Taking Charge: Glossary of Terms
antioxidants: substances in certain foods that fight oxygen-caused damage to body tissues (oxidation)
ascites: accumulation of fluid in the abdomen
atypical hyperplasia: a type of benign breast disease that can increase the risk of developing breast cancer
biopsy: a procedure in which a tissue sample is taken. Types of breast biopsy include fine need aspiration (FNA), core needle, stereotactic, surgical, excisional
benign: not cancerous
BRCA1, BRCA2: genetic mutations associated with the development of inherited breast and ovarian cancers
calcification: mineral deposits within the breast tissue seen on mammograms
CA-125: a blood screening test sometimes used for ovarian cancer
chemotherapy: treatment of cancer with drugs that kill tumor cells
clomiphene citrate: a fertility drug that may be associated with an increased risk for ovarian cancer
computed tomography (CT) scan: an X-ray examination sometimes used to diagnose cancer
cyst: a fluid-filled sac that can occur in the breast, ovary and other parts of the body
dissection: surgically separating out certain tissues
ductal carcinoma: breast cancer that arises in the milk ducts
ductogram: an X-ray examination of the milk duct
dysgerminoma: an ovarian cancer that starts in germ cells (the cells that produce eggs)
epithelial ovarian carcinoma: the most common type of ovarian cancer, which arises from the cells covering the ovary
estrogen: one of the major female hormones produced by the ovaries and elsewhere in the body
fibrocystic changes: formation of fluid-filled sacs (cysts) and scarring in the connective tissue that supports the breast
genetic tests: tests that examine DNA in blood or other tissue to find genetic abnormalities
germ cell tumor: see dysgerminoma grade: a measure of how abnormal cancer cells look under a microsope
granulosa cell tumor: a type of ovarian cancer originating in estrogen-producing cells
hormone replacement therapy: taking supplemental estrogen and progesterone to replace the body's natural hormones after menopause
hysterectomy: surgical removal of the uterus
in situ: cancer that is confined to its place of origin and has not spread
infiltrating: cancer that has invaded nearby tissues
inflammatory breast cancer: a rare, fast-growing breast cancer
invasive cancer: cancer that has spread to surrounding tissue and/or other parts of the body
immature teratoma: a type of ovarian tumor that most often affects younger women
irradiation: X-ray treatment
laparoscopy: examination of the abdomen by inserting a miniature telescope-like instrument through a small incision
laparotomy: a surgical incision in the abdomen
lobular carcinoma: breast cancer that starts in the lobular cells of the milk ducts
lumpectomy: breast cancer surgery that removes the tumor and a margin of surrounding tissue
lymphadenectomy: removal of lymph nodes
lymphedema: swelling of the lymph nodes
lymph nodes: small glands that filter a type of fluid (lymph) in the body
lymphatics: the small vessels that carry lymph
mammogram (screening or diagnostic): X-ray examination of the breast
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): an imaging study that uses magnetic fields to show body tissue
mastectomy:surgical removal of the breast. Types of mastectomy include partial, total, modified radical and radical
medullary carcinoma: a rare type of breast cancer with little fibrous tissue in the tumor
menopause: cessation of the menstrual cycle
metastasize: to spread. Metastases refer to cancerous growths that have spread from the point of origin.
mortality rate: the number of deaths from a specific disease per 100,000 women
mucinous carcinoma: a rare type of breast cancer in which cells secrete sticky (mucinous) material
mutation: alteration of a normal gene
noninvasive cancer: a very early cancer that has not spread beyond the type of tissue in which it started
oophorectomy (unilateral and bilateral): removal of one or both ovaries
oncogene: a cancer-causing gene, such as HER2
oncologist (gynecologic): a doctor trained in treating cancers of the female reproductive tract
ovulation: the process of releasing a mature egg from the ovary
Paget's disease of the nipple: a rare breast cancer that spreads from the breast ducts to the nipple area
palpate: to feel with the hands
phyllodes tumor: a rare breast tumor that forms in the connective tissue of the breast (stroma)
progesterone: a female hormone
prognosis: expected outcome
proliferative breast disease without atypia: increased growth of normal-appearing breast cells
prosthesis: a breast form
radiation therapy: treatment that uses X-rays to kill cancer cells
receptor positive, receptor negative: terms used to describe whether or not a breast tumor has receptors for female hormones
salpingectomy (unilateral and bilateral): removal of one or both fallopian tubes
Sertoli-Leydig cell tumor: a type of ovarian tumor originating from hormone-producing cells
staging: finding out how much cancer is present and whether it has spread to other parts of the body
stroma: connective tissue
stromal tumor: an ovarian cancer that starts in the connective tissue of the ovary, where some female hormones are produced
survival rate: the percentage of patients who survive an illness over a specified period of time
transvaginal sonography: an ultrasound examination performed through the vagina used to diagnose ovarian cancer
tubal ligation: tying off the fallopian tubes to prevent pregnancy
tubular carcinoma: a form of ductal breast cancer in which cells are well differentiated and the fibrous tissue (stroma) is invaded by small tubules
ultrasound (sonography): an imaging study that uses high-energy sound waves to show body tissues
undifferentiated: not differentiated, primitive, immature
wire localization: use of a thin wire to help the surgeon biopsy the correct area of the breast
Drugs Used in Cancer Treatment
AC: a combination chemotherapy including doxorubicin (Adriamycin) and cyclophosphamid
CMF: a combination chemotherapy including cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil
CAF: a combination chemotherapy including cyclophosphamide, doxorubicine (Adriamycin) and fluorouracil
Cysplatin: a medication used to treat ovarian cancer
Paclitaxel (Taxol): a medication originally obtained from the bark of the yew tree, used to treat ovarian cancer
Raloxifene: a medication that mimics the action of estrogen in some tissues and blocks its effect in others
Tamoxifen: an anti-estrogen drug used to treat and prevent breast cancer
Return to the Taking Charge Index
- What Is Breast Cancer?
- Who Gets Breast Cancer?
- If You Are at High Risk for Breast Cancer
- Screening for Breast Cancer
- How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?
- How Is Breast Cancer Treated?
- What Is Ovarian Cancer?
- Who Gets Ovarian Cancer?
- If You Are at High Risk for Ovarian Cancer
- Screening for Ovarian Cancer
- How Is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed?
- How is Ovarian Cancer Treated?
- Living With Cancer
- Diet, Lifestyle and Cancer
- Glossary of Terms
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.
Basic Facts About Breast Health
Learn basic facts about breast structure and function and how to differentiate between the different types and stages of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Click now to find a summary of the factors that increase risk for developing breast cancer, including both factors that we cannot change and those we can.
Self-Care and Recovery
Self-Care and recovery resources including an Introduction to Lifestyle Change, Nutrition and Breast Cancer, Hydration: Water and Health, Meditation and more.
Breast reconstruction, surgery to rebuild a breast's shape, is often an option after mastectomy and is covered by some health insurance plans. Learn more now.
Follow-Up Care for Breast Cancer Patients
After patients have completed treatment for early stage breast cancer, one of the common questions is, "How should I best be monitored?" Learn more here.
Mastectomy: Instructions Before Surgery
The following information will help you prepare for your upcoming Mastectomy surgery. If you have any questions, please contact the Breast Care Center staff.
Mastectomy: Instructions After Surgery
Post Mastectomy surgery instructions including, pain management, incision and dressing care, activity, diet, follow-up care and more.
Menopause and Breast Cancer
Breast cancer treatment often causes women to enter menopause prematurely. Although each woman reacts to therapy individually, certain side effects are common.
Metastatic Breast Cancer: Diagnosis and Treatment
Metastatic breast cancer is cancer that originated in the breast and has spread to other organ systems in the body. Learn more here.
Navigating Your Path to Breast Care
Different services and information are needed at different points in breast health care and breast cancer treatment. Learn more here.
Osteoporosis and Breast Cancer
Women who have had breast cancer or are considered at high risk for developing breast cancer are at risk for developing osteoporosis. Learn more.
Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer
The UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center and the Department of Radiation Oncology have compiled information about radiation therapy for your convenience.
Breast Care at Greenbrae
1100 S. Eliseo Dr., Suite 1
Greenbrae, CA 94904
Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center
Bakar Precision Cancer Medicine Building
1825 Fourth St., Third Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Gynecologic Surgical Oncology Clinic
Bakar Precision Cancer Medicine Building
1825 Fourth St., Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158