Words to Know

first-degree relative

Also called FDR. The parents, brothers, sisters, or children of an individual. Breast cancer that affects a first degree relative may indicate risk for that illness in another relative within that same immediate family.

first-line therapy

Initial treatment used to reduce breast cancer. First-line therapy is followed by other treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormone therapy to get rid of cancer that remains. Also called induction therapy, primary therapy and primary treatment.

five-year survival rate

The percent of people in a study or treatment group who are alive 5 years after they were diagnosed with or treated for breast cancer. The breast cancer may or may not have come back.


A medicine used to treat symptoms of breast cancer, as well as cancers of the colon, stomach, and pancreas. It is also used in a cream to treat certain skin conditions. Fluorouracil stops cells from making DNA and it may kill cancer cells. It is a type of antimetabolite. Also called 5-fluorouracil and 5-FU.


A medicine used to treat depression, which can include feelings marked by ongoing sadness, despair, loss of energy, and difficulty dealing with normal daily life. Some individuals affected by breast cancer experience depression. Fluoxetine is a type of antidepressant.

FNA biopsy

Also called fine-needle aspiration 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).


In terms of cancer, limited to a specific area.

Food and Drug Administration

Also called FDA. 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 Food and Drug Administration also makes sure that medicines, medical devices and equipment are safe and effective, and that blood for transfusions and transplant tissue are safe.


Also called alendronate sodium. Fosamax is a medicine prescribed to prevent bone loss in individuals treated with certain medicines for breast cancer, and is being studied in the treatment of hypercalcemia (high levels of calcium in the blood) and bone pain caused by cancer. It is also used to treat certain bone conditions. Fosamax slows the breakdown of bone and prevents the loss of calcium. It is a type of bisphosphonate.


Dividing the total dose of radiation therapy into several smaller, equal doses delivered over a period of several days.


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

functional magnetic resonance imaging

A noninvasive tool used to observe functioning in the brain or other organs by detecting changes in chemical composition, blood flow or both.