Words to Know


Brand name, Boniva. A medicine used to prevent and treat osteoporosis. It is being studied in the treatment of breast cancer that has spread to the bones. It belongs to the family of medicines called bisphosphonates.


Brand names: Advil, Motrin. A medicine used to treat fever, swelling, pain and redness by preventing the body from making a substance that causes inflammation. It is a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAID).


Describes a disease of unknown cause.

image-guided radiation therapy

Also called IGRT. A procedure that uses a computer to create a picture of a tumor to help guide the radiation beam during radiation therapy. The pictures are made using CT, ultrasound, X-ray or other imaging techniques. Image-guided radiation therapy makes radiation therapy more accurate and causes less damage to healthy tissue.


In medicine, a process that makes pictures of areas inside the body. Imaging uses methods such as X-rays (high-energy radiation), ultrasound (high-energy sound waves) and radio waves.

imaging procedure

A method of producing pictures of areas inside the body.

immune adjuvant

A medicine that stimulates the immune system to respond to disease.

immune function

Production and action of cells that fight disease or infection.

immune response

The activity of the immune system against foreign substances (antigens).

immune system

The complex group of organs and cells that defends the body against infections and other diseases.

immune system tolerance

The failure of the immune system to respond to an antigen that previously caused an immune response.


A technique used to trigger an immune response that results in resistance to a specific disease, especially an infectious disease. Studies are underway to find agents that will trigger the body's immune response, with the goal of finding new treatments for breast cancer.


A test that uses the binding of antibodies to antigens to identify and measure certain substances. Immunoassays may be used to diagnose disease. Also, test results can provide information about a disease that may help in planning treatment (for example, when estrogen receptors are measured in breast cancer).


Having a weakened immune system caused by certain diseases or treatments.


The decreased ability of the body to fight infections and other diseases.


A technique used to identify specific molecules in different kinds of tissue. The tissue is treated with antibodies that bind the specific molecule. These are made visible under a microscope by using a color reaction, a radioisotope, colloidal gold or a fluorescent dye. Immunohistochemistry is used to help diagnose diseases, such as breast cancer, and to detect the presence of microorganisms. It is also used in basic research to understand how cells grow and differentiate (become more specialized).


The study of the body's immune system.


Change in the body's immune system, caused by agents that activate or suppress its function.


Suppression of the body's immune system and its ability to fight infections and other diseases. Immunosuppression may be deliberately induced with medicines, as in preparation for bone marrow or other organ transplantation, to prevent rejection of the donor tissue. It may also result from certain diseases or from anticancer medicines.


Treatment to boost or restore the ability of the immune system to destroy cancer, infections and other diseases. Also used to lessen certain side effects that may be caused by some cancer treatments. Agents used in immunotherapy include monoclonal antibodies, growth factors and vaccines. These agents may also have a direct antitumor effect. Multiple studies are underway to find immunotherapy treatments that will be effective at treating breast cancer. Also called biological response modifier therapy, biological therapy, biotherapy, and BRM therapy.