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adjuvant therapy: The use of anticancer drugs and/or radiation in conjunction with surgery as treatment to prevent the spread or recurrence of cancer.

alopecia: Loss of hair commonly caused by some drugs used in chemotherapy.

analgesic: An agent that relieves pain without causing loss of consciousness.

androgen: Male sex hormones that produce male characteristics.

antioncogene: Tumor-suppressor genes that act as “brakes” for undesirable cell growth. They are important in about 50 percent of breast cancers.

areola: A circular area of a different-colored pigment surrounding the nipple of the breast.

aspiration: The withdrawal of fluid from a mass by means of inserting a needle.

autoimmune disorder: Disorders directed against the body’s own tissue.

axilla: The space between the upper lateral part of the chest and medial side of the arm, including the armpit and a large number of lymph nodes.

axillary dissection: The removal and subsequent microscopic examination of the underarm lymph nodes.

benign breast condition: Non cancerous hanges in the breast that can cause pain, lumpiness, or other problems. Also called fibrocystic condition.

benign tumors: Not cancerous — a growth that does not spread to the rest of the body.

bilateral surgery: Removal of both breasts.

biofeedback: The act of voluntarily controlling the body functions (such as heart rate) that are not normally under conscious control.

biological response modifiers: Protein molecules, such as interferon and interleulcin-2 used in treating cancer.

biopsy: The removal of tissue for diagnostic purposes. Usually removed by suction through a needle.

bone marrow rescue or transplant: A process in which cancer-free bone marrow is taken from the patient to be infused intravenously into the patient at a later time.

breast self examination (BSE): A method for women to check their own breasts for changes in appearance or feel.

calcifications: Small deposits of calcium salts in the breast tissue that can be seen by a mammogram.

cancer: A general name for over 100 diseases in which abnormal cells grow out of control

capsular contracture: Shrinking of fibrous membrane.

carcinogen: A cancer-causing agent.

carcinogenesis: A multistep process that begins with a series of specific changes, or mutations, in the DNA of a single cell.

carcinoma: A tumor that appears in the breast and other organs the most common category of cancer.

CAT scan (computerized axial tomography): A method of examining the body in cross-sectional slices.

chemotherapy: The treatment of a disease by chemical agents.

chromosome: A structure in the nucleus of a cell that contains the linear thread of DNA, which transmits genetic information.

clinical: Refers to actual observation and treatment of patients, as in a clinic or at the bedside.

clinical trials: Research studies that involve patients.

comedocarcinomas: Cancer that grows into a duct, causing the duct to become enlarged. It is less likely to spread beyond the breast than other cancers.

CAT scan: a three –dimensional x — ray.

cyst: A sac that contains a liquid or semi-solid material.

cytoplasm: A gel-like fluid containing chemical substances that are required for the cell’s metabolism.

cytotoxic: Pertaining to antibodies or drugs used in chemotherapy that kill cells.

displacement: The act of transferring an emotion to an inappropriate object or person, such as displacing one’s anger toward a person by kicking the dog.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid: A set of proteins in the nucleus of a cell, having the shape of a double helix or spiral, which directs the cell to make an exact copy of itself. It also directs the synthesis of the proteins that carry out the functions of living organisms.

dysplasia: Alteration in size, shape, and organization of adult cells.

ego strength: One’s overall capacity for adapting to life changes and stresses and the ability to cope with and master challenging situations.

empathy: The ability to detect, understand, and share another person’s feelings. It differs from sympathy, which is a similarity of feelings or compassion or pity.

enzymes: Proteins that speed up and control the rate of chemical reactions that take place in living things.

epidemiology: The field of medicine concerned with specific causes of outbreaks of diseases.

estrogen: The female’s sex hormones produced by the ovaries, adrenal glands, placenta, and fat. Used to give relief in cancer of the breast after menopause or in treatment of osteoporosis.

estrogen receptor test: A test to determine a tumor’s sensitivity to hormones. If a test is negative, hormone treatments will be of no avail.

excision: Removal, as of an organ or tumor, by cutting off or out.

fibroadenoma: Benign fibrous tumor of the breast that usually forms in early years of menstruation.

fibrocystic disease or condition: Breast irregularities or lumps which are not cancerous. Sometimes known as benign breast disease.

gynecologist: A physician who specializes in treating diseases of the female reproductive system.

holism: An approach to treatment that includes treating the whole person, not just the affected area.

homeopathy: A method of therapy believed to stimulate the immune system by using small doses of drugs to produce symptoms in healthy people that are similar to those of a disease being treated.

hormone: A chemical substance produced by the glands in the body that affects other tissues.

hormone therapy: The use of drugs to block or halt the production of hormones.

immunotherapy: A treatment aimed at strengthening the body’s immune system. Interferon, which is manufactured by cells to inhibit viruses, is a major component of this treatment.

implant: Material inserted or grafted into the body.

in situ: Refers to non-invasive tumors that have not grown into neighboring tissue.

interferon: A protein molecule, referred to as a biological modifier, that enables cells to resist infection by a virus.

interleukin-2: A protein molecule that triggers killer cells to attack cancer cells, seen as foreign bodies.

invasive ductal cancer: Cancers that are hard to the touch and spread rapidly to the lymph nodes. About 70 percent of breast cancers are of this type.

iridium implant: Radioactive iridium needles for internal radiation are implanted to eliminate residual cancer cells.

laetrile: A product of the bitter almond plant, also found in the soft kernel of peaches, cherries, and other sources, that is believed to be helpful in treating cancer. Its effectiveness is very controversial and its use is illegal in the United States.

lesions: Also referred to as neoplasms and dysplasia, these are a precancerous condition of abnormal cell development in which cells are altered in shape, size, and organization.

leukemia: A type of cancer that occurs in bone marrow.

leukocytes: The cells that produce white blood cells and leukemias.

lobes: Group of glands in the breast that produce milk

lobular and ductal carcinomas in situ: These appear as small areas of calcification on a mammogram. It is difficult to predict which ones will become invasive.

lumpectomy: The surgical removal of a lump and a small area of tissue that is around it.

lupus erythematosus: A skin condition implying local degeneration. Discoid is a superficial inflammation generally forming lesions over nose and cheeks. Systemic is a generalized disorder of connective tissue.

lymph edema: A swelling of the arm that can follow removal of lymph nodes under the arm.

lymphatic system: The tissues and organs that produce and store cells that fight infection.

lymphoma: A general term applied to any neoplastic disorder of the lymphoid tissue, including Hodgkin’s Disease.

malignant: Cancerous . Unlike benign tumors, malignant tumors can spread. to other parts of the body.

mammogram: An x-ray of the breast.

mammotest (or stereotaxic needle-core biopsy: A procedure that helps in locating lumps and placing the biopsy needle.

mastalgia: Pain that occurs in the mammary glands or breast gland.

mastectomy: The removal or excision of a breast.

medullary carcinoma: Cancer that grows within the duct in capsule form, not as apt to metastasize as other cancers.

metastoses: The plural of metastasis.

metastasis: The dislodging of cancer cells and moving to distant sites to establish subcolonies of cancer cells.

micrometastasis: Microscopic spread of tumor cells, not yet detectable.

modified compression technique: A technique used for screening the breasts of women who have implants.

monoclonal antibodies: Protein produced by the white blood cells to destroy a virus or other intruder that enters the body.

MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging): A method of detection by exposing a patient to a magnetic field that records a picture.

mucinous carcinoma: A form of ductal cancer that may grow quite large without metastasizing.

mutation: A change in form, quality, or some other characteristic in genetic material.

myocutaneous flap: A person’s own tissue and muscle used in reconstruction of the breast.

neoadjuvant chemotherapy: Chemotherapy given before surgical removal of cancer.

neoplasm: Any new or abnormal growth.

oncogene: Small pieces of genetic material capable of infecting animal cells and producing tumors.

oncologist: A physician who studies and treats tumors.

oophorectomy: The removal of an ovary or ovaries.

osteoporosis: A softening of the bones, seen most commonly in the elderly.

palliation: The act of relieving a symptom but not removing the cause.

palpate: To examine or feel by the hand.

palpation: The act of feeling with the hand.

pathologist: An expert in examining tissue and diagnosing disease.

phlebitis: Inflammation of the vein, frequently resulting in formation of a vascular obstruction, causing swelling, stiffness, and pain.

PNI (psychoneuroimmunology): An approach to the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of cancer. It encompasses various techniques for treating cancer as well as alleviating pain and other side effects.

prognosis: The possible or probable outcome of a disease or treatment.

projection: An unconscious process of attributing one’s ideas or impulses to others, especially when the ideas are undesirable.

prosthesis: An artificial substitute for an absent body part, such as a breast prosthesis.

protocol: Research designed to test a hypothesis, often a specific treatment of disease under controlled conditions.

protooncogenes: A family of genes that promote growth; they are normal genes.

pseudolump: Breast tissue that feels like a lump that may appear during pregnancy or lactation; when examined it proves to be normal tissue.

psychotherapist: One who treats a person by use of mental effects such as suggestion, re-education, reassurance, and support.

PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder): A term describing the stress that occurs to a woman who has survived breast cancer but who often encounters stigma, physical and emotional and discriminatory aftereffects.

quadrantectomy: Removal of approximately one-quarter of the breast that contains a lump and surrounding tissue.

radiation therapy: Treatment using high-energy radiation from X-ray machines, linear accelerators, colbalt, radium and other sources.

radioisotope: A chemical element that is radioactive. It has an unstable nucleus that gives it the property of decay by one or more processes. It is important for diagnostic and therapeutic use.

radiologist: A specialist in the use of radiology.

radiotherapy: The use of cobalt or radiant energy in diagnosis and treatment of disease. It involves directing a beam of ionizing radiation in the area of malignant tissue to interfere with cell division.

remission: Disappearance of the signs and symptoms of cancer. Remission can be either temporary or permanent.

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    Last Reviewed: Sep 03, 1999

    University of Cincinnati

    Janet Trigg, RN, MSN, EdD
    Associate Professor, Emeritus

    College of Nursing

    University of Cincinnati

    Janet   Trigg, RN, MSN, EdD