Acini: The terminal divisions of a gland that combine to form a lobule.
Adenocarcinomas: Malignant tumours occurring in glandular tissue.
Adipose tissue: Tissue consisting of fat cells.
Adjuvant chemotherapy: Therapy that is given literally to ‘help’ another type of therapy. It usually refers to radio- or chemotherapy given after surgery. Adjuvant analgesics are also used in pain control.
Aetiology: the pathology behind the disease.
Alkylating agents: Chemotherapeutic drugs that bind to DNA during cell division, killing the cell.
Alopecia: Loss of hair.
Anaplasia: A change in cell character by loss of differentiation and reversion to a more primitive form.
Anorexia: Loss of appetite.
Anticipatory vomiting: Feeling nauseous and vomiting in anticipation of treatment.
Antidepressants: Drugs that alleviate the symptoms of depression; some antidepressants also have pain-relieving properties.
Antiemetic: A drug used to control nausea and vomiting (emesis is another term for vomiting).
Apoptosis: Programmed cell death.
Areola: The pigmented area surrounding the nipple.
Aspiration: The drawing of fluid or tissue by suction.
Asymptomatic: Displaying no symptoms.
Atypical hyperplasia: An uncharacteristic pattern of increased growth.
Autosomal dominant: Describes a genetic condition in which the defective gene is dominant and is inherited by 50% of the offspring of either sex.
Axilla: The region between the arm and the thoracic wall.
Axillary dissection: Removal of cancerous or potentially cancerous tissue. Often lymph tissue, from the axilla.
Benign: Not cancerous; does not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body.
Bilateralism: Involving both sides; in this case, meaning both breasts.
Biopsies: Removal of cells or tissues for histological examination.
Brachial plexus: A collection of nerves locate in the neck and axilla.
Brachytherapy: A technique of implanting sealed radioactive sources int or close by a tumour to localise the delivery of radiation.
BRCA1: A susceptibility gene for breast cancer.
BRCA2: A susceptibility gene for breast cancer.
Calcification: The depositing of calcareous matter within tissues.
Cancer: Disease in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably. May invade nearby tissues and spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body (metastasis).
Carcinogenesis: The evolution of an invasive cancer cell from a normal cell.
Carcinomas: Cancers originating in the skin or the lining of organs.
Cellular differentiation: A description of how well or poorly organised cells are within a tissue.
Chemotherapy: The use of chemical agents to control disease.
Combination chemotherapy: The use of two or more chemotherapeutic agents together in treatment.
Comedo: Where lactiferous ducts fill with cells that resemble sebaceous secretions and can be expressed by squeezing.
Comedo necrossi: Where cancer cells invade the lumen of the lactiferous ducts, then die and necrose.
Complex carbohydrates: Carbohydrate molecules made up of two (disaccharide) or more (polysaccharide) simple sugars linked together.
Connective tissue: Tissue that supports the specialised elements of the parenchyma.
Contralateral: The opposite side; in this case, the opposing breast.
Cooper’s ligaments: A group of arching fibres holding the breast to the chest.
Cysts: Abnormal accumulations of fluid and other substances in follicles before ovulation, or in the corpus luteum artery ovulation.
Debulking procedures: The surgical removal of as much tumour tissue as possible in order to improve symptoms and increase the effectiveness of further therapy.
Differentiation: A well-differentiated cell is highly specialised, structurally highly organised and clearly recognisable. A poorly differentiated cell is structurally poorly organised and difficult to recognise. Malignant cells are poorly differentiated because they have lost the control mechanisms that maintain cellular integrity.
Disease-free interval: The period between successful disease treatment in the first instance and recurrence of the disease.
Drill biopsy: A procedure in which a hollow drill is used to sample a core of tissue for analysis.
Ductal carcinomas: Cancers in the ductal tissue of the breast.
Ductal carcinoma in situ: A specific type of ductal breast cancer.
Eczematoid: Resembling an inflammation of the skin, normally demonstrating a combination of vesicular, papular and exudative lesions.
Epidermal growth factor: A growth factor that is important in the development of the foetus and in wound repair in adults.
Epithelium: The external skin of an organ or body.
Erythema: A redness of the skin.
Excision biopsy: The cutting away of a tissue sample for later analysis.
Fascia: The fibrous tissue between structures in the body, such as muscles.
Fibro adenomas: Benign tumours containing both fibrous and glandular elements. Fibroadenosis: The condition patients suffer from when they have a fibro-adenoma.
Fibrocystic disease: Cystic disease of the breast in which women develop cysts in their breast tissue that tend to be a focus for inflammation and infection.
Fibrosis: Thickening and scarring of connective tissue.
Fine needle aspiration: Collection of a fluid or tissue sample by insertion of a fine gauge needle into the tissue and applying suction.
Follicle stimulating hormone: A gonadotrophic hormone produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates ripening of eggs in the ovary.
Germ line mutations: Mutations in the inherited genetic code in the cells of the body.
Haematogenous spread: The spread of disease by blood-borne metastases.
HER-2: Human epidermal growth factor receptor gene.
Heterogeneous: Being composed of a mixture of different things.
Histological grade: (of a tumour) a description of how differentiated a tumour cell is.
Histological grading: Applying a grade to tumour cells.
Hormone replacement therapy: The use of female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) for the relief of symptoms resulting from ovarian function.
Hormonal therapy: Anti-cancer therapy that interferes with the influence of sex hormones on tumour cells.
Human epidermal growth factor receptor: A membrane receptor for the human epidermal growth factor.
Hyperplasia: Increased growth.
Infraclavicular nodes: Lymph nodes just below the level of the clavicle.
Infra-mammary crease: The crease in the skin below the breast where it meets the chest.
Invasive cancer: A cancer that has broken through a basement membrane and is invading surrounding tissue.
Lactation: The formation or secretion of milk.
Lactiferous ducts: Mammary ductules that connect to the nipple.
Lesions: Areas of tissue with impaired function as a result of disease or injury.
Luteinising hormone: A gonadotropin made by the pituitary gland that stimulates the release of oestrogen from the ovaries, causing ovulation and corpus luteum formation.
Juteinising hormone-releasing hormone: A hormone secreted by the hypothalamus that acts on the pituitary to produce LH. Also known as gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH).
Lymph nodes: Small organs located throughout the body along the channels of the lymphatic system. The lymph nodes store special cells that fight infection and other diseases. Clusters of lymph nodes are found in the armpits, groin, neck, chest and abdomen. Also called lymph glands.
Lymphadenopathy: Lymph node enlargement in response to disease.
Lymphatic’s: A system of tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells that fight infection and other diseases. This system includes the bone marrow, spleen, thymus and lymph nodes and a network of thin tubes that carry lymph and white blood cells. These tubes branch, like blood vessels, into all the tissues of the body.
Lymphoedema: Oedema due to obstruction of the lymph.
Malignant: The term that describes a tumour that invades and destroys the tissue in which it originates and which is capable of spreading locally or metastasising.
Mammary gland: A gland that secretes milk.
Mammary lobules: Lobular structures of the mammary gland.
Mammography: A radiographic means of examining the tissues of the breast
Mastectomy: Amputation of the breast.
Menarche: The time at which menstruation first begins.
Menopause: The cessation of production of an egg every 4 weeks by the ovaries. The menopause happens naturally in women aged 45–55 years and can be induced prematurely by surgical removal of the ovaries.
Menstrual cycle: The periodic, 4-weekly sequence of events in sexually mature women which prepares the body for reproduction by producing an egg and growing the endometrial lining of the uterus for implantation. In the absence of fertilisation, the lining and unfertilised egg are shed and the next cycle begins.
Metastases: Tumours formed by the process of metastasis.
Metastasis: Spread of cancer from one part of the body to another. Cells in the metastatic (secondary) tumour are the same type as those in the original (primary) tumour. Tumours formed in this way are called metastases.
Metastatic spread: The spread of cancer cells from one part of the body to another causing secondary tumours.
Mutations: Changes in the DNA of cells.
Myelosuppression: Inhibition of the process of production of blood cells and platelets in the bone marrow.
Neoadjuvant therapy: Therapy (chemo- or .radiotherapy) that is given to a tumour before surgery. Its purpose is to reduce tumour size to aid the surgical procedure and also to kill any cancer cells that might be shed during the operation.
Neoplasm: New growth of tissue or cells; tumour that is generally malignant.
Nipple inversion: Where the nipple is inverted and points into rather than away from the breast.
Non-cornedo: Ductal carcinoma where cells do not fill the lumen and cannot be expressed by squeezing.
Oedema: A swelling of soft tissue as a result of excess fluid accumulation.
Oestrogen: One of the female steroid hormones secreted by the ovaries and in small amounts by the placenta and adrenal glands. Oestrogen controls female sexual development, promoting the growth and function of the female reproductive organs.
Oncogenes: Genes that cause unregulated cell growth and proliferation. Oncogenes are present in viruses and in mammalian cells they are produced by a mutation. Before mutation they are called proto-oncogenes. These are constituents of the normal cell that code for growth factors.
p53: An important tumour suppressor gene that prevents replication of damaged DNA by normal cells and promotes their apoptosis.
Paget’s disease: A rare form of breast cancer characterised by eczematoid changes to the nipple.
Palliative: (treatment) aimed at the relief of pain and symptoms of disease but not intended to cure the disease.
Papillary: Belonging to the nipples.
Parity: The number of times a woman becomes pregnant and gives birth to a live infant.
Peau d’orange: A term that describes pathological changes to the skin in certain breast cancers that give it a texture and look of orange peel.
Phyto-oestrogens: Chemicals with oestrogenic activity produced in the gastrointestinal tract by the metabolism of complex polysaccharides.
Progesterone: One of the steroid hormones secreted by the corpus luteum, placenta and in small amounts by the adrenal glands. It is responsible for preparing the endometrium for pregnancy.
Progestins: Synthetic or naturally occurring compounds with progesterone-like activity.
Prognosis: Predicted-or likely outcome of a disease.
Proliferation: Rapid and increased production of new cells.
Protein kinases: Enzymes that catalyse the transfer of a phosphate group or high energy molecular group to an acceptor molecule.
Quadrantectomy: A partial mastectomy in which a tumour is excised in one quadrant of the breast.
Radiotherapy: Radiation therapy using high-energy radiation from X-rays, neutrons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumours.
Recurrent cancer: Cancer that has returned, at the same site as the original (primary) tumour or in another location, after it had disappeared.
Resection: The surgical removal of any part of the body.
Retro areola: Area behind the areola.
Sebaceous glands: Normal glands in the skin that empty oily secretions onto the skin surface.
Solid lesions: Dense areas of tissue with impaired function due to disease.
Stage: Extent of cancer within the body, including whether the disease has spread from the original site to other parts of the body.
Staging: Defining the stage which a tumour is at, to determine the extent of the cancer and to help decisions as to the most appropriate treatment.
Supraclavicular nodes: Lymph nodes located just above the clavicle.
Susceptibility genes: Genes that encode for an inherited condition or acquired disposition that are expressed on exposure of the right environmental trigger.
Systemic: (Therapy/treatment) that enters the bloodstream, reaching and affecting cells all over the body.
Tumorigenesis: The process of initiating and promoting the development of a tumour.
Tumour, Node, Metastases: The system for classifying the stage of a tumour.
Tumour suppressor gene: A gene that normally codes for agents that suppress cell growth. Loss of tumour suppressor genes can cause cancer.
Tumours: Abnormal masses of tissue resulting from excessive cell division. Tumours may be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
X-ray: High-energy radiation used in low doses to diagnose diseases and in high doses to treat cancer.