Glossary Of Breast-Related Medical Terms

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Glossary Of Breast-Related Medical Terms

Women's Health
Glossary Of Breast-Related Medical Terms
Glossary Of Breast-Related Medical Terms
Medical glossary of terms related to breast surgery.
National Cancer Institute

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Adjuvent therapy Additional cancer treatment given after the primary treatment to lower the risk that the cancer will come back. Adjuvant therapy may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy or biological therapy.
Aromatase inhibitors 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.
Biopsy 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. There are many different types of biopsy procedures. The most common types include: (1) incisional biopsy, in which only a sample of tissue is removed; (2) excisional biopsy, in which an entire lump or suspicious area is removed; and (3) needle biopsy, in which a sample of tissue or fluid is removed with a needle. When a wide needle is used, the procedure is called a core biopsy. When a thin needle is used, the procedure is called a fine-needle aspiration biopsy.
Breast implant A silicone gel-filled or saline-filled sac placed under the chest muscle to restore breast shape.
Breast reconstruction Surgery to rebuild the shape of the breast after a mastectomy.
Breast-conserving surgery An operation to remove the breast cancer but not the breast itself. Types of breast-conserving surgery include lumpectomy (removal of the lump), quadrantectomy (removal of one quarter, or quadrant, of the breast), and segmental mastectomy (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). Also called breast-sparing surgery.
Calcification/calcium deposits 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. Microcalcifications are specks of calcium that may be found in an area of rapidly dividing cells. Many microcalcifications clustered together may be a sign of cancer.
Chest wall The muscles, bones, and joints that make up the area of the body between the neck and the abdomen
Colostrum Thick, yellowish fluid secreted from breast during pregnancy, and the first few days after childbirth before the onset of mature breast milk. Also called "first milk," it provides nutrients and protection against infectious diseases.
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.
Fibrocystic breast changes A common condition marked by benign (not cancer) 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. Also called benign breast disease, fibrocystic breast disease, and mammary dysplasia.
Galactorrhea Milky discharge from the breast even though a woman is not breast feeding. The milk may come from one or both breasts. It may leak with no stimulation or it may leak only when the breasts are touched. Galactorrhea is relatively common in women who have had at least one pregnancy. It may be caused by an underlying disease, particularly when accompanied by other changes in the breast(s).
Hematoma A pool of clotted or partially clotted blood in an organ, tissue, or body space, usually caused by a broken blood vessel.
Implant A substance or object that is put in the body as a prosthesis, or for treatment or diagnosis.
In Situ In its original place. For example, in carcinoma in situ, abnormal cells are found only in the place where they first formed. They have not spread.
Mastalgia Breast tenderness and pain that may come and go with monthly periods (cyclic) or may not follow any pattern (noncyclic). Most cyclic pain goes away without treatment and usually disappears at menopause. Noncyclic pain is most common in women ages 30 to 50. It may occur in only one breast. It is often described as a sharp, burning pain that occurs in one area of a breast. Occasionally, noncyclic pain may be caused by a fibroadenoma or a cyst. If the cause of noncyclic pain can be identified, treating the cause may relieve the pain.
Mastectomy Surgery to remove part or all of the breast. There are different types of mastectomy that differ in the amount of tissue and lymph nodes removed.
Mastitis A condition in which breast tissue is inflamed. It is usually caused by an infection and is most often seen in nursing mothers.
Necrosis Refers to the death of living tissues.
Nipple/breast sensation changes An increase or a decrease in feeling in the nipple or breast. This change can vary in degree and may be temporary or permanent. It may affect comfort while nursing or sexual response.
Periareolar Around the nipple.
Prolactin A hormone that is made by the pituitary gland (a pea-sized organ in the center of the brain). Prolactin causes a woman’s breasts to make milk during and after pregnancy, and has many other effects in the body.
Reconstructive surgery Surgery that is done to reshape or rebuild (reconstruct) a part of the body changed by previous surgery.
Reduction mammoplasty Surgical procedure to reduce breast size.
Rupture/deflation Hole or tear in the shell of the implant that allows for loss of the filler material from the shell.
Segmental mastectomy Surgery to remove the part of the breast that has cancer and some of the normal tissue around it. The lining over the chest muscles below the cancer and some of the lymph nodes under the arm may also be removed. It is a type of breast-conserving surgery. Also called partial mastectomy.
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.
Transaxillary Under the arm.


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Last updated January 07, 2013

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