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 Glossary of Medical Terms Used on Komen Boards
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Glossary of Medical Terms Used on Komen Boards - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 12:01 PM
Note: This glossary has been prepared by members of the Komen Community Message Board and has not been reviewed by medical professionals. It is presented as a quick guide to common terminology used on the Board. For a complete dictionary of medical terms, please go to:  
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Aromatase Inhibitors. Hormone therapy drugs given to women with ER+ cancer. AIs lower the amount of estrogen in post-meopausal women. Three AIs are currently in use: Arimidex, Aromasin, and Femera.

Abbreviation for one form of chemo: Adriomycin and Cytoxin

Used when A/C round is followed by another round using Taxol or Taxotere.

Benign, no cancer.

Bilateral mastectomy: removal of both breasts, with or without chest muscles.

Genetic mutations that predispose the carrier to breast or ovarian cancer. A simple blood test can be performed to determine if an individual carries the mutation.  A carrier has a 50/50 chance of passing the mutation on to his/her children.
Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy: Laproscopic removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes on both sides.

Bone Scan

A scan used to see if cancer has spread to bones.

Brain Scan
A scan to see if cancer has spread to brain

Breast MRI
A scan to determine extent of cancer growth

Chest/Abdomen CT
A scan to see if cancer has spread to lungs or other organs

Ductal Carcinoma in Situ. Abnormal cells confined to the ducts only. DCIS is considered to be Stage 0 breast cancer with a high risk of evolving into IDC. Therefore, standard treatment is to remove the DCIS through a lumpectomy, if possible, or a mastectomy if the DCIS is wide-spread. Chemotherapy is used only if some of the DCIS has advanced to an invasive tumor.

Bone scan used to determine bone density for women who are taking.

Dose-dense. Refers to the administration of a chemo round with a wait period in between. Used most frequently to distinguish Taxol/Toxetere given every 2-3 weeks, from Taxol/Taxotere given weekly.

Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator, a breast reconstruction procedure.

A procedure that uses tissue (but not muscle) from the lower abdominal wall to form breast(s).


Estrogen receptor on cancer cells.  Hormone receptors are like ears or antennae on a cell. Estrogen sends signals through the receptors that tell breast cancer cells to grow. Cells with estrogen receptors (ER+) grow and multiply when estrogen attaches to the receptors.

Breast cancer with estrogen receptors.

When reconstruction is delayed, used to gradually stretch the skin to create a large enough pocket for an implant.

Addition of saline to an expander. Gradually stretches the skin.

Gluteal Flap
A procedure that uses tissue from the top of the buttock (S-flap) or from the crease where the thigh and buttock meet (I-flap) to form breast(s).
HER2 Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor. This gene is part of a family of genes that play roles in regulating cell growth tumor.

Cancer positive for the HER2 gene.

Surgery to remove uterus.


Inflammatory Breast Cancer. A very aggressive form of breast cancer that invades the tissues and blood vessels and blocks the lymph vessels in the skin of the breast.

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. The most common type of breast cancer. It begins in the milk ducts and invades nearby breast tissue.

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma. Breast cancer that grows in the lobules of the breast and has invaded other tissues nearby. The breast is composed of up to 20 sections called lobes.

A gluteal flap that uses tissue from the crease where the thigh and buttock meet

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma
Breast cancer that grows in the lobules of the breast and has invaded other tissues nearby. The breast is composed of up to 20 sections called lobes.

A procedure that places a polybag filled with either saline or silicone under the chest muscle to form breast(s).


Lobular Carcinoma in Situ: cancer confined to the lobules only.

Laparoscopic vaginal hysterectomy. Removal of the uterus (LVH) by way of the vagina as opposed to through the abdomen.

LAT Flap
Latissimus dorsi flap.
A procedure using the lateral muscle along the back, beneath the shoulder blade, to form breast(s).

A procedure that removes the breast tumor (the "lump") and some of the normal tissue that surrounds it.  Sometimes, that is the only surgery that is needed.

Swelling in an affected limb or body part due to the removal and/or interruption of lymph nodes.  Lymph node removal includes removal of the sentinel node.  Once node removal has been done, you must avoid blood draws and blood pressure being taken on the affected arm.  It also is important to avoid injury to that arm.  Any injury, puncture, rash, sunburn, etc. causes the body to react by sending ‘repair crews’ to the area by way of the blood vessels.  They way the body gets rid of the debris is through the lymph system. Lymph fluid moves the dead and almost-dead bacteria, cell debris and fluid it contains to places such as the spleen, liver, and kidneys to get rid of it. When that is interrupted, the lymph fluid backs up, causing swelling and fluid to pool. While it pools, it is a good medium for the bacteria to resurge and grow, causing infection, cellulitis.

A noninvasive scan for assessing heart function. It is sometimes used to monitor changes in the heart function of people taking cancer drugs that can affect the heart.

A prodecure in which all breast tissue is removed.

Modified Radical Mastectomy

Modified Radical Mastectomy
A mastectomy which takes all breast tissue and related lymph nodes.

No evidence of disease.

Needle Aspiration Biopsy
Takes cell tissue through a needle and sends it for biopsy.

Needle Guided-Biopsy
A CT scan is used to guide the needle to the tumor site in order to obtain the tissue for biopsy.

Nipple-Sparing Simple Mastectomy 
A procedure that removes just the breast tissue, but spares the nipple for a more natural-looking reconstruction. Not used for DCIS or IDC.

Oncotype DX
A diagnostic test that examines estrogen-postive, lymph-node negative breast cancer tissue at a molecular level to obtain information about the cancer. This information can help tailor treatment and determine risk of recurrence.

Surgery to remove ovaries. If done laproscopically, it is referred to as BSO.
Progesterone receptor on cancer cells.

Breast cancer with progesterone receptors. Cancer cells with progesterone receptors grow and multiply when progesterone attaches to the receptors.

PET Scan

Scan that can detect potential areas of cancer by identifying rapidly dividing cells. Usually used post-treatment to identify areas to watch. Some doctors use a PET Scan as part of diagnosis. Other doctors use this as an annual follow-up tool. Many doctors only use it when the patient has a complaint (persistent pain for example.

Partial Mastectomy

A procedure that removes more tissue than a lumpectomy does, but   less than all the breast tissue—may or may not include nipple.

Punch Biopsy
Takes a section of skin in addition to the tissue for biopsy.

Radical Mastectomy

A procedure takes removes breast tissue and muscle down to the chest wall in order to get clear margins. This is used when cancer cells have invaded the chest wall.

Side effect(s)

Sentinel Node Biopsy.

A gluteal flap using tissue from the top of the buttocks.

Sentinel Node Biopsy
Biopsy of the lymph node closest to the site of the cancer. Often, this procedure can be used instead of a complete axillary dissection of the lymph nodes.

Sentinal Node Location by Dye
To identify the sentinel lymph node(s), the surgeon injects a radioactive substance, blue dye, or both near the tumor. The area is massaged to promote absorption and travel of dye to the first nodes near the mass site.  The sentinel node can then be identified by the dye content and removed.

Total abdominal hysterectomy

Triple-negative breast cancer

Transverse rectus abdominis muscle. A procedure that uses tissue and muscle from the lower abdominal wall to form breast(s).
Tissue/Skin-Sparing Simple Mastectomy

A procedure that removes just the breast tissue, but spares the skin for a more natural-looking reconstruction and to make the need for an expander less likely.

Triple Negative

A fast-growing type of breast cancer that has no receptors for ER, PR or the HER2 gene.  Once conventional chemo and/or radiation is completed, there are no other drugs to be given to prevent/reduce the possibility of recurrence. However, TNBC responds extremely well to chemotherapy.

Triple Positive
The tumor has receptors for all three indicators: estrogen, progesterone, and Her2.  This type of cancer is aggressive, but can be further treated with Herceptin (and soon another Herceptin-like drug) and Aromatase Inhibitors or Tamoxifen.
<message edited by DJW on Monday, June 01, 2009 10:20 PM>
Deborah, Albuquerque, 59, 5 year survivor!!

-Diagnosis: IDC & DCIS, Stage IIb, Grade 3, Triple Negative (3/19/08)
-No family history, BRCA 1&2 neg (Jun 08)
-A/C (4 DD Apr - Jun 08), Taxol (4 Wkly Jul-Aug 08), Taxol (2 DD Oct 08)
-Modified radical mastectomy with immediate saline implant (8/19/08), 3/12 nodes positive 
-NED!!! (Nov 08)

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