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Glossary

Benign
Noncancerous; with no cancer cells present.

Biopsy
Removal and analysis of cells under a microscope to determine if they are cancerous. Biopsy is the only accurate way to diagnose cancer. A biopsy can be done through a needle with large core needle technique or fine needle aspiration. A surgical biopsy involves making an incision and removing breast tissue.

Calcifications
Calcium deposits appear on a mammogram as tiny white dots, lines or coarse white flecks. These may occur as the breast tissue changes with age. The radiologist will interpret the significance of the calcifications by their appearance and pattern.

Cancer
A general term for more than 100 diseases characterized by the rapid and uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. The resulting tumor can destroy surrounding healthy tissue. Cells from the tumor can spread through the blood and lymph nodes to start new cancers in other parts of the body.

Cyst
A fluid filled lump, usually harmless, associated with fibrocystic condition. The fluid can usually be drained by aspiration.

Cyst Aspiration
Removal of fluid using a fine needle.

DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ)
A collection of abnormal cells which are found only in the lining of the milk duct of the breast. These abnormal cells have not spread outside of the duct. This early noninvasive form of cancer is usually curable.

Fibroadenoma
A solid, noncancerous (benign) lump that usually feels firm, rubbery and may move around. It is constant in shape and size during the menstrual cycle. These lumps may occur in multiples.

Fine Needle Biopsy
Removal of cells using a fine needle. This procedure is used to remove cells from a solid lump for later examination under a microscope.

Inflammatory Cancer
A rare but serious form of breast cancer. This disease is characterized by skin changes such as ridges or a pitted appearance. Also, the breast may appear red and feel warm.

Inframammary Ridge
A normally prominent ridge at the bottom of the breast

Initial Mammogram
A woman’s first mammogram (previously called a baseline) is recommended at the age of 40. Subsequent screening mammograms are compared with the initial mammogram to detect changes over time.

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
The most common type of breast cancer. If this tumor is large, it may feel like a hard lump and may be non-moveable. If small, the lump is usually moveable.

Large Core Needle Biopsy
(Also called Minimally Invasive)
A procedure done by a radiologist or surgeon. This technique removes small slivers of tissue from a specific area in the breast. These tissue samples are then evaluated by a pathologist. No stitches are required.

LCIS (Lobular Carcinoma In Situ)
The name is misleading, as this is not a cancer. Rather, these are abnormal cells found in the lobules of the breast. Overall, both breasts are at increased risk for developing cancer.

Lumpectomy
The simplest type of breast surgery, a lumpectomy is performed on certain small cancers that have not spread to other areas. A lumpectomy for the treatment of invasive cancer also includes a sampling of the axillary lymph nodes to check for the possible spread of cancer. This surgery is usually followed by radiation therapy. A lumpectomy without lymph node sampling is usually done for the treatment of noninvasive cancer (DCIS).

Lymph Nodes
These bean-shaped structures act as filters, collecting bacteria or cancer cells that travel through the lymph system. If lymph nodes contain cancer cells, this is an indication that the cancer has spread beyond the breast.

Malignant
Cancerous; a growth of cancer cells.

Mammogram
An X-ray of the breast that can detect cancers too small to be felt by breast self-examination.

Mastectomy
A general term meaning surgery to remove the breast. See modified, partial and radical mastectomy.

Mastitis
An inflammation of the breast that is found most often in women who are breast-feeding. This condition is characterized by redness and swelling.

Metastasis
Spread of cancer from one part of the body to another through the lymphatic system or the blood stream.

Modified Radical Mastectomy
Surgery to remove the cancerous tissue and the entire breast. The chest muscles are left intact. This may or may not be combined with axillary lymph node dissection.

Needle (Wire) Localization
An X-ray or ultrasound procedure to place a needle to determine the precise location of a breast abnormality. This aids the surgeon in the removal of the abnormality.

Partial Mastectomy
Surgery that removes only part of the breast, leaving the surrounding healthy tissue in place.

Prosthesis
There are two types of prostheses:
1) A permanent surgical implant, usually a plastic sac filled with fluid, that is placed through a surgical incision in the skin.
2) A removable prosthesis which can be worn outside the body in a bra cup.

Push-Back Mammogram
Additional positioning views used in women who have implants. This is necessary to adequately image the breast tissue on the (X-ray) mammogram.

Radical Mastectomy
Not common today, this surgery removes the entire breast, nipple, overlying skin, chest muscles and lymph nodes.

Screening Mammogram
Periodic testing using mammography to detect breast conditions that cannot be felt manually.

Sentinel Lymph Node
The first lymph node to which cancer cells may spread after leaving the primary tumor.

Stereotatic Localization
An X-ray guidance system using two views to pinpoint an abnormal area. A computer calculates the location of the lesion for needle (wire) localization or biopsy.

Tramflap
A muscle flap for breast reconstruction. Abdominal tissue is relocated from the abdomen to the chest to create a breast mound.

Ultrasound (Ultrasonography)
A diagnostic test that uses sound waves to make an image of the breast to determine if a breast lump is solid or filled with fluid (cyst). This test is often used to visualize a mass that can be felt by the patient or doctor, but may or may not be seen on mammogram.

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