Glossary of Terms
A condition in which the ovaries stop working and menstrual periods stop before the age of 40. Natural menopause usually occurs around age 50. A woman is said to be in menopause when she hasn't had a period for one full year. Symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, vaginal dryness, trouble concentrating and infertility. Early menopause can be caused by some breast cancer treatments, surgery to remove the ovaries and certain diseases or genetic conditions. Also called premature menopause, premature ovarian failure and primary ovarian insufficiency.
early-stage breast cancer
Breast cancer that has not traveled beyond the breast or the axillary lymph nodes. This includes ductal carcinoma in situ, stage I, stage IIA, stage IIB and stage IIIA breast cancers.
Swelling caused by excess fluid in body tissues.
Also called neurofeedback. A treatment being studied to improve brain function in certain brain disorders and in individuals treated with chemotherapy for breast cancer, who may suffer from chemobrain. Chemobrain is a diminished ability to remember or concentrate, following breast cancer therapy. In EEG biofeedback, sensors are placed on a person's head, which allows brain activity to be shown as patterns on a computer screen. A beep or a tone may be used as a reward to a person for changing certain brain activities. EEG biofeedback may help individuals who are affected with cancer deal with the stress and mental side effects of chemotherapy.
Effectiveness. In medicine, the ability of an intervention (for example, a medicine or surgery) to produce the desired beneficial effect.
Eklund displacement views
A procedure used to do a mammogram (X-ray of the breasts) in women with breast implants. The implant is pushed back against the chest wall and the breast tissue is pulled forward and around it so the tissue can be seen in the mammogram. Also called Eklund views and implant displacement views.
A procedure in which pulses of weak electrical current are sent through acupuncture needles into acupuncture points in the skin. This procedure is being studied in the prevention of nausea and vomiting in individuals undergoing chemotherapy.
A stream of electrons (small negatively charged particles found in atoms) that can be used for radiation therapy.
Requirements that must be met for an individual to be included in a clinical trial. These requirements help make sure that participants are similar to each other in terms of specific factors such as age, type and stage of cancer, general health and previous treatment. When all participants meet the same eligibility criteria, it gives researchers greater confidence that results of the study are caused by the treatment being tested and not by other factors.
Also called epirubicin and epirubicin hydrochloride. A medicine used together with other agents to treat early breast cancer that has spread to lymph nodes. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Ellence is a type of anthracycline antibiotic.
Describes a substance that causes vomiting. Also called emetogenic.
Refers to tissue that makes and releases hormones that travel in the bloodstream and control the actions of other cells or organs. Some examples of endocrine tissues are the pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands.
Also called hormonal therapy, hormone therapy and hormone treatment. Treatment that adds, blocks or removes hormones. For certain conditions, such as menopause, hormones are given to adjust low hormone levels. To slow or stop the growth of breast cancer, synthetic hormones or other medicines may be given to block the body's natural hormones. Sometimes surgery is needed to remove the gland that makes a certain hormone.
In clinical trials, an event or outcome that can be measured objectively to determine whether the intervention being studied is beneficial. The endpoints of a clinical trial are usually included in the study objectives. Some examples of endpoints are survival, improvements in quality of life, relief of symptoms and disappearance of the tumor.
Also called energy therapy, hands-on-healing or reiki. A form of complementary and alternative medicine based on the belief that a vital energy flows through the human body. The goal of energy healing is to balance the energy flow in the individual. It is used to reduce stress and anxiety and promote well-being. Energy healing is being studied in individuals receiving cancer therapy, to find out if it can improve quality of life, boost the immune system, or reduce side effects.
A form of nutrition that is delivered into the digestive system as a liquid. Drinking nutrition beverages or formulas and tubefeeding are forms of enteral nutrition.
The study of the patterns, causes and control of disease in groups of people.
A medicine used together with other medicines to treat early breast cancer that has spread to lymph nodes. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of breast cancer and with other agents. Epirubicin is a type of anthracycline antibiotic. Also called Ellence and epirubicin hydrochloride.
Also called estrogen receptor. A protein found inside the cells of the female reproductive tissue, some other types of tissue and some cancer cells. The hormone estrogen will bind to the receptors inside the cells and may cause the cells to grow.
Also called estrogen receptor-positive. Describes cells that have a receptor protein that binds the hormone estrogen. Cancer cells that are ER+ may need estrogen to grow and may stop growing or die when treated with substances that block the binding and actions of estrogen.
Also called estrogen receptor-negative. Describes cells that do not have a protein to which the hormone estrogen will bind. Cancer cells that are ER- do not need estrogen to grow and usually do not stop growing when treated with hormones that block estrogen from binding.
Describes breast cancer cells that do not have estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, or large amounts of HER2/neu protein. Also called ER-negative PR-negative HER2/neu-negative and triple-negative breast cancer.
A medicine used to treat metastatic breast cancer in individuals who have already been treated with other chemotherapy. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Eribulin mesylate may block cancer cell growth by stopping cell division. It belongs to the family of medicines called antitubulin agents. Also called E7389 and Halaven.
Redness of the skin.
A form of the hormone 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 lab. They may be used as a type of birth control and to treat symptoms of menopause, menstrual disorders, osteoporosis, and other conditions.
A substance that keeps cells from making or using estrogen, a hormone that plays a role in female sex characteristics, the menstrual cycle, and pregnancy. Estrogen blockers may stop some cancer cells from growing and are used to prevent and treat breast cancer. They are also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. An estrogen blocker is a type of hormone antagonist. Also called antiestrogen.
Also called ER. A protein found inside the cells of the female reproductive tissue, some other types of tissue and some breast cancer cells. The hormone estrogen will bind to the receptors inside the cells and may cause the cells to grow.
Also called ER- or ER negative. Describes cells that do not have a protein to which the hormone estrogen will bind. Breast cancer cells that are estrogen receptor-negative do not need estrogen to grow and usually do not stop growing when treated with hormones that block estrogen from binding.
Also called ER+ or ER positive. Describes cells that have a receptor protein that binds the hormone estrogen. Breast cancer cells that are estrogen receptor-positive may need estrogen to grow and may stop growing or die when treated with substances that block the binding and actions of estrogen.
estrogen receptor test
A lab test to find out if breast cancer cells have estrogen receptors, proteins to which estrogen will bind. If the cells have estrogen receptors, they may need estrogen to grow, and this may affect how the cancer is treated.
estrogen replacement therapy
Also called ERT. Hormones given to postmenopausal women or to women who have had their ovaries surgically removed. Hormones are given to replace the estrogen no longer produced by the ovaries.
A medicine that increases the effectiveness of radiation therapy.
Brand name, Didronel. A medicine that belongs to the family of medicines called bisphosphonates. Bisphosphonates are used as treatment for hypercalcemia (abnormally high levels of calcium in the blood) and for pain caused by breast cancer that has spread to the bone (bone metastases).
Brand names Afinitor and Zortress. Everolimus is FDA approved to treat postmenopausal women with metastatic, hormone-positive breast cancer in combination with exemestane (Aromasin). Everolimus stops cancer cells from dividing and may block the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow. It also decreases the body's immune responses. It is a type of antiangiogenesis agent and a type of immunosuppressant. Also called RAD001.
A medicine used to reduce the risk of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women who are at high risk of the disease or who have osteoporosis. It is also used to prevent and treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. It is being studied in the prevention of breast cancer in certain premenopausal women and in the prevention and treatment of other conditions. Evista blocks the effects of the hormone estrogen in the breast and increases the amount of calcium in bone. It is a type of selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM). Also called raloxifene hydrochloride.
Removal by surgery.
A surgical procedure in which an entire lump or suspicious area is removed for diagnosis. The tissue is then examined under a microscope.
Also called Aromasin. A medicine used to treat advanced breast cancer and to prevent recurrent breast cancer in postmenopausal women who have already been treated with tamoxifen. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Exemestane causes a decrease in the amount of estrogen made by the body. It is a type of aromatase inhibitor.
expanded access trial
Also called compassionate use trial. A way to provide an investigational therapy to an individual who is not eligible to receive that therapy in a clinical trial, but who has a serious or life-threatening illness for which other treatments are not available. Expanded access allows an individual to receive promising but not yet fully studied or approved cancer therapies when no other treatment option exists.
In clinical trials, refers to a medicine (including a new medicine, dose, combination, or route of administration) or procedure that has undergone basic lab testing and received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be tested in human subjects. An agent or procedure may be approved by the FDA for use in one disease or condition, but be considered experimental in other diseases or conditions. Also called investigational.
Refers to an area or organ outside of the lymph nodes.