Breast CancerBreast Cancer A to Z
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Breast Cancer Glossary




Immune System
A multi-faceted, incompletely understood system which functions to protect the body from any foreign invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, toxins and cancers. Also see in Resources -> Breast Cancer, Diet & Nutrition.

Immunohistochemistry (IHC)
A method that uses antibodies to identify, locate, and stain specific protein molecules in tissue sections (using a microscope).

A lowered resistance to disease, often because of chemotherapy treatments.

Experimental treatments that attempt to use the body's own defenses to control the cancer. Also known as immunomodulation.

The number of instances of illness commencing during a given period in a specified population. More generally, the number of new cases of a disease in a defined population, within a specified period of time.

Induction Chemotherapy
This treatment is given prior to highness chemotherapy. The purpose is to assess the patient's response to treatment before administering very high doses, and to decrease the tumor burden, the amount of cancer in the body, prior to high dose chemotherapy, thus giving the best chance for remission.

Indwelling Catheter
A tube which is threaded through a large chest vein to the heart so that blood can be drawn and drugs, including those for chemotherapy and medications for other purposes, can be given without needing to repeatedly find a vein. Indwelling catheters can be either the external type, such as the Hickman catheter, or subcutaneous (under the skin). This latter type is generally called a port.

The inability to produce children.

Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma
The most common form of invasive breast cancer.

Infiltrating Lobular Carcinoma
Less common, this breast cancer originates in the lobules, rather than the ducts of the breast.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)
A less common, very aggressive form of breast cancer. The breast looks inflamed because the cancer blocks the lymph nodes in the breast tissue causing swelling, a red appearance and warmth. The skin may show ridges or may have a pitted, peau d'orange (like the skin of an orange) appearance.
Also see in Resources -> Inflammatory Breast Cancer.

Informed Consent
The legal right of a patient to be informed by medical personnel about a treatment or a procedure before giving consent to undergo it. With experimental treatments and most surgical procedures, this is put into writing.

Administering drugs into a vein or artery slowly, over a period of time, sometimes using a pump. Note: Both infusion and injection can be intra-arterial, into an artery; intra-muscular, into a muscle; intra-peritoneal, into the abdominal cavity; intra-pleural, into the space around the lungs; intra-thecal, into the spinal fluid; or intravenous, into a vein.

Administering drugs into a vein or artery all at once. See the note under infusion.

A breast change where highly atypical or cancerous cells are located only in the ducts or lobules; they have not invaded surrounding breast or lymph tissue.

Within the spinal canal or within a sheath. This can refer to the use of a catheter to administer drugs to patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Invasive or Infiltrating Cancer
The cancer cells have spread from the original site and invaded other tissue in the breast and/or lymph system.

In vitro
Literally, "in glass." Taking place outside the body, in a laboratory.

In vivo
Taking place in the body, or in another living organism.

On the same side. Used in Staging if the ipsilateral lymph nodes are involved it means the lymph nodes on the same side of the body as the affected breast have cancer cells growing. Contralateral means the opposite side of the body. Your left axilla (underarm) is contralateral to your right breast.





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