Deposits of calcium in the tissues. Calcification in the breast can be seen on a mammogram, but cannot be detected by touch. There are two types of breast calcification, macrocalcification and microcalcification:
Macrocalcifications are large deposits and are usually not related to cancer.
Microcalcification: a tiny deposit of calcium in the breast that cannot be felt but can be detected on a mammogram. A cluster of these very small specks of calcium may indicate that cancer is present.
The use of x-rays to create a picture of the breast. x-ray: a type of high-energy radiation. In low doses, x-rays are used to diagnose diseases by making pictures of the inside of the body. In high doses, x-rays are used to treat cancer.
Mammogram: an x-ray of the breast.
Breast density describes the relative amount of different tissues present in the breast. A dense breast has less fat than glandular and connective tissue. Mammogram films of breasts with higher density are harder to read and interpret than those of less dense breasts.
Diagnostic mammogram: X-ray of the breasts used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign or symptom of breast cancer has been found.
Digital mammography: a technique that uses a computer, rather than x-ray film, to record x-ray images of the breast.
Scintimammography: a type of breast imaging test that is used to detect cancer cells in the breasts of some women who have had abnormal mammograms, or who have dense breast tissue. Scintimammography is not used for screening, or in place of a mammogram. In this test, a woman receives an injection of a small amount of a radioactive substance called technetium 99, which is taken up by cancer cells, and a gamma camera is used to take pictures of the breasts. Also called Miraluma test and sestamibi breast imaging.
Screening: Checking for disease when there are no symptoms.
Screening mammogram: X-rays of the breasts taken to check for breast cancer in the absence of signs or symptoms.
A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echo patterns are shown on the screen of an ultrasound machine, forming a picture of body tissues called a sonogram.
Ultrasonogram / Sonogram: a computer picture of areas inside the body created by bouncing high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) off internal tissues or organs.
The removal of cells or tissues for examination by a pathologist. The pathologist may study the tissue under a microscope or perform other tests on the cells or tissue.
When only a sample of tissue is removed, the procedure is called an incisional biopsy.
When an entire lump or suspicious area is removed, the procedure is called an excisional biopsy.
When a sample of tissue or fluid is removed with a needle, the procedure is called a needle biopsy, core biopsy, or fine-needle aspiration.
Biopsy specimen: Tissue removed from the body and examined under a microscope to determine whether disease is present.
Ultrasound-guided biopsy: a biopsy procedure that uses an ultrasound imaging device to find an abnormal area of tissue and guide its removal for examination under a microscope.
Core biopsy: the removal of a tissue sample with a needle for examination under a microscope.
Needle biopsy / Fine-needle aspiration: the removal of tissue or fluid with a needle for examination under a microscope. Stereotactic biopsy: a biopsy procedure that uses a computer and a 3-dimensional scanning device to find a tumor site and guide the removal of tissue for examination under a microscope. (stereotaxis = use of a computer and scanning devices to create 3-dimensional pictures. This method can be used to direct a biopsy, external radiation, or the insertion of radiation implants.)
Mammotome: a device that uses a computer-guided probe to perform breast biopsies. A Mammotome biopsy can be done on an outpatient basis with a local anesthetic, removes only a small amount of healthy tissue, and doesn't require sutures (stitches) because the incision is very small.
Needle-localized biopsy: a procedure that uses very thin needles or guide wires to mark the location of an abnormal area of tissue so it can be surgically removed. An imaging device is used to place the wire in or around the abnormal area. Needle localization is used when the doctor cannot feel the mass of abnormal tissue.
A procedure in which a surgical incision (cut) is made through the skin to expose and remove tissues. The biopsy tissue is examined under a microscope by a pathologist. An open biopsy may be done in the doctor's office or in the hospital and may use local anesthesia or general anesthesia. A lumpectomy to remove a breast tumor is a type of open biopsy.
Lumpectomy: Surgery to remove the tumor and a small amount of normal tissue around it.
Incisional biopsy: a surgical procedure in which a portion of a lump or suspicious area is removed for diagnosis. The tissue is then examined under a microscope.
Excisional biopsy: a surgical procedure in which an entire lump or suspicious area is removed for diagnosis. The tissue is then examined under a microscope.
A pool of clotted or partially clotted blood in an organ, tissue, or body space, usually caused by a broken blood vessel.
Histology: the study of tissues and cells under a microscope.
Pathology / Pathological staging: a method used to determine the stage of cancer. Tissue samples are removed during surgery or a biopsy. The stage is determined based on how the cells in the samples look under a microscope.
Pathologist: a doctor who identifies diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope.
Pathology report: the description of cells and tissues made by a pathologist based on microscopic evidence, and sometimes used to make a diagnosis of a disease.
Benign tumor: a noncancerous growth that does not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body, may grow larger.
Benign breast disease / fibrocystic breast disease / fibrocystic breast changes / mammary dysplasia: a common condition marked by benign (noncancerous) changes in breast tissue. These changes may include irregular lumps or cysts, breast discomfort, sensitive nipples and itching. These symptoms may change throughout the menstrual cycle and usually stop after menopause.
Benign proliferative breast disease: a group of noncancerous conditions that may increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Examples include ductal hyperplasia, lobular hyperplasia, and papillomas.
Fibromatosis: a condition in which multiple fibromas develop. Fibromas are tumors (usually benign) that affect connective tissue.
Cyst: a sac or capsule in the body. It may be filled with fluid or other material.
Cystectomy: Surgery to remove all or part of the bladder.
Cystosarcoma phyllodes / phyllodes tumor: CSP. A type of tumor found in breast tissue. It is often large and bulky and grows quickly. It is usually benign (not cancer), but may be malignant (cancer).
Intraductal papilloma: a benign (noncancerous), wart-like growth in a milk duct of the breast. It is usually found close to the nipple and may cause a clear, sticky, or bloody discharge from the nipple. It may also cause pain and a lump in the breast that can be felt or seen. It usually affects women aged 35-55 years. Having an intraductal papilloma does not increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
Lipoma: a benign (not cancer) tumor made of fat cells.
Lesion: an area of abnormal tissue. A lesion may be benign (noncancercous, nonmalignant) or malignant (cancerous).
Tumor / Neoplasm: an abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Tumors may be benign (not cancerous), or malignant (cancerous). Neoplasia: abnormal and uncontrolled cell growth.
Primary tumor: the original tumor.
Malignancy: a cancerous tumor that can invade and destroy nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.
Precancerous: a term used to describe a condition that may (or is likely to) become cancer. Also called premalignant.
Solid tumor: an abnormal mass of tissue that usually does not contain cysts or liquid areas. Solid tumors may be benign (not cancerous), or malignant (cancerous). Different types of solid tumors are named for the type of cells that form them. Examples of solid tumors are sarcomas, carcinomas, and lymphomas.
Standard of care: in medicine, treatment that experts agree is appropriate, accepted, and widely used. Health care providers are obligated to provide patients with the standard of care. Also called standard therapy or best practice.
Cancer (a term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control) that forms in tissues of the breast, usually the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk). It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.
Breast cancer in situ: early cancer that involves only cells in the tissue in which it began and that has not spread to neighboring tissue. Abnormal cells that are confined to the ducts or lobules in the breast. There are two forms, called ductal carcinoma in situ (see DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (see LCIS).
Comedo carcinoma: a type of ductal carcinoma in situ (very early-stage breast cancer).
Invasive cancer / infiltrating cancer: cancer that has spread beyond the layer of tissue in which it developed and is growing into surrounding, healthy tissues.
Infiltrating ductal carcinoma: the most common type of invasive breast cancer. It starts in the cells that line the milk ducts in the breast, grows outside the ducts, and often spreads to the lymph nodes.
Inflammatory breast cancer: a type of breast cancer in which the breast looks red and swollen and feels warm. The skin of the breast may also show the pitted appearance called peau d'orange (like the skin of an orange = a dimpled condition of the skin of the breast, resembling the skin of an orange, sometimes found in inflammatory breast cancer). The redness and warmth occur because the cancer cells block the lymph vessels in the skin.
Early-stage breast cancer: breast cancer that has not spread beyond the breast or the axillary lymph nodes. This includes ductal carcinoma in situ and stage I, stage IIA, stage IIB, and stage IIIA breast cancers.
Cutaneous breast cancer: cancer that has spread from the breast to the skin.
Multicentric breast cancer: breast cancer in which there is more than one tumor, all of which have formed separately from one another. The tumors are likely to be in different quadrants (sections) of the breast. Multicentric breast cancers are rare.
Paget's disease of the nipple: a form of breast cancer in which the tumor grows from ducts beneath the nipple onto the surface of the nipple. Symptoms commonly include itching and burning and an eczema-like condition around the nipple, sometimes accompanied by oozing or bleeding.
Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is a condition in which abnormal cells are found only in the lobules of the breast. LCIS seldom becomes invasive cancer; however, having lobular carcinoma in situ in one breast increases the risk of developing breast cancer in either breast.
Lobular carcinoma: cancer that begins in the lobules (the glands that make milk) of the breast.
Invasive lobular carcinoma: cancer has spread from the lobules to surrounding tissues.
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) / intraductal carcinoma: a noninvasive condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct. The abnormal cells have not spread outside the duct to other tissues in the breast. In some cases, intraductal carcinoma may become invasive cancer and spread to other tissues, although it is not known at this time how to predict which lesions will become invasive.
Ductal carcinoma: the most common type of breast cancer. It begins in the cells that line the milk ducts in the breast.
The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another. A tumor formed by cells that have spread is called a "metastatic tumor" or a "metastasis". The metastatic tumor contains cells that are like those in the original (primary) tumor. The plural form of metastasis is metastases.
Nonmetastatic: cancer that has not spread from the primary (original) site to other sites in the body.
Metastasize: to spread from one part of the body to another. When cancer cells metastasize and form secondary tumors, the cells in the metastatic tumor are like those in the original (primary) tumor.
Micrometastases: small numbers of cancer cells that have spread from the primary tumor to other parts of the body and are too few to be picked up in a screening or diagnostic test.
Cancer that has returned after a period of time during which the cancer could not be detected. The cancer may come back to the same place as the original (primary) tumor or to another place in the body. Also called recurrent cancer.
The grade of a tumor depends on how abnormal the cancer cells look under a microscope and how quickly the tumor is likely to grow and spread. Grading systems are different for each type of cancer. The objective of a grading system is to provide information about the probable growth rate of the tumor and its tendency to spread. Grading plays a role in treatment decisions.
Low grade: when referring to cancerous and precancerous growths, a term used to describe cells that look nearly normal under a microscope. These cells are less likely to grow and spread quickly than cells in high-grade cancerous or precancerous growths.
High grade: when referring to cancerous and precancerous growths, a term used to describe cells that look abnormal under a microscope. These cells are more likely to grow and spread quickly than cells in low-grade cancerous and precancerous growths.
Staging: performing exams and tests to learn the extent of the cancer within the body. Staging is usually based on the size of the tumor, whether lymph nodes contain cancer, and whether the cancer has spread from the original site to other parts of the body. It is important to know the stage of the disease in order to plan the best treatment.
The tumor is 2 centimeters or smaller and has not spread outside the breast.
Stage II is divided into stage IIA and stage IIB based on tumor size and whether it has spread to the axillary lymph nodes (the lymph nodes under the arm).
In stage IIA, (1) no tumor is found in the breast, but cancer is found in the axillary (under the arm) lymph nodes; or (2) the tumor is 2 centimeters or smaller and has spread to the axillary lymph nodes; or (3) the tumor is larger than 2 centimeters but not larger than 5 centimeters and has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
In stage IIB, (1) the tumor is larger than 2 centimeters but not larger than 5 centimeters and has spread to the axillary (under the arm) lymph nodes; or (2) the tumor is larger than 5 centimeters but has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
Stage III is divided into stages IIIA and IIIB.
In stage IIIA, (1) no tumor is found in the breast, but cancer is found in axillary (under the arm) lymph nodes that are attached to each other or to other structures; or (2) the tumor is 5 centimeters or smaller and has spread to axillary lymph nodes which have grown into each other or into other structures and are attached to them; or (3) the tumor is larger than 5 centimeters and has spread to axillary lymph nodes that may or may not be attached to each other or to other structures.
In stage IIIB, the cancer may be any size, has spread to tissues near the breast (the skin or chest wall, including the ribs and muscles in the chest), and may have spread to lymph nodes within the breast (inside the chest wall along the breast bone) or under the arm.
In stage IIIC, cancer has spread to lymph nodes beneath the collarbone and near the neck; and may have spread to lymph nodes within the breast or under the arm and to tissues near the breast.
Cancer has spread to other organs of the body, most often the bones, lungs, liver or brain.
TNM staging system
A system for describing the extent of cancer in a patient's body. 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 of cancer from one body part to another).
Cell proliferation: an increase in the number of cells as a result of cell growth and cell division. Proliferating means multiplying or increasing in number.
Proliferative index: a measure of the number of cells in a tumor that are dividing (proliferating). May be used with the S-phase fraction to give a more complete understanding of how fast a tumor is growing.
Neoadjuvant therapy: Treatment given before the primary treatment. Examples of neoadjuvant therapy include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy.
Gynecologic oncologist: a doctor who specializes in treating cancers of the female reproductive organs.
An operation to remove the breast cancer but not the breast itself. Types of breast-conserving surgery include lumpectomy (removal of the lump / tumor and a small amount of normal tissue around it), quadrantectomy (removal of one quarter, or quadrant, of the breast containing cancer), and segmental mastectomy / breast-sparing surgery (removal of the cancer as well as some of the breast tissue around the tumor and the lining over the chest muscles below the tumor). Usually some of the lymph nodes under the arm are also taken out.
Wedge resection: a surgical procedure to remove a triangle-shaped slice of tissue. It may be used to remove a tumor and a small amount of normal tissue around it.
Wide local excision: surgery to cut out the cancer and some healthy tissue around it.
Margin: the edge or border of the tissue removed in cancer surgery. The margin is described as negative or clean when the pathologist finds no cancer cells at the edge of the tissue, suggesting that all of the cancer has been removed. The margin is described as positive or involved when the pathologist finds cancer cells at the edge of the tissue, suggesting that all of the cancer has not been removed.
A rounded mass of lymphatic tissue that is surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue. Lymph nodes filter lymph (lymphatic fluid), and they store lymphocytes (white blood cells). They are located along lymphatic vessels.
Sentinel lymph node: the first lymph node to which cancer is likely to spread from the primary tumor. When cancer spreads, the cancer cells may appear first in the sentinel node before spreading to other lymph nodes.
Sentinel lymph node mapping: the use of dyes and radioactive substances to identify the first lymph node to which cancer is likely to spread from the primary tumor. Cancer cells may appear first in the sentinel node before spreading to other lymph nodes and other places in the body.
Sentinel lymph node biopsy: removal and examination of the sentinel node(s) (the first lymph node(s) to which cancer cells are likely to spread from a primary tumor). To identify the sentinel lymph node(s), the surgeon injects a radioactive substance, blue dye, or both near the tumor. The surgeon then uses a scanner to find the sentinel lymph node(s) containing the radioactive substance or looks for the lymph node(s) stained with dye. The surgeon then removes the sentinel node(s) to check for the presence of cancer cells.
Lymph node dissection / Lymphadenectomy: a surgical procedure in which the lymph nodes are removed and examined to see whether they contain cancer. For a regional lymph node dissection, some of the lymph nodes in the tumor area are removed; for a radical lymph node dissection, most or all of the lymph nodes in the tumor area are removed.
Regional lymph node dissection: a surgical procedure to remove some of the lymph nodes that drain lymph from the area around a tumor. The lymph nodes are then examined under a microscope to see if cancer cells have spread to them.
Radical lymph node dissection: a surgical procedure to remove most or all of the lymph nodes that drain lymph from the area around a tumor. The lymph nodes are then examined under a microscope to see if cancer cells have spread to them.
Negative axillary lymph node: a lymph node in the armpit that is free of cancer.
Lymphedema: a condition in which excess fluid collects in tissue and causes swelling. It may occur in the arm or leg after lymph vessels or lymph nodes in the underarm or groin are removed or treated with radiation.
In medicine, the removal or destruction of a body part or tissue or its function. Ablation may be performed by surgery, hormones, drugs, radiofrequency, heat, or other methods.
Mastectomy: surgery to remove the breast (or as much of the breast tissue as possible).
Modified radical mastectomy: surgery for breast cancer in which the breast, most or all of the lymph nodes under the arm, and the lining over the chest muscles are removed. Sometimes the surgeon also removes part of the chest wall muscles.
Radical mastectomy / Halsted radical mastectomy: surgery for breast cancer in which the breast, chest muscles, and all of the lymph nodes under the arm are removed. For many years, this was the breast cancer operation used most often, but it is used rarely now. Doctors consider radical mastectomy only when the tumor has spread to the chest muscles.
Surgery to rebuild the shape of the breast after a mastectomy.
DIEP flap: a type of breast reconstruction in which blood vessels called deep inferior epigastric perforators (DIEP), and the skin and fat connected to them are removed from the lower abdomen and used for reconstruction. Muscle is left in place.
Tissue flap reconstruction: a type of breast reconstruction in which a flap of tissue is surgically moved from another area of the body to the chest, and formed into a new breast mound.
Breast implant: a silicone gel-filled or saline-filled sac placed under the chest muscle to restore breast shape.
Silicone: a synthetic gel that is used as an outer coating on breast implants and as the inside filling of some implants.
See also (German text with pictures before, during and after the surgery of the implants):
reconstruction with silicone gel-filled implants, micropolyurethane-foam surfaced (MPS)
Tumor marker: a substance sometimes found in the blood, other body fluids or tissues. A high level of tumor marker may mean that a certain type of cancer is in the body. Examples of tumor markers include CA 125 (ovarian cancer), CA 15-3 (breast cancer), CEA (ovarian, lung, breast, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract cancers), and PSA (prostate cancer). Also called biomarker.
Tumor board review: a treatment planning approach in which a number of doctors who are experts in different specialties (disciplines) review and discuss the medical condition and treatment options of a patient. In cancer treatment, a tumor board review may include that of a medical oncologist (who provides cancer treatment with drugs), a surgical oncologist (who provides cancer treatment with surgery), and a radiation oncologist (who provides cancer treatment with radiation). Also called a multidisciplinary opinion.
Oncologist: a doctor who specializes in treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment. For example, a radiation oncologist specializes in treating cancer with radiation.
Chemoembolization: a procedure in which the blood supply to the tumor is blocked surgically or mechanically and anticancer drugs are administered directly into the tumor. This permits a higher concentration of drug to be in contact with the tumor for a longer period of time.
Chemoimmunotherapy: Chemotherapy combined with immunotherapy. Chemotherapy uses different drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells; immunotherapy uses treatments to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight cancer.
Chemoprevention: the use of drugs, vitamins, or other agents to try to reduce the risk of or delay the development or recurrence of cancer.
Chemoradiation / chemoradiotherapy: treatment that combines chemotherapy with radiation therapy. Also called .
Chemosensitivity: the susceptibility of tumor cells to the cell-killing effects of anticancer drugs.
Chemosensitivity assay: a laboratory test that measures the number of tumor cells that are killed by a cancer drug. The test is done after the tumor cells are removed from the body. A chemosensitivity assay may help in choosing the best drug or drugs for the cancer being treated.
Chemosensitizer: a drug that makes tumor cells more sensitive to the effects of chemotherapy.
Dose-dense Chemotherapy: a chemotherapy treatment plan in which drugs are given with less time between treatments than in a standard chemotherapy treatment plan.
The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy, implant radiation, or brachytherapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance, such as a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody, that circulates throughout the body.
Irradiation is also called radiation therapy, radiotherapy, and x-ray therapy.
Irradiated: treated with radiation.
Radiology: The use of radiation (such as x-rays) or other imaging technologies (such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging) to diagnose or treat disease.
Radiologist:A doctor who specializes in creating and interpreting pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are produced with x-rays, sound waves, or other types of energy.
Radiation physicist: A person who makes sure that the radiation machine delivers the right amount of radiation to the correct site in the body. The physicist works with the radiation oncologist to choose the treatment schedule and dose that has the best chance of killing the most cancer cells.
Radiation oncologist: a doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer.
Radiation dermatitis: a skin condition that is a common side effect of radiation therapy. The affected skin becomes painful, red, itchy and blistered.
Fractionation: dividing the total dose of radiation therapy into several smaller, equal doses delivered over a period of several days.
Treatment with drugs, surgery or radiation in order to block the production or action of a hormone. Antihormone therapy may be used in cancer treatment because certain hormones are able to stimulate the growth of some types of tumors.
Receptor: a molecule inside or on the surface of a cell that binds to a specific substance and causes a specific physiologic effect in the cell.
Hormone receptor: a protein on the surface of a cell that binds to a specific hormone. The hormone causes many changes to take place in the cell.
Hormone receptor test: a test to measure the amount of certain proteins, called hormone receptors, in cancer tissue. Hormones can attach to these proteins. A high level of hormone receptors may mean that hormones help the cancer grow.
Estrogen: a type of hormone made by the body that helps develop and maintain female sex characteristics and the growth of long bones. Estrogens can also be made in the laboratory. They may be used as a type of birth control and to treat symptoms of menopause, menstrual disorders, osteoporosis and other disorders.
Estrogen receptor test / Progesterone receptor test: a lab test to find out if cancer cells have estrogen / progesterone receptors (proteins to which estrogen / progesterone will bind). If the cells have estrogen / progesterone receptors, they may need estrogen / progesterone to grow, and this may affect how the cancer is treated.
Estrogen receptor ER / Progesterone receptor PR: a protein found inside the cells of the female reproductive tissue, some other types of tissue, and some cancer cells. The hormones estrogen / progesteron will bind to the receptors inside the cells and may cause the cells to grow.
ER+ Estrogen receptor positive / PR+ Progesterone receptor positive: describes cells that have a protein to which the hormone estrogen / progesterone will bind. Cancer cells that are ER+ / PR+ need estrogen / progesterone to grow, and may stop growing when treated with hormones that block estrogen / progesterone from binding.
ER- Estrogen receptor negative / PR- /Progesterone receptor negative: describes cells that do not have a protein to which the hormone estrogen / progesterone will bind. Cancer cells that are ER- / PR- do not need estrogen / progesterone to grow, and usually do not stop growing when treated with hormones that block estrogen / progesterone from binding.
Tamoxifen: a drug used to treat breast cancer and to prevent it in women who are at a high risk of developing breast cancer. Tamoxifen blocks the effects of the hormone estrogen in the breast. It belongs to the family of drugs called antiestrogens.
Aromatase inhibitor: a drug that prevents the formation of estradiol, a female hormone, by interfering with an aromatase enzyme. Aromatase inhibitors are used as a type of hormone therapy for postmenopausal women who have hormone-dependent breast cancer.
The gene that controls cell growth by making the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2.
The gene that makes the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. The protein produced is HER2/neu, which is involved in the growth of some cancer cells.
Herceptin / Trastuzumab: a type of monoclonal antibody used to detect or treat some types of cancer. Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-produced substances that can locate and bind to cancer cells. Herceptin / Trastuzumab blocks the effects of the growth factor protein HER2, which transmits growth signals to breast cancer cells.
CT scan: computed tomography scan. A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body taken from different angles; the pictures are created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. Also called computerized tomography and computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging MRI: a procedure in which radio waves and a powerful magnet linked to a computer are used to create detailed pictures of areas inside the body. These pictures can show the difference between normal and diseased tissue. MRI makes better images of organs and soft tissue than other scanning techniques, such as CT or x-ray. MRI is especially useful for imaging the brain, spine, the soft tissue of joints and the inside of bones. Also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI)
Nuclear medicine scan: a method of diagnostic imaging that uses very small amounts of radioactive material. The patient is injected with a liquid that contains the radioactive substance, which collects in the part of the body to be imaged. Sophisticated instruments detect the radioactive substance in the body and process that information into an image.
PET scan: Positron emission tomography scan. A procedure in which a small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein, and a scanner is used to make detailed, computerized pictures of areas inside the body where the glucose is used. Because cancer cells often use more glucose than normal cells, the pictures can be used to find cancer cells in the body.
Palliative care: care given to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease. The goal of palliative care is to prevent or treat as early as possible the symptoms of the disease, side effects caused by treatment of the disease, and psychological, social, and spiritual problems related to the disease or its treatment. Also called comfort care, supportive care and symptom management.
Palliative therapy: treatment given to relieve the symptoms and reduce the suffering caused by cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Palliative cancer therapies are given together with other cancer treatments, from the time of diagnosis, through treatment, survivorship, recurrent or advanced disease and at the end of life.