Breast CancerBreast Cancer A to Z
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Breast Cancer Glossary




T cell
A type of white blood cell. It attacks virus-infected cells, foreign cells, and cancer cells. T cells produce substances that help to regulate the body's immune system.

Tag-72 antigen
A protein/sugar complex found on the surface of breast cancer cells.

An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called "mitotic inhibitors". It slows down or stops cancerous tumors by preventing mitosis - a stage in cell division. If the cancer cells cannot reproduce, they can't form tumors.

Tamoxifen (Nolvadex)
Cancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called antiestrogens. Tamoxifen blocks the effects of estrogen. Cancerous cells may be estrogen-dependent. Nolvadex binds to the estrogen receptors (ER) on the tumor cells depriving them of their supply of the hormone. It is used to prevent or delay the return of breast cancer or to control its spread. Tamoxifen is used in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

Anticancer drugs that inhibit cancer cell growth by stopping cells from reproducing. They may also be referred to as antimitotic or antimicrotubule agents or mitotic inhibitors.

Cancer drug from the Pacific Yew tree.

Leading to death. When used in a cancer diagnosis, it indicates a very limited life expectancy. Also see in Resources -> Facing a Loss.

A test used to measure and display heat patterns of tissues near the surface of the breast. Since abnormal tissue is generally warmer than healthy tissue, it may be possible to diagnose breast cancer using this tool. At this time the technique is being studied and its value in detecting breast cancer is not proven.

Time To Progression
The amount of time after a disease has been diagnosed or a treatment given until the disease starts to get worse. This is commonly used in discussing advanced breast cancer. A chemotherapy drug will often cause the tumors to stop growing or get smaller only for a certain time frame and then the cancer begins to progress. Doctors will monitor the cancer during the treatments. If it stops responding to the drug the treatment plan can be revised.

Tin Sn 117m DTPA
A radioactive chemical being studied to treat bone pain associated with cancer.

A group of cells that together perform specific functions such as muscle, fat or fibrous connective tissue.

Tissue Flap Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction technique in which a flap of tissue is surgically moved from another area of the body to the chest. The tissue is then formed into a new breast mound.

TNM staging system
A system used to describe the severity of breast cancer at diagnosis. T describes the size of the tumor and whether it has invaded nearby tissue, N describes any lymph nodes that are involved, and M describes metastasis (spread to another part of the body). Earlier diagnosis usually means a smaller tumor with less spread and a better chance for remission.

Topical Chemotherapy
Treatment with anticancer drugs in a lotion or cream that is applied directly to the skin. Miltex is an example of this.

Topoisomerase Inhibitors
A type of chemo therapy that acts by interfering with the topoisomerase enzymes. These enzymes are involved in cell growth and replication. Blocking the action of these enzymes may kill cancer cells or stop their growth.

Toremifene (Fareston)
An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called antiestrogens. Toremifene blocks the effect of the hormone estrogen in the body. It may help control some cancers from growing, and it may delay or reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.

Total Estrogen Blockade
Therapy used to completely eliminate estrogen in the body. This may be accomplished by treatments using chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or a combination of these procedures.

Total Mastectomy
Removal of the breast tissue but not the muscle underlying the breast. Also called simple mastectomy.
Also see in Resources -> Breast Cancer Surgery.

A term applied to harmful substances. These poisons may be produced by certain animals, plants, or bacteria. Environmental toxins are pollutants releases into the atmosphere. This form of toxins may be produced by natural processes or may be man made. Dioxins are an example of toxins that may increase cancer risk. There are many others. Detoxification is a natural remedy for removing toxins from your system.

The change that a normal cell goes through as it becomes malignant.

The transfer of blood or blood products. Transfusions may be made with donor blood or with blood that the patient has stored for this purpose.

Treatment Status
With a diagnosis of cancer, the treatment status is reported to clarify the exact status of the patient's treatment to all members of the health care team.

Trastuzumab (Herceptin)
A type of monoclonal antibody used in cancer detection or therapy. Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-produced substances that can locate and bind to cancer cells. Trastuzumab blocks the effects of the growth factor protein HER2, which transmits growth signals to breast cancer cells.

An abnormal mass of tissue. This usually results from mutation within the cell causing it to multiply too quickly. A tumor may be benign which means it is not cancerous, or malignant which is cancerous.

Tumor Block
A section of tissue biopsy preserved in wax for future study.

Tumor Marker
A substance in blood or other body fluids that may suggest that a person has cancer. Also see in Resources -> Diagnostic Tools.

Tumor Necrosis Factor
A type of biological response modifier. These substances can improve the body's natural response to disease. Scientists are still learning how this substance causes cancer cells to die.

Tumor-Suppressor Gene
Genes in the body that can suppress or block the development of cancer.



High frequency sound waves forming a pattern of echoes that are electronically translated into a visual image. Can help distinguish between solid masses and cysts.
Also see in Resources -> Diagnostic Tools.

A study in which sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off tissues and the echoes are converted into a picture (sonogram).



Small living organisms that can infect cells and change how the cells function. A cold or flu symptoms are caused by viruses. Some researchers believe that a special type of viral infections may the root cause of cancer.

Term used to describe the internal organs of the abdominal cavity.

Small living organisms that can infect cells and change how the cells function. A cold or flu symptoms are caused by viruses. Some researchers believe that a special type of viral infections may the root cause of cancer.

Necessary to maintain life. Breathing is a vital function while your pulse and your heart rate are vital signs.


White Blood Cells
Cells that help the body fight infection and disease.



Short length high-energy radiation used in low doses to diagnose diseases and in high doses to treat  metastatic breast cancer to control and stabilize bone metastases.

An x-ray of soft tissue.

A type of mammography in which a picture of the breast is recorded on paper rather than on film.






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