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Breast Cancer Glossary

Terms used to explain Breast Cancer can sometimes be confusing. To help you fully understand the articles and features related to this very important health topic, we have compiled a glossary of terms that can help.


Pronunciation: \ˈbī-ˌäp-sē\

Function: noun
pl -sies
: the removal and examination of tissue, cells, or fluids from the living body


Pronunciation: \-ˈther-ə-pē\

Function: noun
pl -pies
: the use of chemical agents in the treatment or control of disease or mental disorder


Pronunciation: \-ˈmē-trē-əm\

Function: noun
pl -tria
Pronunciation: \-trē-ə\
: the mucous membrane lining the uterus that is composed of three layers see stratum basale stratum compactum stratum spongiosum


Pronunciation: \ˈes-trə-jən\

Function: noun
: any of various natural steroids (as estradiol) that are formed from androgen precursors, that are secreted chiefly by the ovaries, placenta, adipose tissue, and testes, and that stimulate the development of female secondary sex characteristics and promote the growth and maintenance of the female reproductive system; also: any of various synthetic or semisynthetic steroids (as ethinyl estradiol) that mimic the physiological effect of natural estrogens


Pronunciation: \ˌfī-(ˌ)brō-ˌad-ən-ˈō-mə\

Function: noun
pl -mas
also -ma*ta
Pronunciation: \-mət-ə\
: adenoma with a large amount of fibrous tissue


Pronunciation: \ˌhī-pər-ˈplā-zh(ē-)ə\

Function: noun
: an abnormal or unusual increase in the elements composing a part (as cells composing a tissue) see benign prostatic hyperplasia


Pronunciation: \ˌləm-ˈpek-tə-mē\

Function: noun
pl -mies
: excision of a breast tumor with a limited amount of associated tissue —called also tylectomy, compare quadrantectomy


Function: noun
: edema due to faulty lymphatic drainage


Pronunciation: \mə-ˈlig-nənt\

Function: adjective

1: tending to produce death or deterioration <malignant malaria> ; esp: tending to infiltrate, metastasize, and terminate fatally <malignant tumors> compare benign 1
2: of unfavorable prognosis : not responding favorably to treatment <psychotic reactions with a malignant trend>


Pronunciation: \ma-ˈstek-tə-mē\

Function: noun
pl -mies
: surgical removal of all or part of the breast and sometimes associated lymph nodes and muscles see modified radical mastectomy partial mastectomy radical mastectomy simple mastectomy


Pronunciation: \ˈmen-ə-ˌpoz, ˈmēn-\

Function: noun

1 a (1): the natural cessation of menstruation occurring usu. between the ages of 45 and 55 with a mean in Western cultures of approximately 51
(2): the physiological period in the life of a woman in which such cessation and the accompanying regression of ovarian function occurs —called also climacteric, compare perimenopause
b: cessation of menstruation from other than natural causes (as from surgical removal of the ovaries)
2: see: andropause


Pronunciation: \mə-ˈtas-tə-səs\

Function: noun
pl -ta*ses
Pronunciation: \-ˌsēz\

1 a: change of position, state, or form
b: the spread of a disease-producing agency (as cancer cells or bacteria) from the initial or primary site of disease to another part of the body <metastases of breast cancer to bone Medical Physics> ; also: the process by which such spreading occurs
2: a secondary malignant tumor resulting from metastasis

Needle Biopsy

needle biopsy
Function: noun
: any of several methods (as fine needle aspiration or core biopsy) for obtaining a sample of cells or tissue by inserting a hollow needle through the skin and withdrawing the sample from the tissue or organ to be examined


Pronunciation: \prō-ˈjes-tə-ˌrōn\

Function: noun
: a female steroid sex hormone C21H30O2 that is secreted by the corpus luteum to prepare the endometrium for implantation and later by the placenta during pregnancy to prevent rejection of the developing embryo or fetus; also: a synthetic steroid resembling progesterone in action


Pronunciation: \präg-ˈnō-səs\

Function: noun
pl -no*ses
Pronunciation: \-ˌsēz\

1: the act or art of foretelling the course of a disease
2: the prospect of survival and recovery from a disease as anticipated from the usual course of that disease or indicated by special features of the case <the prognosis is poor because of the accompanying cardiovascular disease P. A. Mead et al>

Radiation Therapy

radiation therapy
Function: noun
: see: radiotherapy

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© 2011 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Inc.

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On the day of your mammogram, it's important that you don't wear deodorant.