Dictionary of Terms 

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Unless you are a health care professional, many of the terms for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of breast and cervical cancer will be new and unfamiliar. This dictionary of terms will help you better understand the medical terms associated with breast and cervical health.

Terms: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Adjuvant therapy (aj-uh-vuhnt ther-uh-pee):  More treatment to lower the risk that the cancer will come back.

Alopecia (al-uh-pee-shee-uh):  Hair loss.

Anesthesia (an-uh s-thee-zhuh):  A loss of feeling or awareness caused by substances.  This is used to keep patients from feeling pain during surgery.

Antiemetic (an-tee-uh-met-ik):  A drug that keeps you from feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up.

Areola (uh-ree-uh-luh): Dark-colored skin around the nipple.

Aspiration (as-puh-rey-shuhn): To remove fluid through a needle.

Atypical hyperplasia (ey-tip-i-kuhl hahy-per-pley-zhuh):  Not cancer, but the cells do not look normal.

Axilla (ak-sil-uh):  Underarm or armpit.

Axillary dissection (ak-suh-ler-ee dih-sek-shuhn):  Surgery to remove lymph nodes from under the arm.

Benign (bih-nahyn): Not cancer.

Biological therapy (bahy-uh-loj-i-kuhl ther-uh-pee): Treatment to help the immune system fight cancer, infections, and other diseases.

Biopsy (bahy-op-see): To remove tissue to check for cancer.

Bone marrow (bohn mar-oh): The soft, sponge-like tissue in the center of most bones

Bone scan (bohn skan): A picture of all the bones.

Breast implant (brest im-plahnt): A procedure to restore breast shape.

Breast Self-Exam (brest self-igzam): An exam by a woman of her breasts to check for lumps or other changes.

Cancer (kan-ser): A term for diseases where abnormal cells spread and can enter nearby tissues.

Carcinoma (kahr-suh-noh-muh): Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line the organs.

CAT scan (cat skan): Pictures of the inside of the body that are taken from different angles. .

Chemotherapy (kee-moh-ther-uh-pee): Treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells.

Clinical trials (klin-i-kuhl trahy-uhl): A study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people.

Cyst (sist): A sac in the body that may be filled with fluid or other material.

Cytotoxic (sahy-tuh-tok-sin): Cell-killing.

Duct (duhkt): A tube of the body that passes fluid.

Ductal carcinoma in situ (duhk-teyl kahr-suh-noh-muh in si-tu): Also called DCIS, a condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct.

Ductal Papillomas: non-cancerous breast tumor, arising in the breast duct, usually cannot be felt. Commonly found in women forty-five to fifty. Generally appears as either a bloody nipple or clear nipple discharge.

Estrogen (es-truh-juhn): A type of hormone made by the body that can also be made in a lab. 

Fat Necrosis (fat nuh-kroh-sis):   A condition in which fat tissue in the breast or other organs is damaged by injury, surgery, or radiation therapy. The fat tissue in the breast may be replaced by a cyst or by scar tissue, which may feel like a round, firm lump. The skin around the lump may look red, bruised or dimpled.

Fibroadenoma (fayh-broh-ad-n-oh-muh): A solid, breast tumor that is not cancer.

Fibrocystic Breast Condition (fahy-broh-sis-tik brest cheynj-es): Condition that is not cancer and may cause painful cysts or lump in breast.

Flow Cytometry (floh cy-tom-e-tre): A way to count the number of live cells in a sample and details about the cells. 

Gynecologist (gohy-ni-kol-uh-jist): A doctor who focuses in the female organs. organs.

Hair follicle (hair fol-i-kuhl): A spot on the skin where hair grows.

Hormonal therapy (hawr-mohn ther-uh-pee): Treatment that adds, blocks or removes hormones.

Hormones (hawr-mohns): Chemicals made by the body.

Hormone receptor test (hawr-mohn ri-cep-ter test): A test to measure the amount of certain proteins in cancer tissue.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)  (hyoo-muhn pap-uh-loh-muh-vahy-ruhs): A sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can lead to cervical cancer.

Inflammatory breast cancer (in-flam-uh-tawr-ee brest kan-ser):  A type of breast cancer in which the breast looks red and swollen and feels warm.

Invasive cancer (in-vey-siv kan-ser): Cancer that has spread outside the layer of tissue in which it developed and is growing into other healthy tissues.

Lobe (lohb): A portion of an organ, such as the liver, lung, breast, thyroid, or brain.
Lobular carcinoma in situ

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) (lob-yuh-ler kahr-suh-noh-muh in sahy too): A condition where abnormal cells are found in the lobules of the breast. This condition rarely becomes invasive cancer. However, having LCUS in one breast raises the risk of getting breast cancer in either breast.

Lobule (lob-yool): A small lobe or part of a lobe.

Local therapy (loh-kuhl ther-uh-pee): Treatment that affects the cells in and around the tumor.

Lumpectomy (luhm-pek-tuh-mee): Surgery to remove a tumor (lump) in the breast and a small amount of normal tissue around it. It is a type of breast-conserving surgery.

Lymph (limf): The clear fluid that carries the cells that help fight infection and disease.

Lymph nodes (limf nohds): A rounded mass of tissue. Lymph nodes clean out the lymph (lymphatic fluid) and they store white blood cells.

Lymphatic system (lim-fat-ik sis tuhm): The tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells that fight infections and other diseases.

Lymphedema (lim-fi-dee-muh): A condition where extra lymph fluid builds up and causes swelling.

Malignant (muh-lig nuh nt): Cancer that can spread to other parts of the body.

Mammogram (mam-uh-gram): Breast X-ray.

Mastectomy (ma-stek-tuh-mee): Removal of the breast or as much as possible.

Menopause (men-uh-pawz): The time of life when a woman’s body stops making hormones and periods stop.

Menstrual cycle (men stroo-uhl sahy-kuhl): Hormonal changes from the start of a period to the start of the next one.

Metastasis (muh-tas-tuh-sis): The spreading of cancer in the body.

Microcalcifications (mahy-kroh kal-suh-fi-key-shuhns): A small amount of calcium in the breast that you cannot feel, but can be seen on a mammogram.

Oncologist (ong-kol-uh-jeest): A doctor who specializes in treating cancer.

Ovaries (oh-vuh-rees): Female reproductive glands that produce the eggs.

Palpation (pal-pey-shuhn): Exam by pressing on the body to feel the organs or tissues underneath.

Pathologist (puh-thol-uh-jeest): A doctor who uses a microscope to find a disease in cells or tissues.

Progesterone (proh-jes-tuh-rohn): A type of hormone made by the body that plays a role in the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.

Prognosis (prog-noh-sis): The likely outcome or course of a disease.

Prosthesis (pros-thee-sis):  A device, such as an artificial leg, that replaces a part of the body.

Radiation therapy (rey-dee-ey-shuhn ther-uh-pee): The use of high-energy to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

Radiologist (rey-dee-ol-uh-jeest): A doctor who reads x-rays.

 (re-mish-uhn): When signs and symptoms of cancer go down or go away.

Risk factor (risk fak-ter): Something that raises the chance for developing a disease.

Screening (skree-ning): Checking for disease when there are no symptoms.

Stage (steyj): The progress of the cancer and whether it has spread.

Stem cells (stem sels): A cell from which other types of cells develop.

Surgery (sur-juh-ree):  A procedure to remove or repair a part of the body or to find out if disease is present.  An operation.

Systemic therapy (sis-tuh-mat-ik ther-uh-pee): Treatment that travels through the bloodstream and affects cells all over the body.

Tissue: (tish-oo):A group or layer of cells.

Tumor: (too-mer) An abnormal mass of tissue.

X-ray: (eks-rey) A type of radiation used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases.

These definitions and many many others can be found on the National Cancer Institute’s website at www.cancer.gov/dictionary