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Glossary of Terms

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macrocalcification

A small deposit of calcium in the breast that cannot be felt but can be seen on a mammogram. It is usually caused by aging, an old injury or inflamed tissue, and is usually noncancerous.

magnetic resonance imaging

Also called MRI, NMRI and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. 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, such as the breast. These pictures can show the difference between normal and diseased tissue. Magnetic resonance imaging creates higher quality images of organs and soft tissue than other scanning techniques, such as computed tomography (CT) or X-ray. It is especially useful for imaging the brain, the spine, the soft tissue of joints and the inside of bones.

magnetic resonance perfusion imaging

Also called perfusion magnetic resonance imaging. A special type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that uses an injected dye in order to see blood flow through tissues.

magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging

A noninvasive imaging method that provides information about the activity of cells. It is used along with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which provides information about the shape and size of the tumor.

mainstream medicine

A system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using medicines, radiation or surgery. Also called allopathic medicine, biomedicine, conventional medicine, orthodox medicine and Western medicine.

maintenance therapy

Treatment that is given to help keep breast cancer from coming back after it has disappeared following initial therapy. It may include treatment with medicines, vaccines or antibodies that kill cancer cells, and it may be given for a long time. Tamoxifen and exemestane (brand name, Aromasin) are two examples of maintenance therapy for preventing breast cancer recurrence.

male breast cancer

Cancer that forms in tissues of the male breast region. Most male breast cancer begins in cells lining the breast ducts. It is very rare and usually affects older men.

malignancy

A cancerous breast tumor that can invade and destroy nearby tissue, and spread to other parts of the body.

malignant

Cancerous. Malignant cells can invade and destroy nearby tissue, and spread to other parts of the body.

malignant pleural effusion

A condition in which cancer causes an abnormal amount of fluid to collect between the thin layers of tissue (pleura), lining the outside of the lung and the wall of the chest cavity. Lung cancer, breast cancer, lymphoma and leukemia cause most malignant pleural effusions.

malnutrition

A condition caused by not getting enough calories or the right amount of key nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, needed for good health. Malnutrition may occur when there is a lack of nutrients in the diet, or when the body cannot absorb nutrients from food. Cancer and cancer treatment may cause malnutrition.

mammary

Having to do with the breast, or breasts.

mammary dysplasia

Also called benign breast disease, fibrocystic breast changes, and fibrocystic breast disease. 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. Symptoms may change throughout the menstrual cycle and usually stop after menopause.

mammary gland

Also called breast. A glandular organ located on the chest. The mammary gland is made up of connective tissue, fat and tissue that contains the glands that can make milk.

mammogram

An X-ray of the breast.

mammography

The use of film or a computer to create an X-ray picture that shows the internal anatomy of the breast.

MammoSite

Also called balloon catheter radiation. A system used to deliver internal radiation therapy after breast cancer surgery, in order to remove the cancer. MammoSite targets only the part of the breast where the cancer was found. After an individual has had a lumpectomy to remove the cancer, a small balloon on the end of a catheter (thin tube) is inserted into the empty space left by the surgery. The balloon is then filled with liquid and left in place. Using the catheter, radioactive seeds are put into the balloon twice a day for five days and removed each time. Once treatment has ended, the catheter and balloon are removed. MammoSite is a type of intracavitary brachytherapy and partial breast irradiation therapy (PBRT).

Mammotome

mantle field

The area of the neck, chest and lymph nodes in the armpit exposed to radiation.

MAO inhibitor

Also called monoamine oxidase inhibitor. A type of medicine used to treat depression. It stops the breakdown of certain chemicals in the brain that help improve a person's mood. A MAO inhibitor is a type of antidepressant.

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 breast cancer cells within it, which suggests that all of the cancer has been removed. The margin is described as positive, or involved, when the pathologist finds cancer cells within it, which suggests that all of the cancer has not been removed.

marker

A diagnostic indication that disease may develop.

mass

In medicine, a lump in the body. It may be caused by the abnormal growth of cells, a cyst, hormonal changes or an immune reaction. A mass may be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

massage therapy

A treatment in which the soft tissues of the body are kneaded, rubbed, tapped and stroked. Massage therapy may help people relax, relieve stress and pain, lower blood pressure and improve circulation. Therapeutic massage is being studied in the treatment of cancer symptoms such as pain and depression.

mastectomy

Surgery to remove the whole breast, or as much of the breast tissue as possible.

mastitis

A painful condition in which breast tissue is inflamed. It is usually caused by an infection and is most often seen in nursing mothers. The symptoms of mastitis are similar to the symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer. Those symptoms include breast enlargement (on one side only) and pain, enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit, flu-like symptoms, itching, lump, nipple discharge, redness and swelling. Fever is a symptom of mastitis that is not common to inflammatory breast cancer.

maternal

Having to do with the mother, coming from the mother or related through the mother.

maximum tolerated dose

Also called MTD. The highest dose of a medicine or treatment possible that does not unacceptable side effects. The maximum tolerated dose is determined in clinical trials by testing increasingly higher doses on different groups of people, until the highest dose with acceptable side effects is found.

mean survival time

The average time that individuals in a clinical study remained alive. The time is measured beginning either at diagnosis, or at the start of treatment.

measurable disease

A tumor that can be accurately measured in size. This information can be used to judge response to treatment.

medial supraclavicular lymph node

A lymph node located above the collar bone and between the center of the body and a line drawn through the nipple to the shoulder.

median

A statistics term. The middle value in a set of measurements.

median survival time

The time from either diagnosis or the start of treatment at which half of the participants with a given disease either are or are expected to be living. In a clinical trial, median survival time is one way to measure how effective a treatment is.

Medicaid

A health insurance program for people who cannot afford regular medical care. The program is run by U.S. federal, state, and local governments. People who receive Medicaid may have to pay a small amount for the services they get. Breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatments are listed as an option for coverage through Medicare.

medical castration

Refers to the use of medicines to slow or stop the function of the ovaries.

medical device

An instrument, tool, machine, test kit, or implant that is used to prevent, diagnose, or treat disease or other conditions. Medical devices range from tongue depressors to medical imaging equipment.

medical nutrition therapy

Also called nutrition therapy. Treatment based on nutrition. It includes checking a person's nutrition status and giving the right foods or nutrients to treat conditions such as side effects caused by breast cancer treatment. Therapy may involve simple changes in a person's diet, or feeding someone intravenously or through a tube. Medical nutrition therapy may help individuals recover more quickly and spend less time in the hospital.

medical oncologist

A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancers using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy and targeted therapy. A medical oncologist is often the main health care provider for someone who has breast cancer. A medical oncologist also gives supportive care and may coordinate treatment given by other specialists.

Medicare

A U.S. federal health insurance program for people aged 65 years or older and people with certain disabilities. Medicare pays for hospital stays, medical services and some prescription medicines, but people who receive Medicare must pay part of their healthcare costs.

medicine

Refers to the practices and procedures used for the prevention, treatment, or relief of symptoms of a diseases or conditions that impact health. This term may also refer to a legal medicine, used for the same purpose.

medullary breast carcinoma

A rare type of breast cancer that often can be treated successfully. It is marked by lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) in and around the tumor that can be seen when viewed under a microscope.

mega-voltage linear accelerator

Also called linac, linear accelerator, and MeV linear accelerator. A machine that uses electricity to form a stream of fast-moving subatomic particles. This creates high-energy radiation that may be used to treat breast cancer.

megestrol

Also called Megace. A medicine used to block estrogen and suppress the effects of estrogen and androgens. It is used to treat breast and endometrial cancer, and is also used to improve appetite in individuals with breast cancer. Megace belongs to the group of hormones called progestins.

melphalan

Also called Alkeran. A medicine that is being studied in the treatment of cancer, including breast cancer. It is used to treat multiple myeloma and ovarian epithelial cancer. It belongs to the family of medicines called alkylating agents.

meningeal metastasis

A serious problem that may occur in cancer in which cancer cells spread from the original (primary) tumor to the meninges, thin layers of tissue that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord. It can happen in many types of cancer, but is the most common in melanoma, breast, lung and gastrointestinal cancer. The cancer may cause the meninges to be inflamed. Also called carcinomatous meningitis, leptomeningeal carcinoma, leptomeningeal metastasis, meningeal carcinomatosis and neoplastic meningitis.

menopause

The time of life when a woman's ovaries stop producing hormones and her menstrual periods stop. Natural menopause usually occurs around age 50. A woman is said to be in menopause when she hasn't had a period for 12 months in a row. Symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, vaginal dryness, trouble concentrating and infertility.

menorrhagia

Abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding.

menstrual cycle

The monthly cycle of hormonal changes from the beginning of one menstrual period to the beginning of the next.

menstrual period

The periodic discharge of blood and tissue from the uterus. From puberty until menopause, menstruation occurs about every 28 days when a woman is not pregnant.

menstruation

Periodic discharge of blood and tissue from the uterus. From puberty until menopause, menstruation occurs about every 28 days when a woman is not pregnant.

mental health

A person's overall psychological and emotional condition. Good mental health is a state of well-being in which a person is able to cope with everyday events, think clearly, be responsible, meet challenges and have good relationships with others.

mental health counselor

A specialist trained to help individuals and their families communicate about emotional and personal matters. A mental health counselor may also help counseling participants work through issues that help determine the pros and cons of various decisions.

meperidine hydrochloride

Also called Demerol. A prescription medicine used to treat moderate to severe pain. It binds to opioid receptors in the central nervous system. Meperidine hydrochloride is a type of analgesic agent and a type of opioid.

meridian

In traditional Chinese medicine, one of 20 channels that form a network through which qi or chi (the body's vital energy) flows and that connect the body's acupuncture sites.

mesna

A medicine that helps protect the kidneys and bladder from the toxic effects of anticancer medicines such as ifosfamide and cyclophosphamide.

meta-analysis

A process that analyzes data from different studies done about the same subject. The results of a meta-analysis are usually stronger than the results of any study by itself.

metallic

Having to do with metal. Some breast cancer treatments may change the sense of taste and cause foods to have a metallic taste.

metastasectomy

Surgery to remove one or more metastases - tumors formed from cells that have spread from the primary tumor. When all metastases are removed, it is called a complete metastasectomy.

metastasis

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.

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.

metastatic

Having to do with metastasis, which is the spread of cancer from the primary site (place where it started) to other places in the body.

methotrexate

A medicine used to treat some types of breast cancer. Methotrexate stops cells from making DNA and may kill cancer cells. It is a type of antimetabolite.

metoclopramide

Also called Reglan, Ocatmide. A medicine that increases the motility (movements and contractions) of the stomach and upper intestine. It is used to treat certain stomach problems and nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. It is a type of antiemetic and a type of motility agent.

metronomic therapy

Continuous or frequent treatment with low doses of anticancer medicines, often given with other methods of therapy.

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.

micrometastasis

Small numbers of cancer cells that have spread from the primary tumor to other parts of the body, in numbers too small to be picked up on mammogram, CT or MRI scan. Micrometastasis can be detected with a sentinel node biopsy - a surgical procedure in which the sentinel lymph node - the lymph node located closest to the primary tumor - is removed and examined under a microscope. In breast cancer, the axillary lymph nodes, underneath the armpits, are examined to detect whether micrometastasis has occurred.

microscopic

Too small to be seen without a microscope.

milk duct

Also called breast duct. A thin tube in the breast that carries milk from the breast lobules to the nipple.

mind/body exercise

A form of exercise that combines body movement with mental focus and controlled breathing to improve strength, balance, flexibility and overall health. Examples of mind/body exercises are yoga, tai chi and qigong.

mindfulness relaxation

A type of meditation based on the concept of being 'mindful' or having increased awareness of the present. It uses breathing methods, guided imagery and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.

Miraluma test

Also called scintimammography, or sestamibi breast imaging. 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. It 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.

mitigate

To make milder or less painful.

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.

molecular marker

Also called biomarker and signature molecule. A biological molecule found in blood, other body fluids, or tissues that is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease. A molecular marker may be used to see how well the body responds to a treatment for a disease or condition.

molecular medicine

A branch of medicine that develops ways to diagnose and treat disease by understanding the way genes, proteins, and other cellular molecules work. Molecular medicine is based on research that shows how certain genes, molecules and cellular functions may become abnormal in diseases such as breast cancer.

molecular risk assessment

A procedure in which biomarkers (for example, biological molecules or changes in tumor cell DNA) are used to estimate a person's risk for developing cancer. Specific biomarkers may be linked to particular types of cancer.

molecularly targeted therapy

In cancer treatment, substances that kill cancer cells by targeting key molecules involved in cancer cell growth.

monitor

In medicine, to regularly watch and check a person or condition to see if there is any change in an individual's disease-condition, set of symptoms or overall health.

monoamine oxidase inhibitor

Also called MAO inhibitor. A type of medicine used to treat depression. It stops the breakdown of certain chemicals in the brain that help improve a person's mood. A monoamine oxidase inhibitor is a type of antidepressant

monoclonal antibody

A type of protein made in the lab that can bind to substances in the body, including tumor cells. There are many kinds of monoclonal antibodies. Each monoclonal antibody is made to find one substance. Monoclonal antibodies can be used alone or to carry medicines, toxins, or radioactive materials directly to a tumor.

morbidity

A disease or the incidence of disease within a population. Morbidity also refers to adverse effects caused by a treatment.

mortality

The state of being mortal (destined to die). Mortality also refers to the death rate, or the number of deaths in a certain group of people in a certain period of time. Mortality may be reported for people who have a certain disease, live in one area of the country, or who are of a certain gender, age or ethnic group.

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, such as the breast. These pictures can show the difference between healthy and diseased tissue. MRI makes better images of organs and soft tissue than other scanning techniques, such as computed tomography (CT) or X-ray. MRI is especially useful for imaging the brain, the spine, the soft tissue of joints, and the inside of bones. Also called magnetic resonance imaging, NMRI, and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging.

MRSI

A noninvasive imaging method that provides information about the activity of cells. It is used along with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which provides information about the shape and size of the tumor. Also called 1H-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging.

MTD

Also called maximum tolerated dose. The highest dose of a medicine or treatment possible that does not trigger unacceptable side effects. The MTD is determined in clinical trials by testing increasing doses on different groups of people until the highest dose with acceptable side effects is found.

mTOR

A protein that helps control several cell functions, including cell division and survival, and binds to rapamycin and other medicines. mTOR may be more active in some types of cancer cells than it is in normal cells. Blocking mTOR may cause the cancer cells to die.

mucositis

A complication of some cancer therapies in which the lining of the digestive system becomes inflamed. Often seen as sores in the mouth.

multicenter study

A clinical trial that is carried out at more than one medical center.

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.

multidisciplinary

In medicine, a term used to describe a treatment planning approach or team that includes a number of doctors and other healthcare professionals who are experts in different specialties (disciplines). In cancer treatment, the primary disciplines are medical oncology (treatment with medicines), surgical oncology (treatment with surgery), and radiation oncology (treatment with radiation).

multidisciplinary opinion

Also called 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 for an individual. In breast cancer treatment, a multidisciplinary opinion may include that of a medical oncologist (who provides cancer treatment with medicines), a surgical oncologist (who provides cancer treatment with surgery), and a radiation oncologist (who provides cancer treatment with radiation).

multidrug resistance

Treatment used to make cancer cells less resistant to anticancer medicines.

multidrug resistance inhibition

Treatment used to make cancer cells less resistant to anticancer medicines.

multifocal breast cancer

Breast cancer in which there is more than one tumor, all of which have arisen from one original tumor. The tumors are likely to be in the same quadrant (section) of the breast.

music therapy

Treatment that uses music to help relieve pain or stress and promote well-being. It is being studied in the treatment of several cancer-related problems and other conditions.

mutation

Any change in the DNA of a cell. Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment. Mutations can be harmful, beneficial or have no effect. If they occur in cells that make eggs or sperm, they can be inherited; if mutations occur in other types of cells, they are not inherited. Certain mutations may lead to breast cancer or other diseases.

mutation carrier

A person who has a mutated (changed) copy of a gene. This change may cause a disease in that person or in his or her children. The BRCA1 (breast cancer 1) and BRCA2 (breast cancer 2) genes, which increase the risk for breast and ovarian cancers, are an example of a mutation that could be carried from one generation to the next.

myalgia

Pain in a muscle or group of muscles.

myelosuppression

A condition in which bone marrow activity is decreased, resulting in fewer red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Myelosuppression is a side effect of some breast cancer treatments. When myelosuppression is severe, it is called myeloablation.

Denver, CO  ·  September 13, 2014

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