Breast CancerBreast Cancer A to Z
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Breast Cancer Glossary




CA 15-3
A tumor marker that can be monitored in the majority of patients with metastatic breast cancer, indicating the progression, regression or stability of the disease. Like all the tumor markers, it can be assessed from a blood sample.

CA 27-29
A tumor marker similar to CA 15-3 above, used to monitor disease progression in metastatic breast cancer. Also known as the Truquant test.

CA 125
A tumor marker used to monitor ovarian cancer, highly predictive of recurrence for most ovarian cancer patients.
Also see in Resources -> Breast Cancer Diagnosis.

A so-called "wasting syndrome" that often accompanies the very advanced stages of cancer. This general lack of nutrition is characterized by weight loss, emaciation, weakness and fatigue, and loss of appetite.

Small calcium deposits that are visible in a mammogram. Usually not indicative of cancer, but when found in certain clusters may indicate a possibility of the existence of breast cancer.

A term for any of more than 100 different diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and can migrate through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.
Also see -> Breast Cancer 101.

Cancer Cell
A cell that divides and reproduces abnormally, with uncontrolled growth, and that may spread to other parts of the body.

Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs.

Any substance or agent that can cause cancer.

Cardiac dysfunction
A disease or disorder of the heart muscle

Cardiac ejection fraction
The amount of blood released in the heart with each heartbeat; this may be used to measure damage of the heart muscle.

A chronic disorder of the heart muscle, which can result in heart failure, embolism, enlargement or arrhythmias. This condition may be a side effect of some drugs used in chemotherapy.

Case Management
A process which assesses, plans, implements and monitors services required to meet an individual's health needs by using and creating resources to promote quality outcomes. The management team normally consists of all the professionals involved in the physical and emotion care of the patient.

Cathepsin D
A protein secreted by breast cancer cells, thought to indicate a poorer prognosis.

A tube passed through the body for evacuating fluids or injecting them into body cavities. It may be made of elastic, elastic web, rubber, glass, metal, or plastic. (See Indwelling Catheter)

CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen)
A monoclonal tumor marker sometimes used to monitor breast cancer patients for recurrences. It may indicate other cancers and certain inflammatory conditions and is not considered specific enough to be the sole indicator.

A microscopic structure that is the basic unit of all living organisms.

Cerebrospinal fluid
Fluid which surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Process by which chemotherapy drugs are delivered by infusion directly to the area of the tumor, sometimes used in treating liver metastases.

Chemoresistance or Chemoinsensitivity
Cancer cells develop immunity to chemotherapy drugs, and are said to be chemoresistant or chemoinsensitive.

Chemosensitivity Testing
Experimental in-vitro (in the laboratory) testing of tumor tissue to show its response to various cancer drugs. This test allows the physician to prescribe a drug that will work with a specific cancer, avoiding chemotherapy treatments that will be ineffective. Although it is extremely promising, many physicians feel this testing process is not yet accurate enough for general use.

Drugs or chemicals that enhance chemotherapy's effects.

Treatment with anticancer drugs or chemicals that are destructive to cells and tissues.
Also see in Resources -> Chemotherapy.

A DNA molecule containing genes arranged end-to-end in a double helix structure.

A long term or constant condition.

Clinical Breast Exam (CBE)
A screening exam performed by a qualified medical professional.

Clinical Trial
A research study conducted to test a new drug or treatment. Each study is designed to test a new method of screening, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a disease. The clinical trial should identify any negative side effects associated with the method being tested. Also see in Resources -> Breast Cancer Clinical Trials.

Colony-Stimulating Factors (CSF)
These are substances that stimulate the production of blood cells. Colony-stimulating factors include granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (also called G-CSF and filgrastim), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factors (also called GM-CSF and sargramostim), and promegapoietin.

Combination Chemotherapy
Using more than one kind of chemotherapy drug is often more effective than a single agent, because each drug acts in a different way on the cancer reproductive process. This makes it less likely that cells resistant to treatment will survive, or that cells that do survive will be able to repair damage caused to them by the chemo.

Comparison Films
By comparing present mammography films to past films, the surgeon is able to see changes over time in the breast tissue.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)
A blood test that gives results of white and red cell counts, platelets, hemoglobin and other factors rather than testing for a single factor..

Consolidation Strategies
These plans attempt to make sure that cancer cells at previous tumor sites are not able to recur by means of ongoing treatment.

Continuous Infusion
A drug or drugs that are administered continuously, for example, some kinds of chemotherapy or pain medications, can be taken through an infusion pump worn by patients 24 hours a day.

Core biopsy
Using a large bore needle and a syringe to remove tissue or fluid from a lump or a cyst for microscopic analysis.
Also see in Resources -> Breast Cancer Diagnosis.

A non-surgical procedure for shrinkinging benign tumors. A
probe is inserted into the center of the tumor. Using small amounts of argon gas, the tumor is killed by literally freezing it to death.

CT Scan (also called CAT Scan)
Computerized axial tomography, a diagnostic test, is a computerized multiple x-ray technique that shows cross sections or a complete three dimensional view of the entire body. Much more detailed than x-rays, this procedure can produce images of minutely detailed structures anywhere in the body for analysis. It usually does not require injection of a radioactive or dye contrast medium.

A class of chemotherapy drugs that promotes cancer cell death.

A round, smooth, fluid filled sac or capsule that is abnormal but usually noncancerous. A breast cyst often changes size with the menstrual cycle and caffeine consumption.

The study of cells.

A substance that causes cells to die; literally toxic to cells. In breast cancer research this refers to drugs that cause the cancer cells to die.





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