Words to Know
A chemotherapy medicine used to treat metastatic breast cancer. It is also being studied in the treatment of early-stage breast cancer. Abraxane is a type of mitotic inhibitor. Also called ABI-007, nanoparticle paclitaxel, paclitaxel albumin-stabilized nanoparticle formulation, and protein-bound paclitaxel.
A measure of the risk of a certain event happening. In cancer research, an example of an 'absolute risk' can include the statistical likelihood that a cancer-free person of a given age will develop that cancer over a certain period of time. For example, a woman 35 years of age with no known risk factors for breast cancer has a 13.5 percent absolute risk of getting breast cancer, over a lifetime of 90 years.
An abbreviation for a chemotherapy combination treatment used in breast cancer. It contains doxorubicin hydrochloride (Adriamycin) and cyclophosphamide, followed by treatment with paclitaxel (Taxol) and trastuzumab (Herceptin). Also called AC-T-T, AC-TH regimen, and sequential AC/Taxol-Trastuzumab regimen.
An abbreviation for a chemotherapy combination treatment used in breast cancer. It contains doxorubicin hydrochloride (Adriamycin) and cyclophosphamide, followed by treatment with paclitaxel (Taxol) and trastuzumab (Herceptin). Also called AC-T-T, AC-T-T regimen, and sequential AC/Taxol-Trastuzumab regimen.
accelerated partial-breast irradiation
A type of radiation therapy given only to the part of the breast that has cancer in it. Accelerated partial-breast irradiation gives a higher dose over a shorter time than is given in standard whole-breast radiation therapy. Accelerated partial-breast irradiation may be given with internal or external sources of radiation. Also called partial-breast irradiation.
Applying pressure or local massage to specific sites on the body to control symptoms such as pain or nausea. It is a type of complementary or integrative medicine, meaning a treatment used in addition to standard therapies. Some women affected by breast cancer find acupressure helpful in decreasing nausea and other side effects of treatment.
A type of complementary or integrative medicine, meaning a treatment used in addition to standard therapies. Treatment with acupuncture involves inserting thin needles through the skin at specific points on the body to control pain or make other symptoms of breast cancer treatment or of the disease itself go away. Some women affected by breast cancer find it useful in controlling nausea and other side effects of chemotherapy treatment.
acupuncture point injection
Using mild electric currents on certain acupuncture points (spots on the body where an acupuncture needle may be inserted to control pain and other symptoms) on the skin. It is being studied in the treatment of dry mouth caused by radiation therapy for cancer. Also called acupuncture-like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (ALTENS).
A legal document that states the treatment or care a person wishes to receive or not receive if she becomes unable to make medical decisions (for example, because of being unconscious or in a coma). Some types of advance directives are living wills and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders.
advanced practice nurse
A registered nurse with additional education and training in how to diagnose and treat disease. Advanced practice nurses are licensed by the state and certified by national nursing organizations. In cancer care, an advanced practice nurse may manage the primary care of an individual and her or his family, based on a practice agreement with a doctor. Also called APN, NP, and nurse practitioner.
Physical activity that increases the heart rate and the body's use of oxygen. It helps improve physical fitness. Aerobic exercise has been shown to help with treatment-related fatigue and insomnia. Exercise during breast cancer treatment has been shown to improve self-esteem and is being studied for its effectiveness in helping with other side effects such as chemobrain, or problems with thinking and memory.
In cancer prevention, a clinical trial that studies whether taking certain medicines, vitamins, minerals or food supplements can prevent cancer. Also called chemoprevention study. Examples of agent studies include clinical trials for tamoxifen and letrozole, as well as lifestyle changes such as diet.
AJCC staging system
A system developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer in which TNM is used to describe the extent of cancer in the body. T describes the size of the tumor and whether it has invaded nearby tissue. N describes whether cancer has traveled to nearby lymph nodes, and M describes whether cancer has metastasized (spread to distant parts of the body, such as the bone, liver, lungs or brain). Also called TNM staging system.
Also called fexofenadine, 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 given as pretreatment when using paclitaxel, a chemotherapy agent. Antihistamines can prevent hypersensitivity reactions with paclitaxel use, such as decreased blood pressure and impaired breathing.
Another term for 'mainstream medicine,' also called biomedicine, conventional medicine, orthodox medicine, and Western medicine. Allopathic medicine is the system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals treat symptoms and diseases using medicines, radiation, or surgery.
The lack or loss of hair from areas of the body where hair is usually found. Alopecia can be a side effect of some cancer treatments, including doxorubicin (Adriamycin) and paclitaxel (Taxol). Some breast cancer medicines cause only thinning or partial hair loss, and others cause no hair loss at all.
A loss of feeling or awareness caused by medicines or other substances. Anesthesia keeps a person from feeling pain during surgery or other procedures. Local anesthesia is a loss of feeling in one small area of the body. Regional anesthesia is a loss of feeling in a part of the body, such as an arm or leg. General anesthesia is a loss of feeling and a complete loss of awareness that feels like a very deep sleep.
A medicine used to treat symptoms of anxiety, such as feelings of fear, dread, uneasiness and muscle tightness, which may contribute to pain associated with breast cancer. Most antianxiety medicines block the action of certain chemicals in the nervous system. Also called anxiolytic and anxiolytic agent. Examples of anti-anxiety medicines are diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan).
antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity
A type of immune reaction in which a target cell or microbe is coated with antibodies and killed by certain types of white blood cells. The white blood cells bind to the antibodies and release substances that kill the target cells or microbes. Medicines used in breast cancer treatment, such as paclitaxel, enhance this process.
A medicine used manage symptoms of depression and anxiety that may be caused by some breast cancer treatments. Some antidepressants - paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), and bupropion (Wellbutrin) - may interact with breast cancer treatments like tamoxifen, prescribed to reduce the risk of breast cancer returning in those with hormone-positive cancers.
A registered nurse who has additional education and training in how to diagnose and treat disease. APNs are licensed at the state level and certified by national nursing organizations. In cancer care, an APN may manage the primary care of individuals and families, based on a practice agreement with a doctor. Also called advanced practice nurse, NP, and nurse practitioner.
Brand name for exemestane. A medicine used to treat advanced breast cancer and to prevent recurrent breast cancer in postmenopausal women who have already been treated with tamoxifen. Aromasin causes a decrease in the amount of estrogen made by the body. It is a type of aromatase inhibitor.
atypical ductal hyperplasia
A benign (not cancerous) condition in which there are more cells than normal in the lining of breast ducts and the cells look abnormal under a microscope. Having atypical ductal hyperplasia increases the risk of breast cancer. Also called ADH and atypical ductal breast hyperplasia.
atypical lobular hyperplasia
A benign (not cancerous) condition in which there are more cells than normal in the breast lobules and the cells look abnormal under a microscope. Having atypical lobular hyperplasia increases the risk of breast cancer. Also called ALH and atypical lobular breast hyperplasia.
The act of staying away from people, places, and thoughts that may cause anxiety, pain, or unpleasant feelings. Some types of cancer-related avoidance include refusing to accept a cancer diagnosis or to get treatment, and using alcohol or other drugs to forget about having cancer, all of which are harmful.