Learn what common breast cancer terms mean
BRCA 1, BRCA 2
Inherited genes. Certain mutations on these genes signal a higher risk for breast cancer.
A type of radiation therapy in which sealed radioactive material is placed directly in or near a tumor. Also called implant radiation therapy or internal radiation therapy.
Carcinoma In Situ
Carcinoma In Situ involves abnormal cells (noninvasive cancer cells) growing within a confined area, within the milk ducts that have not broken through (invaded) beyond the duct walls. In Situ means “in place” meaning these abnormal cells have not left “their own neighborhood.”
A breast cancer tumor marker found in blood, fluids or tissue. Used to diagnose, evaluate treatment, or determine if cancer has come back.
Treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells. May be combined with radiotherapy.
Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 is a protein found on breast cancer cells.
Hormone receptor status
A test to measure proteins in cancer tissue. A high level of hormone receptors may indicate potential for cancer growth.
Treatment to block or reduce the body’s natural hormones to stop or slow the growth of breast cancer.
The cancer cells have broken through the duct walls and invaded the surrounding tissue. These cells can then spread to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system and blood stream.
Breast-conserving surgery to remove a tumor (lump) and a small amount of normal tissue around it.
Lymph nodes are bean-size filters along the lymphatic system lymph channels. They contain special white blood cells, protect against foreign matter gaining entrance to the blood stream, and are very important in fighting infection. Foreign matter, such as bacteria from an infection or cancer cells, may become trapped in lymph nodes.
An X-ray of the breast.
Surgical removal of all or part of the breast, sometimes including underlying muscles and lymph nodes.
The removal of tissue for examination under a microscope by a pathologist.
A description of cells and tissues based on microscopic evidence. Sometimes used to make a diagnosis.
X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons or protons used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body or from material placed in the body near cancer cells. Learn about shortened 5-day radiotherapy
The sentinel node is the first lymph node into which a tumor drains, and may be the one most likely to contain cancer cells. It can be identified through injection
of blue dye or a radioactive tracer the morning of surgery. There may be more than one sentinel node identified and removed in surgery.
Stage I Breast Cancer
Stage I is defined as an invasive tumor size being <2 centimeters that has not spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage II Breast Cancer
Tumor is 2 to 5 centimeters or has spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone.
Stage III Breast Cancer
Tumor is found in the breast or lymph nodes, or has spread to the chest wall.
Stage IV Breast Cancer
Tumor has spread to other organs, most often the bones, lungs, liver or brain.
Treatment using drugs to identify and attack specific cancer cells with less harm to normal cells. May have fewer side effects than other types of cancer treatment.
Describes how cancer cells look under the microscope and how quickly a tumor is likely to grow or spread.