Breast CancerBreast Cancer A to Z
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Breast Cancer Glossary




Dense Tissue
The breast is composed of fat and fibroglandular tissue. Fibroglandular tissue is the denser of the two. Tumors and normal tissue are easier to distinguish in mammographic images taken through fat tissue. Also see -> Breast Anatomy.

Diagnostic Evaluation
The evaluation of all tests to clarify abnormal results.

The degree to which a cancer cell resembles a normal cell. Poorly differentiated cancer cells are  usually more aggressive and harder to treat.

An antihistamine drug, that helps against allergic reactions, particularly those that cause breathing difficulties (Benadryl®).

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid)
Amino acid based part of every body cell that carries our genetic information. Also see -> Genetics & Breast Cancer.

Dose-Response Ratio
The concept that treatment effectiveness increases with higher doses of chemotherapy drugs.

Doubling Time
The time it takes cancer cells to reproduce themselves, and tumors to double in size. The range of doubling time for breast cancer cells is from 23 to 209 days.

Drug Resistance
When cancer cells are insensitive to cancer drugs, either initially or as a result of prior treatment, they are said to be resistant. "Cross resistance" occurs when cancers develop resistance to a drug after exposure to a related drug.

A structure in the breast through which milk passes from the glands to the nipple.

Ductal Ectasia
A benign change where the ducts become dilated and retain secretions. This often leads to nipple discharge and can result in a lump in the nipple area or nipple retraction, but is not usually related to a cancerous condition.

Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)
Abnormal cells confined to the breast ducts. These areas often shows micro-calcification on a mammogram. This condition may also be called intraductal carcinoma.

Ductal Lavage

Ductal lavage is a minimally invasive method of collecting cells inside the milk ducts. The cells are analyzed to determine whether they are normal or abnormal (also known as "atypical"). The presence of atypical cells is a known indicator of increased breast cancer risk. Ductal lavage is used with women who already have some general breast cancer risk factors, and are looking for additional information about their risk level to aid in decision-making about risk reduction options such as closer surveillance, drug therapy and preventative mastectomy. Also see in features -> Ductal Lavage Fact Sheet.

Shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing. This is a common side effect of some cancer drugs.





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