Breast Cancer Mini-Dictionary
Fort Wayne, Indiana (June 15, 2009) — You don't need a medical degree to understand what your doctor is saying. But unfamiliar words are often scary. Imagine hearing, “You have Invasive Breast Cancer, Osteo-class-like giant cells, grade ll of lll, your Tumor is 1.7 cm, Diploid, ER, 51% pos PR 79 % pos Her2, No vover expression, Negative lymph nodes” from your doctor. Phew. You look over to your husband, whose eyes are glazed over. Your brain becomes foggy as your doctor keeps going on about diagnosis. To help you stay clear-minded and focused, we turned to the experts to simplify the medical jargon for you.
Adenocarcinoma A type of cancer that starts in glandular tissue (tissue that makes and secretes a substance), such as in the ducts or lobules of the breast.
Carcinoma A malignant tumor that begins in the lining layer of organs such as the breast. Most cancers are carcinomas.
Benign Not cancerous, not malignant.
Biopsy The removal of a sample of tissue or cells to see whether cancer cells are present; used for diagnosis.
Cancer A general name for a group of more than 100 diseases in which abnormal cells grow out of control. Cancer cells can invade and destroy healthy tissues, and they can spread through the bloodstream and the lymphatic system to other parts of the body.
Carcinoma in situ An early first stage of cancer when it is still only in the layer of cells of the organ where it developed.(In breast cancer, in situ means that the cancer cells are only in the ducts or lobules.) The cancer has not yet spread into deeper tissues in the breast or to other organs in the body and is sometimes referred to as non-invasive breast cancer. Most carcinomas in situ are highly curable.
Invasive (infiltrating) carcinoma Cancer that has already spread beyond the layer of cells where it first developed. Most breast cancers are invasive carcinomas—either invasive ductal carcinoma or invasive lobular carcinoma.
Lumpectomy Surgery to remove the cancerous breast lump and a small amount of normal surrounding tissue; usually followed by radiation therapy.
Lymphatic system The tissues and organs that produce, store and transport cells that fight infection and disease. It is an important part of the body’s immune system.
Malignancy State of being cancerous. Malignant tumors can often invade surrounding tissues and spread to other parts of the body.
Sarcoma Sarcomas are cancers that start from connective tissues such as muscle tissue, fat tissue or blood vessels. Sarcomas of the breast are rare.