Words to Know

TAC regimen

Also called TAC. An abbreviation for a chemotherapy combination used with other types of therapy to treat breast cancer. It includes the medicines docetaxel (Taxotere), doxorubicin hydrochloride (Adriamycin), and cyclophosphamide.

tai chi

A form of traditional Chinese mind/body exercise and meditation that uses slow sets of body movements and controlled breathing. Tai chi is done to improve balance, flexibility, muscle strength and overall health.

tailored intervention

The use of communication, medicines, or other types of treatments specific for an individual, or a group, to improve health or change behavior.

talk therapy

Also called psychotherapy. Treatment of mental, emotional, personality and behavioral disorders using methods such as discussion, listening and counseling.


Also called tamoxifen citrate. A medicine used to treat certain types of breast cancer in women and men. It is also used to prevent breast cancer in women who have had ductal carcinoma in situ (abnormal cells in the ducts of the breast), and in women who are at a high risk of developing breast cancer. Tamoxifen is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. It blocks the effects of the hormone estrogen in the breast. Tamoxifen is a type of antiestrogen.

targeted therapy

A type of treatment that uses medicines or other substances, such as monoclonal antibodies, to identify and attack specific cancer cells. Targeted therapy may have fewer side effects than other types of cancer treatments.


A type of medicine that blocks cell growth by stopping mitosis (cell division). Taxanes interfere with microtubules (cellular structures that help move chromosomes during mitosis). They are used to treat cancer. A taxane is a type of mitotic inhibitor and a type of antimicrotubule agent.


Also called paclitaxel. A medicine used to treat breast cancer. It blocks cell growth by stopping cell division and may kill cancer cells. It is a type of antimitotic agent.


Also called docetaxel. A medicine used together with other agents to treat certain types of breast cancer, stomach cancer, prostate cancer, and certain types of head and neck cancer. Taxotere is a type of mitotic inhibitor.

Tc 99m sulfur colloid

A substance used to find sentinel lymph nodes in breast cancer. It is also being studied as a way to find cancer in the body. It contains a radioactive substance called technetium linked to a substance called sulfur colloid. Sulfer colloid is taken up by special cells in lymph tissue, and in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow after it is injected. A machine or probe that detects radioactivity is used to find where the Tc 99m sulfur colloid is in the body.


A person trained in the techniques (methods) and skills of a profession. For example, a mammogram technician is trained to perform mammograms.

terminal disease

Disease that cannot be cured and will cause death.

therapeutic touch

Also called healing touch. A form of complementary and integrative medicine based on the belief that vital energy flows through the human body. This energy is said to be balanced or made stronger by practitioners who pass their hands over, or gently touch, a person's body. Therapeutic touch is being studied in individuals receiving cancer therapy to find out if it can improve quality of life, boost the immune system, or reduce side effects. Therapeutic touch is a type of energy therapy.


Having to do with treating disease and helping healing take place. In vaccine therapy, a therapeutic vaccine is intended for individuals already affected with an illness, while prophylactic (preventative) vaccines are intended to prevent the illness. Some therapeutic vaccines are being studied in the treatment of breast cancer.




In medicine, a procedure in which a heat-sensing infrared camera is used to record the surface heat produced by different parts of the body. Abnormal tissue growth can cause temperature changes, which may show up on the thermogram. Thermography may be used to diagnose breast cancer and other tumors.


A medicine used to prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting. It belongs to the families of medicine called antiemetics and phenothiazines.


An anticancer medicine that belongs to the family of agents called alkylating agents.

third-line therapy

Treatment that is given when both initial treatment (first-line therapy) and the next treatment (second-line therapy) don't work, or stop working.


Also called candidiasis, candidosis. A condition in which Candida albicans, a type of yeast, grows out of control in moist skin areas of the body. It is usually a result of a weakened immune system, but can be a side effect of chemotherapy or treatment with antibiotics or corticosteroid medicine. Thrush usually affects the mouth (oral thrush). Rarely, it spreads throughout the entire body.

time to progression

A measure of time after a disease is diagnosed (or treated) until the disease starts to get worse.


A disorder in which a person hears noises such as buzzing, ringing, clicking, or the sound of a pulse, when no outside sound is causing them. Tinnitus may have many different causes, and may be a symptom of another disease or condition. It may be caused by certain tumors and anticancer medicines.

tissue flap reconstruction

A type of breast reconstruction in which a flap of tissue is surgically moved from another area of the body to the chest, and formed into a new breast mound. The different types of tissue flap surgery are named for the area of the body they are taken from: TRAM (transverse rectus abdominis muscle) flap; Latissimus dorsi (LD) flap; and DIEP (deep inferior epigastric artery perforator) flap.


A group or layer of cells that work together to perform a specific function.

TNM staging system

Also called AJCC staging system. A system developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) that uses 'TNM' to describe the extent of cancer in a individual's body. 'T' describes the size of the tumor and whether it has invaded nearby tissue. 'N' describes whether cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, and 'M' describes whether cancer has metastasized (spread to distant parts of the body). The TNM staging system is used to describe most types of cancer, including breast cancer.


A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are created by a computer linked to an X-ray machine.


Also called helical tomotherapy. A therapy that is being studied in the treatment of breast cancer in which radiation is aimed at a tumor from many different directions. The individual lays on a table and is moved through a donut-shaped machine. The radiation source in the machine rotates around the individual in a spiral pattern. Before radiation, a 3-dimensional (3-D) image of the tumor is taken. This helps doctors find the highest dose of radiation that can be used to kill tumor cells while causing less damage to nearby tissue. Tomotherapy is a type of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).

topical chemotherapy

Treatment with anticancer medicines in a lotion or cream applied to the skin.


On the surface of the body.

topoisomerase inhibitor

A substance that blocks topoisomerases (enzymes that break and rejoin DNA strands and are needed for cells to divide and grow). Blocking these enzymes may kill cancer cells. Certain topoisomerase inhibitors are being studied in the treatment of cancer.

total estrogen blockade

Therapy used to eliminate estrogen in the body. This may be done with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these procedures.

total mastectomy

Removal of the breast. Also called simple mastectomy.

total nodal irradiation

Radiation therapy to the mantle field, the spleen, the lymph nodes in the upper abdomen and the lymph nodes in the pelvic area.

total parenteral nutrition

Also called hyperalimentation, parenteral nutrition, TPN. A form of nutrition that is delivered into a vein. Total parenteral nutrition does not use the digestive system. It may be given to people who are unable to absorb nutrients through the intestinal tract because of vomiting that won't stop, severe diarrhea or intestinal disease. It may also be given to those undergoing high-dose chemotherapy or radiation and bone marrow transplantation. It is possible to give all of the protein, calories, vitamins and minerals a person needs using total parenteral nutrition.


The extent to which something is poisonous or harmful.


Having to do with poison or something harmful to the body. Toxic substances usually cause unwanted side effects.


A substance (such as a radioisotope) used in imaging procedures.

traditional acupuncture

Also called five element acupuncture. An ancient form of acupuncture based on the principle that there are five universal elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) that affect a person's emotions, personality, health and response to treatment. Each person is affected by one element more than the others.


A medicine that calms and soothes, and reduces stress and tension. Tranquilizers are used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Examples of pharmaceutical tranquilizers are Alprazolam (brand names, Xanax and Niravam) and lorazepam (brand name, Ativan).


Absorbed through the unbroken skin.


A procedure in which a person is given an infusion of whole blood or parts of blood. The blood may be donated by another person, or it may have been taken from the individual earlier and stored until needed. Also called blood transfusion.

transitional care

Support given to individuals when they move from one phase of disease or treatment to another, such as from hospital care to home care. It involves helping individuals and families with medical, practical, and emotional needs as they adjust to different levels and goals of care.

translational research

A term used to describe the process by which the results of research done in the lab are used to develop new ways to diagnose and treat disease.


Also called Herceptin. A monoclonal antibody that binds to HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2), and can kill HER2-positive breast cancer cells. Monoclonal antibodies are made in the laboratory and can locate and bind to substances in the body, including cancer cells. Trastuzumab is used to treat breast cancer that is HER2-positive and has spread after treatment with other medicines. It is also used with other anticancer medicines to treat HER2-positive breast cancer after surgery. Trastuzumab is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer.


Injury to the body, or an event that causes long-lasting mental or emotional damage.

treatment field

In radiation therapy, the place on the body where the radiation beam is aimed.


In medicine, a specific event that starts a process or that causes a particular outcome. For example, chemotherapy, painful treatments - or the smells, sounds, and sights that go with them - may trigger anxiety and fear in an individual affected with breast cancer.

trigger point acupuncture

Use of acupuncture to treat pain by inserting needles into trigger points on the body. Trigger points are places on the body where injury has occurred, but the pain has been sent along nerves and is felt in another place in the body.

triple-negative breast cancer

Describes breast cancer cells that do not have estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, or large amounts of HER2/neu protein. Also called ER-negative PR-negative HER2/neu-negative and ER-PR-HER2/neu-. Studies are underway to find additional treatments for triple-negative breast cancer.

tumescent mastectomy

A type of surgery to remove the breast. The breast is injected with a liquid mixture of salts and small amounts of two medicines. These medicines are lidocaine, to numb the area, and epinephrine, to narrow blood vessels and reduce bleeding. Tumescent mastectomy is usually used to treat elderly women affected with breast cancer.

tumor antigen vaccine

A vaccine made of cancer cells, parts of cancer cells, or pure tumor antigens (substances isolated from tumor cells). A tumor antigen vaccine may stimulate the body's immune system to find and kill cancer cells.

tumor board review

A treatment planning approach in which a number of doctors who are experts in different specialties (disciplines) review and discuss the medical condition and treatment options of an individual. In cancer treatment, a tumor board review may include that of a medical oncologist (who provides cancer treatment with medicines) a surgical oncologist (who provides cancer treatment with surgery), and a radiation oncologist (who provides cancer treatment with radiation). Also called multidisciplinary opinion.

tumor burden

Refers to the number of cancer cells, the size of a tumor, or the amount of cancer in the body. Also called tumor load.

tumor debulking

Also called debulking. Surgical removal of as much of a tumor as possible. Tumor debulking may increase the chance that chemotherapy or radiation therapy will kill all the tumor cells. It may also be done to relieve symptoms or help the individual live longer.

tumor load

Refers to the number of cancer cells, the size of a tumor, or the amount of cancer in the body. Also called tumor burden.

tumor marker

A substance that may be found in tumor tissue or released from a tumor into the blood or other body fluids. A high level of a tumor marker may mean that a certain type of cancer is in the body. Examples of tumor markers include CA 15-3 (in breast cancer) and CEA (in ovarian, lung, breast, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract cancers).

tumor volume

The size of a cancer measured by the amount of space taken up by the tumor.


Also called neoplasm. An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Tumors may be benign (noncancerous), or malignant (cancerous).


Also called lapatinib, lapatinib ditosylate. A medicine used with another anticancer agent to treat breast cancer that is HER2-positive and has advanced or metastasized (spread to other parts of the body) after treatment with other medicine.