A Chinese form of medicine, which involves the treatment of disorders by inserting needles into the skin at points where the flow of energy is thought to be blocked, to restore balance and energy.
Treatment that is added to increase the effectiveness of primary breast cancer treatment. Usually it refers to hormone therapy, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy conducted after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells and to increase a person’s chances of a cure or at least keeping the disease in check.
The formation of new blood vessels that aid tumor growth. Certain cancer treatments are geared to blocking new blood vessel growth to help prevent tumor growth.
A substance that is often used to refer to vitamins, herbs, and foods that help with protecting cells against the effect of free radicals, which have been linked to breast cancer.
A complementary therapy that allows for self-expression in a safe environment through art and is used to help reduce stress and increase self-esteem.
Substances measured either in tumor cells or blood that are used to guide treatment options. Estrogen and progesterone receptor status and HER-2 status are considered biomarkers. Identifying biomarkers will help in the future to promote precision-guided breast cancer treatment so unnecessary treatment can be avoided.
Inherited breast cancer genes that are passed on from parent to child and place women at a higher risk for developing breast or ovarian cancers compared to women who do not have the gene.
A diagnostic procedure in which a piece of tissue and/or cells is removed to be examined under a microscope by a pathologist. The tissue or cells are analyzed to look for the presence of cancer cells, establish tumor grading, and provide more information for treatment.
Breast cancer margin
The edge of a cancerous sample or lump removed during surgery. The pathologist examines whether the breast cancer tumor has clean margins which indicates that most of the cancer cells have been removed.
A faulty cell that divides out of control and forms a lump or mass called a tumor, which can invade and destroy healthy tissue.
A malignant tumor that starts from epithelial cells in organs. Almost all breast cancers are carcinomas.
Also known as a CT scan. A diagnostic radiological scan in which many x-rays are taken from different angles and then combined by a computer to produce a cross-sectional image of an organ.
Chemo brain is a recently coined term used to describe the effect chemotherapy has on an individual’s ability to process information and to remember. It has been found in men and women who have had high-dose chemotherapy.
A systematic approach to cancer treatment that slows down the normal production of blood cells. Cancer cells go through a process of cell division and reproduction. The goal of chemotherapy is to interfere with cancer cells at various stages of their growth.
Removal of fluid, cells, or tissue with a needle for examination under a microscope, using a thicker needle to remove a cylindrical sample of tissue from a tumor.
Digital mammography is a method of storing an x-ray image of the breast as a computer image, which helps the radiologists to further interpret the findings as it can be combined with the computer-aided detection (CAD) program.
A segment of the genes that contain unique information on hereditary characteristics, such as hair color, eye color, or height as well as susceptibility to certain diseases.
Ducts are passages in the breast that carry milk to the nipple.
Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)
A legal document that can only be prepared by an attorney, it appoints a designated person to be a financial representative, usually paying your bills and managing your overall fiscal affairs when you are unable due to illness or other health care issues.
Estrogen receptor status
A hormone-receptor status that indicates whether a tumor is receptive to estrogen, which fuels its growth. The tumor is estrogen-receptor positive if it feeds on estrogen, negative if it doesn’t.
A method of biopsy in which all or part of a lump is removed by a surgeon for examination.
A type of needle biopsy involving the removal of fluid from a cyst or cells from a tumor. A fine (thin) needle is used to reach the cyst or tumor and, with suction, draw up (aspirate) samples for examination under a microscope.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
A federal law that provides employees with up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for their own serious illness, the birth or adoption of a child, or care of a seriously ill child, spouse, or parents.
Testing which involves analysis of your DNA to see if a person has inherited gene changes or mutations that increase your cancer risk.
Energy work that manipulates energy fields around the body and supports the body’s ability to heal with the goal of increasing a sense of well-being.
Health care proxy
A document that designates another person to act on one’s behalf in regards to health care decisions if an individual is unable to make his or her own decisions because of illness or other health care issues.
HER-2 positive tumors
A tumor containing a gene that produces a type of receptor that helps cells grow. Cancers that have too much of this receptor gene tend to be more aggressive, but respond to treatment with Herceptin.
Treatment with hormones to try to interfere with hormone production or hormone action that promotes cancer growth, or the surgical removal of hormone-producing glands to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. Tamoxiphen is the most common and others include megestrol acetate, aminoglutethimide, androgens, and surgical removal of ovaries.
A complex bodily defense system that recognizes and opposes germs (bacteria or viruses) and other foreign material within the body to fight off disease and maintain health and initiates the immune response to fight them.
Under local anesthetic, a wedge is surgically removed from the lump for examination.
Inflammatory breast cancer
A type of invasive breast cancer that has spread to the lymphatic vessels in the skin covering the breast. The skin feels warm and may appear thickened. About 1 percent of breast cancers are inflammatory.
In-situ breast cancer
A type of precancerous cell that remains in one location and has not spread to other surrounding tissue.
Invasive breast cancer
Cancer cells that have broken through to surrounding nearby tissue or to distant areas of the body.
Writing in a book or journal to express your inner feelings and fears in a safe environment. Journal writing can be a source of healing and strength as you go through cancer treatment.
The lobules are the glands that make the milk that then passes through the ducts.
A tumor in the breast or elsewhere in the body which may be cancerous or not; also referred to as a mass.
Surgery to remove a lump from the breast, along with a small amount of surrounding tissue.
Bean-shaped nodes under the armpit that carry cleansing lymph fluid through the body’s lymphatic system.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
A method of taking pictures of the inside of the body. It differs from x-rays in that it uses a large, powerful magnet to send radio waves through the body, making images appear on a computer screen as well as on film.
A therapeutic technique of touching and moving the soft tissues of the body.
Surgery to remove all or part of the breast and sometimes other tissue. An individual may have a full or radical mastectomy (both breasts), or partial mastectomy (one breast).
An ancient practice of focusing your mind and thoughts on the present moment. The goal of meditation is to be aware of what is happening in the present moment and meditation requires daily practice to benefit from its stress-reducing effects.
A time in a woman’s life when monthly cycles of menstruation stop forever and hormone levels decrease. Menopause occurs naturally but it can be brought on abruptly by chemotherapies that destroy ovarian function.
Spread of cancer cells that have migrated to other body sites.
A doctor with special training in the diagnosis, treatment, and care of cancer patients.
A gene test that analyzes gene expression patterns that have been linked to more aggressive cancers and a higher risk for recurrence.
Surgery that removes less than the whole breast, taking a part of the breast where the cancer is found and some of the healthy tissue that surrounds the breast.
A doctor with special training in diagnostics and interpreting x-rays and other radiological images and tests.
Plastic surgery that is done after a mastectomy to rebuild the breast or breasts.
A gentle method of hands-on healing that taps into one’s energy. Reiki is a Japanese word that means “universal life energy.”
A lab test that shows the percentages of cells that are replicating their DNA. High S-phase division indicates a tumor with cells that are quickly dividing and tend to be more aggressive. A low S-phase is a sign that the tumor is slow growing.
Research that moves findings quickly from “the bench to the bed-side”—from the research lab to patients. It depends on a collaboration of scientists, researchers, and doctors, and is much more aggressive than traditional research.
A tumor that has an estrogen-progesterone negative tumor along with a HER-2 negative tumor and so will not benefit from hormone treatments or trastuzumab therapy.
The histologic grade of the tumor indicates how likely the cancer is to metastasize. (Grade is not to be confused with stage.) The pathologist determines the grade based on visual inspection of the cancer under the microscope.
A sonogram (a method of imaging the breast with sound waves). It is used as a complement to mammography and is commonly used to target areas for biopsy.
Visualization (guided imagery)
A technique to create a positive mental image used during cancer treatment to promote a sense of well-being.
A set of breathing exercises and postures based on a Hindu spiritual discipline that promotes well-being.