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    Breast Cancer Glossary




    Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
    See MRI

    A state of extreme tiredness and lack of well-being.

    Cancerous - a growth with a tendency to destroy nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.

    An x-ray of the breast.
    Also see related article -> How to Prepare for a Mammogram.

    An x-ray study of the breast.

    Surgery to remove as much of the breast tissue as necessary to insure that all cancer cells are eliminated.

    Medical oncologist
    A doctor who specializes in treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment. For example, a radiation oncologist specializes in treating cancer with radiation. Also see in Resources -> Finding Doctors

    The national health program through which certain medical and hospital expenses are paid for from Federal (mainly social security) funds. The program is open to individuals over the age of 65 and individuals with permanent disabilities.

    The hormonal phase in women when estrogen production decreases. It is marked by a woman's menstrual cycle stopping for at least a year. This may also be called "change of life." Also see related article -> Hormones - Turning Down the Heat on Hot Flashes.

    Menstrual cycle
    The monthly cycle of hormonal changes from the beginning of one menstrual period to the beginning of the next.

    A drug used to relieve pain and anxiety (Demerol®).

    Metastatic Breast Cancer
    Also referred to as invasive or infiltrating, it is breast cancer that has spread to other sites in the body.

    Cancer that travels from one part of the body to another. Cancer cells metastasize and form secondary growths. The cells in the metastatic tumor will be the same type as the primary tumor. That is why breast cancer that has metastasized to the bone or liver is still breast cancer. If you are questioning the spelling -- the plural is metastases.

    Metastasize (meh-TAS-ta-size)
    To spread from one part of the body to another. When cancer cells metastasize and form secondary tumors, the cells in the metastatic tumor are like those in the original (primary) tumor. Thirty to forty percent of treated primary breast cancers will return in another spot. Most often the spread is to the liver, lungs and bone.

    Tiny deposits of calcium in the breast that cannot be felt but can be detected on a mammogram. A cluster of these very small specks of calcium may indicate that cancer is present.

    Modified Radical Mastectomy
    Surgical procedure which removes the breast, the lymph nodes under the arm, and the lining over the chest muscles (but leaves the muscles).
    Also see in Resources -> Breast Cancer Surgery.

    Molecular Biology
    A relatively new field of scientific investigation where the basic structure and metabolism of the cancer cell is being studied.

    Monoclonal Antibody
    An antibody produced by making multiple copies of a single cell in a laboratory. Usually drawn to cancer cells specifically, they are used to target treatments. An example is the HER-2/neu monoclonal antibody. Trastuzumab (Herceptin) deactivates Her-2/neu at the genetic level and does not produce the toxic side effects of chemotherapy.

    MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
    A computerized diagnostic process, using radio waves and powerful magnets to provide three dimensional images of the body. It is higher definition than a CT Scan and considered safer, because it does not use radiation or contrast dyes.

    See stomatitis.

    MUGA scan
    Multiple-gated acquisition (MUGA) scan is a a non-invasive test that uses a radioactive isotope called technetium to evaluate the functioning of the heart's ventricles.

    Changes in genes caused by an inherited defect (such as BRCA) or exposure to environmental toxins. Genes control the way cells function or develop and if they malfunction or are missing it may lead to cancer.





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