Words to Know
Energy released in the form of particle or electromagnetic waves. Common sources of radiation include radon gas, cosmic rays from outer space, medical X-rays, and energy given off by a radioisotope (unstable form of a chemical element that releases radiation as it breaks down and becomes more stable).
A person who makes sure that the radiation machine delivers the right amount of radiation to the correct site in the body. The physicist works with the radiation oncologist to choose the treatment schedule and dose that has the best chance of killing the most breast cancer cells.
A type of external radiation therapy that uses special equipment to position the individual in treatment, and precisely give a single large dose of radiation to the tumor. It is used to treat brain tumors caused by metastasis and other brain disorders that cannot be treated by regular surgery. Also called radiosurgery, stereotactic radiosurgery, stereotaxic radiosurgery.
Also called irradiation and radiotherapy. The use of high-energy radiation from X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons, and other sources to kill breast cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance, such as a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody, that travels in the blood to tissues throughout the body.
radical lymph node dissection
A surgical procedure to remove most or all of the lymph nodes located in the underarm area (axillary area) that drain lymph from the area around a breast tumor. The lymph nodes are then examined under a microscope by a pathologist to see if breast cancer cells have spread to them.
Also called Halsted radical mastectomy. Surgery for breast cancer in which the breast, chest muscles, and all of the lymph nodes under the arm are removed. For many years, this was the breast cancer operation used most often, but it is used rarely now. Doctors consider radical mastectomy only when the tumor has spread to the chest muscles.