the body to aim high-energy rays at the cancer.

Frozen section: A thin slice of frozen biopsy tissue that is looked at under a microscope; a quick way to prepare biopsy tissue so that it can be examined to see if cancer is present.


assays: Tests that are done on breast cancer cells to tell if they need hormones to grow and if hormone therapy would be useful.

Hormones: Chemicals produced by certain glands in the body.

Hormone therapy: Cancer treatment that blocks, removes, or adds hormones to keep cancer cells from growing; sometimes called antihormone therapy.

Incision: A cut into tissue made by a surgeon.

Lumpectomy: Surgery that removes only the breast lump or cancerous tissue. Lumpectomy is usually followed by removal of the underarm lymph nodes and radiation therapy.

Lymph nodes: Small, bean-shaped organs that filter harmful bacteria. Nodes are found throughout the body in places such as the neck, underarm, and groin. Also called lymph glands.

Malignant: Cancerous

Mammogram: An x-ray of the breast. It can show cancer even before it can be felt.

Mastectomy: Surgery to remove the breast.

One-step procedure: Biopsy and surgical treatment done at the same time that cancer is found.

Pathologist: A doctor who identifies diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope.

Permanent section: Thin slices of biopsy tissue that are mounted on slides and looked at under a microscope. A permanent section takes several

days to prepare. It tells doctors if the tissue is cancer, the type of cancer it is, and other information that helps to plan treatment.

Progesterone: A female hormone that some breast cancer cells may need to grow.

Radiation therapy: Use of high-energy rays from x-rays or other sources to kill cancer cells.

Two-step procedure: Biopsy and treatment done in two stages, usually a week or two apart

X-ray: A type of radiation that is used at low levels to diagnose disease or in its high-energy form to treat cancer.

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