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Glossary of Terms

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nanoparticle paclitaxel

Brand name, Abraxane. A medicine used to treat breast cancer that has spread or that has come back within six months after chemotherapy. It is also being studied in the treatment of newly diagnosed breast cancer and other types of cancer. Nanoparticle paclitaxel is a type of mitotic inhibitor. Also called ABI-007, paclitaxel albumin-stabilized nanoparticle formulation, and protein-bound paclitaxel.

narcotic

A substance used to treat moderate to severe pain. Narcotics are similar to opiates such as morphine and codeine, but are not made from opium. They bind to opioid receptors in the central nervous system. Narcotics are now called opioids.

National Cancer Institute

The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, is the Federal Government's principal agency for cancer research. The National Cancer Institute conducts, coordinates, and funds cancer research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer. Access the National Cancer Institute Web site at http://www.cancer.gov. Also called NCI.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

A federal agency that uses science to explore complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices, trains CAM researchers, and provides authoritative information about CAM to professionals and the public. NCCAM awards grants for research projects, training, and career development in CAM; sponsors conferences, educational programs, and exhibits; studies ways to use proven CAM practices along with conventional medical practice; and supports adding CAM to medical, dental, and nursing school programs. NCCAM is part of the National Institutes of Health. Also called NCCAM.

National Institutes of Health

A federal agency in the U.S. that conducts biomedical research in its own labs; supports the research of non-Federal scientists in universities, medical schools, hospitals, and research institutions throughout the country and abroad; helps in the training of research investigators; and fosters communication of medical information. Access the National Institutes of Health Web site at http://www.nih.gov. Also called NIH.

natural history study

A study that follows a group of people over time who have, or are at risk of developing, a specific medical condition or disease. A natural history study collects health information in order to understand how the medical condition or disease develops and how to treat it.

naturopathy

A system of complementary medicine that emphasizes disease prevention and treatment, and the notion of treating 'the whole person,' rather than a specific region affected by disease. Naturopathy favors methods of healing that assist the body in healing itself. Those methods can include dietary supplements and herbal medicines, some of which are not approved for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Naturopathy also utilizes nutrition, acupuncture, aromatherapy, meditation, exercise, and body work such as yoga, as forms of treatment. It steers away from pharmaceutical medicines and surgery, whenever possible. In the United States, naturopathic physicians are trained in natural health care at accredited medical colleges. Because of an increased demand for natural medicine from consumers, integrative partnerships have formed between conventional medical doctors and licensed Naturopathic Doctors (NDs). Individuals affected by breast cancer who receive naturopathic treatments should take an integrative approach by consulting a general practitioner or oncologist before using any complementary therapies. An integrative approach helps the individual in breast cancer treatment to avoid any interactions between pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements, or any therapies that could slow or prevent the healing process.

nausea

A feeling of sickness or discomfort in the stomach that may come with an urge to vomit. Nausea is a side effect of some types of breast cancer treatments.

NCCAM

A federal agency that uses science to explore complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices, trains CAM researchers, and provides authoritative information about CAM to professionals and the public. NCCAM awards grants for research projects, training, and career development in CAM; sponsors conferences, educational programs, and exhibits; studies ways to use proven CAM practices along with conventional medical practice; and supports adding CAM to medical, dental, and nursing school programs. NCCAM is part of the National Institutes of Health. Also called National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

NCI

NCI, part of the National Institutes of Health of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, is the Federal Government's principal agency for cancer research. It conducts, coordinates, and funds cancer research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer. Access the NCI Web site at http://www.cancer.gov. Also called National Cancer Institute.

NCI clinical trials cooperative group

A group of researchers, cancer centers, and community doctors who are involved in studies of new cancer treatment, prevention, early detection, quality of life, and rehabilitation. Clinical trials carried out by cooperative groups are sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and large numbers of participants take part in many locations. Examples include the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG), and Children's Oncology Group (COG).

needle biopsy

The removal of tissue or fluid with a needle for examination under a microscope. 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.

needle localization

Also called needle/wire localization and wire localization. A procedure used to mark a small area of abnormal tissue so it can be removed by surgery. An imaging device is used to guide a thin wire with a hook at the end through a hollow needle to place the wire in or around the unhealthy area. Once the wire is in the right place, the needle is removed and the wire is left in place so the doctor will know where the unhealthy tissue is. The wire is removed when a biopsy is done.

needle-localized biopsy

A procedure to mark and remove abnormal tissue when the doctor cannot feel a lump. An imaging device is used to guide a thin wire with a hook on the end through a hollow needle to place the wire in or around the unhealthy area. Once the wire is in the right place, the needle is removed and the wire is left in so the doctor will know where the unhealthy tissue is. The wire is removed at the time the biopsy is done.

negative axillary lymph node

A lymph node in the armpit that is free of breast cancer.

negative test result

A test result that does not show the specific disease, condition, or biomarker for which the test is being done.

neoadjuvant therapy

Treatment given as a first step to shrink a tumor before the main treatment, which is usually surgery, is given. Examples of neoadjuvant therapy include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormone therapy. It is a type of induction therapy.

neoplasm

Also called tumor. An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasms may be benign (noncancerous), or malignant (cancerous).

nerve

A bundle of fibers that receives and sends messages between the body and the brain. The messages are sent by chemical and electrical changes in the cells that make up the nerves.

nerve block

A procedure in which medicine is injected directly into or around a nerve or into the spine to block pain.

neurocognitive

Having to do with the ability to think and reason. This includes the ability to concentrate, remember things, process information, learn, speak and understand.

neurologic

Having to do with nerves or the nervous system.

neuropathy

Also called peripheral neuropathy. A nerve problem that causes pain, numbness, tingling, swelling, or muscle weakness in different parts of the body. It usually begins in the hands or feet and gets worse over time. Neuropathy may be caused by physical injury, infection, toxic substances, disease (such as cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, or malnutrition), or medicines, including anticancer agents.

neurotoxicity

The tendency of some treatments to cause damage to the nervous system.

neurotoxin

A substance that is poisonous to nerve tissue.

neutropenia

A condition in which there is a lower-than-normal number of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell).

NIH

A federal agency in the U.S. that conducts biomedical research in its own labs; supports the research of non-Federal scientists in universities, medical schools, hospitals, and research institutions throughout the country and abroad; helps in the training of research investigators; and fosters communication of medical information. Access the NIH Web site at http://www.nih.gov. Also called National Institutes of Health.

nipple

In anatomy, the small raised area in the center of the breast through which milk can flow to the outside.

nipple discharge

Fluid that is not milk coming from the nipple.

nitrosourea

An anticancer medicine that can cross the blood-brain barrier. Carmustine and lomustine are nitrosoureas.

NMRI

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

node-negative

Breast cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes.

node-positive

Breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes.

nodule

A growth or lump that may be malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous).

nonblinded

Describes a clinical trial or other experiment in which the researchers know what treatments are being given to each study subject or experimental group. If human subjects are involved, they know what treatments they are receiving.

nonconsecutive case series

A clinical study that includes some, but not all, of the eligible participants identified by the researchers during the study registration period. This type of study does not usually have a control group.

noninvasive

Breast cancer that stays inside the ducts or the lobules of the breast. An example of a noninvasive breast cancer is ductal carcinoma in situ, a very early type of cancer where breast cancer cells are located in the milk ducts. Because these cells cannot spread at this stage, DCIS is considered noninvasive breast cancer. In some cases, DCIS may become invasive cancer if it is not removed, although doctors are still learning how to predict which DCIS will become invasive. The term 'noninvasive' in general use, in medicine, describes a procedure that does not require inserting an instrument through the skin or into a body opening.

nonmalignant

Also called benign. Not cancerous. Nonmalignant tumors may grow larger but do not spread to other parts of the body.

nonmetastatic

Breast cancer that has not spread from the primary site (place where it started) to other places in the body, such as the lymph nodes.

nonprescription

Also called OTC and over-the-counter. A medicine that can be obtained without a prescription (a doctor's order). Examples include analgesics (pain relievers) such as aspirin and acetaminophen. Some over the counter medicines interact with pharmaceutical medicines.

nonrandomized clinical trial

A clinical trial in which the participants are not assigned by chance to different treatment groups. Participants may choose which group they want to be in, or they may be assigned to the groups by the researchers.

nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug

Also called NSAID. A medicine that decreases fever, swelling, pain and redness. Aspirin, ibuprofen (brand names: Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (brand name, Aleve) are NSAIDs that are approved in the United States and sold over the counter.

nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor

A medicine that decreases the production of sex hormones (estrogen or testosterone) and slows the growth of tumors that need sex hormones to grow. An example of a nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor used in breast cancer treatment is anastrozole (brand name, Arimidex).

nontoxic

Not harmful or destructive.

normal range

Also called reference interval, reference range, and reference values. In medicine, a set of values that a doctor uses to interpret an individual's test results. The normal range for a given test is based on test results for 95 percent of the healthy population. Sometimes individuals whose test results are outside of the normal range may be healthy, and some individuals whose test results are within the normal range may have a health problem. The normal range for a test may be different for different groups of people (for example, men and women).

NP

Also called advanced practice nurse, APN, and nurse practitioner. A registered nurse who has additional education and training in how to diagnose and treat disease. NPs are licensed at the state level and certified by national nursing organizations. In breast cancer care, an NP may manage the primary care of individuals receiving treatment and their families, based on a practice agreement with a doctor.

NPO

A Latin abbreviation for 'nothing by mouth.'

NSAID

Also called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine. A medicine that decreases fever, swelling, pain and redness.

nuclear grade

An evaluation of the size and shape of the nucleus in tumor cells and the percent of tumor cells that are in the process of dividing or growing. Breast cancers with low nuclear grade grow and spread less quickly than cancers with high nuclear grade.

nuclear magnetic resonance imaging

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

nuclear medicine scan

A method of diagnostic imaging that uses very small amounts of radioactive material. The individual 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.

nurse

A health professional trained to care for people who are ill or disabled.

nurse practitioner

Also called advanced practice nurse, APN, and NP. A registered nurse who has additional education and training in how to diagnose and treat disease. Nurse practitioners are licensed at the state level and certified by national nursing organizations. In breast cancer care, a nurse practitioner may manage the primary care of individuals receiving treatment and their families, based on a practice agreement with a doctor.

nutrition

The taking in and use of food and other nourishing material by the body. Nutrition is a three-part process. First, food or drink is consumed. Second, the body breaks down the food or drink into nutrients. Third, the nutrients travel through the bloodstream to different parts of the body where they are used as 'fuel' and for many other purposes. To give the body proper nutrition, a person has to eat and drink enough of the foods that contain key nutrients.

nutrition therapy

Also called medical 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 those caused by breast cancer. One example of a condition caused by breast cancer is chronic fatigue, which may be addressed by nutritional therapy. It may involve simple changes in a person's diet, or intravenous or tube feeding. Nutrition therapy may help individuals recover more quickly and spend less time in the hospital.

nutritional counseling

Also called dietary counseling. A process by which a health professional with special training in nutrition helps people make healthy food choices and form healthy eating habits. In breast cancer treatment, the goal of nutritional counseling is to help individuals stay healthy during and after treatment, and to stay strong enough to keep the immune system fired up to fight off infections, as well as the recurrence of disease.

nutritional status

The state of a person's health in terms of the nutrients in his or her diet.

nutritional supplement

Also called dietary supplement. A product that is added to the diet. A nutritional supplement is taken by mouth, and usually contains one or more dietary ingredient, such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and enzymes.

nutritionist

Also called dietitian. A health professional with special training in nutrition who can help with dietary choices.

Denver, CO  ·  September 13, 2014

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