Words to Know

false-negative test result

A test result that indicates a person does not have a specific disease or condition, when in fact the person actually does have the disease or condition.

false-positive test result

A test result that indicates a person has a specific disease or condition, when in fact the person actually does not have the disease or condition.

familial cancer

Cancer that occurs in families more often than would be expected by chance. These cancers often occur at an early age, and may indicate the presence of a gene mutation that increases the risk of cancer. They may also be a sign of shared environmental or lifestyle factors.

family medical history

A record of the relationships among family members along with their medical histories. This includes current and past illnesses. A family medical history may show a pattern of certain diseases in a family. Also called family history.


Also called fulvestrant and ICI 182780. A medicine used to treat certain types of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Faslodex blocks estrogen activity in the body and is a type of antiestrogen.

fast-neutron beam radiation

A type of radiation therapy that uses tiny particles called neutrons made by a machine called a cyclotron.


A condition marked by extreme tiredness and inability to function due lack of energy. Fatigue may be acute or chronic.


Food and Drug Administration. An agency in the U.S. federal government whose mission is to protect public health by making sure that food, cosmetics and nutritional supplements are safe to use and truthfully labeled. The FDA also makes sure that medicines, medical devices and equipment are safe and effective, and that blood for transfusions and transplant tissue are safe.

febrile neutropenia

A condition marked by fever and a lower-than-normal number of neutrophils in the blood. A neutrophil is a type of white blood cell that helps fight infection. Having too few neutrophils increases the risk of infection.

FEC regimen

Also called FEC. An abbreviation for a chemotherapy combination used with other types of therapy to treat breast cancer, including breast cancer that has spread or come back. It includes the medicines fluorouracil, epirubicin hydrochloride and cyclophosphamide.


Also called letrozole. A medicine used to treat advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Femara causes a decrease in the amount of estrogen made by the body. It is a type of aromatase inhibitor.

fentanyl citrate

A medicine used to treat severe cancer pain in that occurs even though the individual is already taking opioids. It is also used during anesthesia for surgery. Fentanyl citrate binds to opioid receptors in the central nervous system. It is a type of analgesic agent and a type of opioid.

fentanyl sublingual spray

A form of the medicine fentanyl that is sprayed under the tongue and then absorbed into the blood. It is being studied in the treatment of breakthrough pain (pain that occurs even when pain-control medicine is already being used) in cancer individuals. Fentanyl is a type of opioid analgesic.


The ability to produce children.


Brand name, Allegra. Allegra is an antihistamine used to treat certain allergy symptoms by blocking a chemical released during an allergic response that causes itching, sneezing, runny nose, wheezing and watery eyes. Antihistamines are advised as pretreatment when using paclitaxel, a chemotherapy agent. Antihistamines can prevent hypersensitivity reactions with paclitaxel use, which include decrease in blood pressure and impaired breathing.


A benign (not cancerous) tumor that usually forms in the breast from both fibrous and glandular tissue. Fibroadenomas are the most common benign breast tumors.

fibrocystic breast changes

Also called benign breast disease, fibrocystic breast disease, and mammary dysplasia. A common condition marked by benign (not cancerous) 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.

fiducial marker

A medical device or small object placed in or on the body to mark an area for radiation treatment or surgery. For example, implantable soft-tissue markers may be put around a breast tumor before biopsy to clarify the precise area for the surgeon, if a tumor needs to be removed at a later date.

film mammography

The use of X-rays to create a picture of the breast on a film.

fine-needle aspiration biopsy

Also called FNA biopsy. The removal of tissue or fluid with a thin needle for examination under a microscope. Fine-needle aspirations are sometimes used to test for breast cancer, determining whether a lump in the breast is cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign).