Words to Know

refractory cancer

Also called resistant cancer. Breast cancer that does not respond to treatment. The cancer may be resistant at the beginning of treatment or it may become resistant during treatment.


In medicine, describes a disease or condition that does not respond to treatment.


A treatment plan that specifies the dosage, the schedule and the duration of treatment.

regional anesthesia

A temporary loss of feeling or awareness in a part of the body, such as an arm or a leg, caused by special medicines or other substances called anesthetics. The individual receiving treatment stays awake, but has no feeling in the part of the body treated with the anesthetic.

regional cancer

Refers to cancer that has grown beyond the primary breast tumor to nearby lymph nodes, such as the axillary lymph nodes under the arms, or to nearby organs and tissues.

regional chemotherapy

Treatment with anticancer medicines directed to a specific area of the breast.

regional lymph node

In oncology, a lymph node that drains lymph from the region around a breast tumor.

regional lymph node dissection

A surgical procedure to remove some of the lymph nodes that drain lymph from the area around a breast tumor. The lymph nodes are then examined under a microscope to see if breast cancer cells have spread to them.


In oncology, describes the body area right around a breast tumor.

registered dietician

A health professional with special training in the use of diet and nutrition to keep the body healthy. A registered dietitian may help the medical team improve the nutritional health of an individual.


A decrease in the size of a breast tumor or in the extent of cancer in the body.

rehabilitation specialist

A healthcare professional who helps people recover from an illness or injury and return to daily life. Examples of rehabilitation specialists are physical therapists and occupational therapists.


In medicine, a process to restore mental and/or physical abilities lost to injury or disease, in order to function in a healthy or near-healthy way.


The return of a disease or the signs and symptoms of a disease after a period of improvement.

relative survival rate

A specific measurement of survival. For breast cancer, the rate is calculated by adjusting the survival rate to remove all causes of death except breast cancer. The rate is determined at specific time intervals, such as 2 years and 5 years after diagnosis.

relaxation technique

A method used to reduce tension and anxiety, and control pain. Relaxation techniques are focused on bringing about a sense of calm, and are effective at reducing stress by slowing the heart rate and breathing rate, lowering blood pressure, and increasing blood flow to major muscles.

remission induction therapy

Initial treatment with anticancer medicines to decrease the signs or symptoms of cancer or make them disappear.


A decrease in or disappearance of signs and symptoms of breast cancer. In partial remission, some, but not all, signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared. In complete remission, all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared, although breast cancer still may be in the body.

remote brachytherapy

A type of internal radiation treatment in which the radioactive source is removed between treatments. Also called high-dose-rate remote brachytherapy and high-dose-rate remote radiation therapy.

research nurse

A nurse who acts as a link between a clinical trial's participant, doctor and the trial itself. The research nurse provides information, answers questions, and collects and reports data throughout the trial.