Glossary

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Adenocarcinoma
A type of cervical cancer developed from the mucus-producing gland cells of the endocervix. Adenocarcinomas originate from glands and make up about 10-20% of cervical cancers.
Adenosquamous Carcinomas or Mixed Carcinomas
A term used when a cancer has characteristics of both squamous cell carcinomas and adenocarcinomas.
Adjuvant Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy used as an additional treatment in cases where the cancer is thought to be completely removed by a primary treatment, usually surgery, but statistically there is a chance of recurrence. Radiation and chemotherapy can be used as primary and/or adjuvant treatments depending on the condition, recommendation and personal decision made by the patient.
Advanced Breast Biopsy Instrument (ABBI)
A tool that can be used during a core needle biopsy. The ABBI uses a rotating circular knife to remove a larger cylinder of tissue for examination. The ABBI procedure removes more tissue than other types of biopsies and is performed using local anesthesia.
Anticancer Drugs
Drugs used to destroy or disable cancer cells.
Areola
The darker circle of skin around the nipple of the breast.
Arteries
Blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the different tissues of the body.
Atypical Hyperplasia
An increase in the number of cells causing some type of an enlargement or abnormality. Atypical hyperplasia can be related to inflammation, hormones, or cancer. Even if the condition is not cancer at the time of diagnosis, the diagnosis itself increases future risk for cancer.
Axillary Lymph Node Dissection
A surgical procedure involving the removal of lymph nodes from under the arm, referred to as the axilla. This procedure helps the provider determine the best course of treatment for the cancer based on the absence or presence of tumor cells in the lymph nodes. The procedure can be done at the same time as a mastectomy and during or after a lumpectomy.
Axillary Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes found in the armpit region, referred to as the axilla, that drain lymph channels from the breast.
BRCA1
A gene that, when mutated, confers a high risk of hereditary breast and ovary cancer.
BRCA2
A gene that, when mutated, confers a high risk of hereditary breast and ovary cancer.
Barium Enema
A series of X-rays of the large intestine, to include the colon and rectum. An enema with a barium solution, a contrast medium, is given to visualize the intestine on the X-rays.
Benign
A condition that is noncancerous, meaning it does not invade surrounding tissue, and usually does not grow rapidly or spread to other organs. Benign conditions are often mild and not life-threatening.
Biological Therapy
A type of cancer treatment that works with the body’s immune system. It can help fight cancer or help control side effects from other cancer treatments like chemotherapy.
Bilateral Salpingo-oophorectomy
A surgical procedure to remove both ovaries and the fallopian tubes. This procedure can be done laproscopically, or using an open abdominal or vaginal approach, and is frequently performed with the removal of the uterus (hysterectomy).
Biopsy
The removal of cells, tissue or fluid to be inspected by a pathologist for absence or presence of cancer cells. This procedure can be performed in a variety of ways including incisional, excisional, core needle biopsy, or needle aspiration.
Bladder
The organ in the pelvis that stores urine produced by the kidneys until it is excreted via urination.
Breast(s)
The mammary gland, composed mostly of fatty tissue and a complex network of ducts formed by lobules, which produce milk in females during lactation.
Breast-Conserving Surgery
A procedure designed to remove breast cancer but not the entire breast. It is also called breast-sparing surgery, lumpectomy, segmental mastectomy, and partial mastectomy.
Breast Reconstruction
The rebuilding of the contour of the breast, along with the nipple and areola. There are two main types of reconstruction, including saline breast implants and muscle flap reconstruction. In saline implants, a tissue expander is placed beneath the skin and chest muscle to stretch the skin before the implants are inserted. Muscle flap reconstruction involves using tissue taken from the patient’s back, stomach or buttocks to rebuild the contour of the breast.
Breast-Sparing Surgery
A procedure designed to remove breast cancer but not the entire breast. It is also called breast-conserving surgery, lumpectomy, segmental mastectomy, and partial mastectomy.
CA-125
An abbreviation for Cancer Antigen, a tumor marker that may be elevated in the blood of some people with specific types of cancers.
Calcifications
Tiny mineral deposits within the breast tissue that appear as small white spots on the films of a mammogram, categorized as microcalcifications or macrocalcifications.
Carcinoma
Refers to any cancer that begins in the skin or other tissues known as epithelial cells that line or cover internal organs. Carcinoma is a malignant condition.
Carcinoma in situ
Generally a precursor to carcinoma, characterized by its lack of invasiveness to the surrounding tissues and organs.
Cervical Biopsy
A biopsy that involves the removal of tissue from the cervix to look for precancerous cells or cancer cells.
Cervical Cancer
A carcinoma most frequently related to the Human Papilloma Virus. This condition usually has no symptoms until its advanced stages, which is why early detection by Pap smear is vital to optimal outcomes.
Cervical Dysplasia
A precancerous abnormality of the cells found on the surface of the cervix. Dysplasia is detected by Pap smear and is most commonly associated with the following risk factors: early onset of sexual activity, multiple sex partners, HPV, cigarette smoking, and HIV.
Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN)
Precancerous changes in the cervix.
Cervical Polyps
Small, soft growths that protrude from the mouth of the cervix. They are very common and occur most often during pregnancy as a result of hormonal changes.
Cervicitis
An inflammation of the cervix usually caused by infection. Cervicitis can also be caused by chemical irritation; devices such as a pessary or diaphragm, or an allergy to spermacide or latex; STDs and bacteria.
Cervix
The narrow, lower portion of the uterus.
Chemotherapy
A single drug or a combination of drugs used to treat cancer. These drugs are designed to destroy cancer cells; however, chemotherapy also damages healthy cells, causing a variety of side effects.
Chest X-ray
An X-ray taken of the thorax to visualize structures for abnormalities.
Chocolate Cyst
An endometrioma that is filled with dark, reddish-brown blood.
Core Needle Biopsy (CNB)
A procedure using a hollow needle to extract a sample of a lump or other suspicious tissue for examination.
Colonoscopy
An exam where a long, lighted tube is inserted into the rectum and colon. It may provide a visual diagnosis and opportunity for removal of suspect lesions.
Colorectal Cancer
A disease in which cancerous growths (tumors) are found in the tissues of the colon and/or rectum. Colorectal cancer can develop from precancerous polyps.
Colposcopy
A diagnostic exam using a device called a colposcope to examine the cervix, vagina, and vulva. The colposcope combines a bright light with a magnifying lens to enhance the visibility of suspicious or abnormal tissues that are usually biopsied at the time of the exam.
Computerized Tomography Scans (CT Scan)
A diagnostic imaging test using computers to create three-dimensional or cross-sectional images from a large series of two-dimensional X-ray images. CT Scans may be performed with or without oral or intravenous contrast to enhance visualization.
Conization
Also known as a cone biopsy, conization involves the surgical removal of a cone-shaped sample of tissue from the cervix for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.
Corpus Luteum
The result of the rupture of an ovarian follicle during the luteal stage of the menstrual cycle; a collection of blood due to rupture.
Cryocautery
The freezing of the cervix to remove abnormal tissue, also called cryosurgery.
Cryosurgery
A procedure that uses extreme cold to destroy abnormal tissues most often using liquid nitrogen.
Curette
A spoon-shaped instrument.
Cyst
A sac or capsule in the body. It may be filled with fluid, gaseous, or semisolid material.
Cystadenomas
Cysts that develop from cells on the outer surface of the ovary.
Cystectomy
Removal of a cyst; also the medical term for surgical removal of all or part of the urinary bladder.
Cystosarcoma Phyllodes
Both benign and malignant phyllodes tumors.

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Debulking Surgery
The surgical removal of as much of a malignant tumor as possible when it cannot be completely removed.
Dermoid Cysts
Cysts that are made up of different kinds of tissue from other parts of the body, such as skin, hair, fat, and teeth.
Diagnostic Mammograms
A mammogram performed to evaluate the breast due to symptoms. In most cases, the diagnostic mammogram provides standard views of the breast as well as supplemental views in relation to the complaint or symptoms. The diagnostic films are frequently viewed prior to the patient departing the office to discuss outcomes and potential procedures and/or treatments if indicated.
Diethylstilbestrol (DES)
The earliest synthetic form of the hormone estrogen that was prescribed to pregnant women between about 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriages. In women that have taken DES, there may be an increased risk of uterine, ovarian, or breast cancer. In daughters of women who have taken DES during their pregnancy, there is an increased risk of clear cell carcinoma of the vagina or cervix.
Dilation and Curettage (D&C)
A procedure to remove tissue from the cervical canal or the inner lining of the uterus. The cervix is dilated (made larger) and a curette (spoon-shaped instrument) is inserted into the uterus to remove tissue. This procedure is usually performed to obtain tissue samples, to stop prolonged bleeding, to remove small tumors or to remove fragments of placenta after a miscarriage.
Duct Ectasia
Widening of the ducts of the breast that are often related to breast inflammation. This is a benign condition characterized by nipple discharge, swelling, retraction of the nipple, or a lump that can be felt.
Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS)
One of the earliest stages of breast cancer. This is a form of breast cancer in which carcinoma, or abnormal cells, are found in the lining of a breast duct. “In situ” means that the abnormal cells have not spread outside of the duct to other tissues in the breast.
Ductal System
The network of lobules that produce milk and ducts that carry the milk through ductal branches to the nipple. Each breast normally has on average five to ten ductal systems.
Ductogram
A diagnostic test where contrast dye is injected into a specific duct through a small needle or catheter, which allows the provider an enhanced view of the ducts via x-ray.
Ducts
The tubes that transport milk to the nipple during feeding and link the lobes together.
Dysplasia
An abnormal development of cells or tissues. This is a precancerous condition that may or may not develop into cancer.
Ectocervix
The part of the cervix closest to the vagina.
Endocervical Curettage
A technique for obtaining a biopsy of the cervix where the provider uses a small, spoon-shaped instrument called a curette, or a soft, thin brush to scrape a small sample of tissue from the cervical canal.
Endocervix
The part of the cervix closest to the uterus.
Endometrial Cancer
A type of uterine cancer, which starts in the cells lining the uterus.
Endometrial Hyperplasia
A condition that occurs when the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, thickens from increased production of endometrial cells. Despite being a benign condition it is a significant risk factor for the development of endometrial cancer.
Endometrioma
A cyst that forms when endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus; frequently found in the ovaries or on the perineum, which is the space between the uterus and rectum. An endometrioma is also known as a “chocolate cyst” because it is filled with dark, reddish-brown blood.
Endometriosis
A condition where the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows in other areas of the body. This may cause pain, irregular bleeding, and infertility.
Endometrium
The inner lining of the uterus.
Excisional Biopsy
A surgical biopsy used to remove an entire lesion or suspicious area as well as some surrounding tissue.
Estrogen
A female hormone, produced mostly in the ovaries. It is essential for the healthy development and functioning of the female reproductive system, in keeping bones strong, and brain cells healthy.
External Radiation Therapy
Outpatient treatments providing external beam radiation locally directed from a machine aimed toward the affected area or organ to treat cancer.
Fallopian Tubes
The fallopian tube transports the egg from the ovary to the uterus. There are two fallopian tubes, one connecting to each ovary. Fertilization (joining of female egg with male sperm) takes place within the fallopian tubes.
Fibroadenomas
Benign tumors made up of both glandular breast tissue and supporting, or stromal, tissue.
Fibrocystic
Refers to the fact that both fibrosis and cysts are often present in the breast.
Fibrocystic Changes
This condition used to be called “fibrocystic disease,” but in recent years it has been more accurately referred to as a “change” instead of a disease. A benign condition, fibrocystic changes are characterized by breast tenderness, pain, lumps, burning and, at times, itching. These changes may occur in relationship to normal hormonal changes and the menstrual cycle.
Fibromyoma
Benign growths of the uterus formed from a mix of muscle and fibrous tissues; also known as uterine fibroid.
Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy (FNAB)
A test that uses a thin needle to remove fluid or a small amount of tissue from a lump or abnormal area of the affected site.
Functional Ovarian Cyst
An ovarian cyst that develops from tissue that changes in the normal process of ovulation. There are two types of functional cysts: follicular and corpus luteal cysts.
Fundus
The dome-shaped top of the uterus.
Glandular Tissue
Tissue that produces or secretes a substance and comprises a gland; any tissue that is made from gland cells.
Granular Cell Tumors
A tumor rarely found in the breast that is approximately ½ to 1 inch across, and feels like a firm, movable lump. Granular cell tumors are more frequently found on extremities, trunk, head and neck, but can be found anywhere.
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Hodgkin's lymphoma is a malignancy (cancer) of lymph tissue found in the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, and bone marrow.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
A system of medical treatment involving the administration of a series of drugs to artificially boost hormone levels or act as a replacement for the hormone.
Hormone Therapy
Involves administering medications designed to inhibit the growth of cancer cells by blocking the hormones that the cells need to grow.
Hormonal Therapy
Involves administering substances that prevent cancer cells from receiving or using the hormones that they need to grow.
Hormone Receptors
Proteins that hormones can attach to. A hormone receptor test measures the amount of certain proteins in cancer tissue. A high level of hormone receptors may mean that hormones help the cancer grow.
Human Papilloma Viruses (HPVs)
HPVs are a group of viruses that include more than 100 different strains or types. More than 30 of these viruses are sexually transmitted, and they can infect the genital area of both men and women.
Hysterectomy
Surgery to remove both the cervix and the uterus.
Hysteroscope
A device used to remove uterine polyps.

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In situ
Refers to the stage in which abnormal cells have not spread or invaded other tissues. In breast cancer, in situ means that the cancer has not spread to breast tissues outside of the duct.
Infertility
The inability to become pregnant after a year of trying and/or the inability to carry a pregnancy to term.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Also classified as Stage III breast cancer, this is where the cancer has spread to the breast skin, causing swelling and redness.
Internal Radiation Therapy
A form of therapy in which a radiation source is placed inside the body.
Intraductal Papillomas
Unusual growths of gland tissue, fibrous tissue and blood vessels. These small tumors are often found in the large milk ducts near the nipple, and can cause bloody discharge from the nipple. Intraductal papillomas are also found in small ducts in areas of the breast further from the nipple.
Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy
A procedure in which drugs are given directly into the abdomen and pelvis through a thin tube. The drugs destroy or control cancer in the abdomen and pelvis. This form of treatment is rarely used.
Invasive
Tending to spread; for example, invasive cancer often spreads to healthy tissue.
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)
A condition in which ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, becomes a more aggressive form of cancer.
Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC)
Invasive means that the cancer has "invaded" or spread to the surrounding tissues. This type of cancer is called lobular because the cancer begins in the lobules of the breast, which are the glands that produce milk. Carcinoma refers to any cancer that begins in the skin or other tissues that line or cover internal organs.
Laparoscopy
Also known as minimally invasive surgery, this is a surgical technique in which operations are performed through small incisions. Tiny cameras are inserted through the incision and used to transmit images to a video monitor.
Laparotomy
A procedure where tissue and fluid are removed from the pelvis and abdomen.
Laser Surgery
A procedure used to vaporize abnormal tissues.
Leiomyomas
Uterine fibroids, also called fibromyomas or myomas.
Lesions
An abnormal change in the structure of an organ or body part due to an injury or disease.
Lobular
Relating to the lobules of the breast, which are the glands that produce milk.
Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS)
Abnormal growth of cells in the lobules of the breast. Carcinoma refers to any cancer that begins in the skin or other tissues that line or cover internal organs. “In situ” refers to the fact that the carcinoma, or cancer, has not spread beyond the site of origin.
Lobules
Glands located in the breast where milk is produced before and after childbirth.
Local Therapy
Therapy designed to treat a specific locality or area of the body. For example, surgery and local radiation therapy are used to treat breast cancer, to remove or destroy the cancer in the breast.
Locally Advanced Breast Cancer
Cancer that has spread to large parts of the breast or the nearby lymph nodes but not to distant organs.
Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)
A biopsy where the provider uses an electric wire loop to slice off a thin, round piece of tissue.
Lump
An irregularly shaped mass or piece of tissue.
Lumpectomy
A surgery to remove only the part of the breast containing the tumor (the “lump”) and some of the normal tissue that surrounds it.
Lymph Nodes
Bean-shaped structures scattered along vessels of the lymphatic system. Lymph nodes remove cell waste and fluids from the lymphatic system, and help fight infections.
Lymphatic System
The system of lymph nodes and the vessels or small tubes, which connect them. Lymph nodes are located throughout the body, filtering out dangerous substances and producing infection-fighting cells called lymphocytes.
Lymphedema
A condition where fluid builds up in the arm and hand and causes swelling. Lymphedema often occurs after the removal of the lymph nodes.
Macrocalcifications
Large calcium deposits found in the breasts caused by aging of the breast arteries, past injuries, or inflammation. They generally are associated with benign conditions and usually do not require a biopsy.
Macrocysts
Large cysts.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
A test that uses a powerful magnet linked to a computer to make detailed pictures. Providers can view these pictures on a monitor or print them on film.
Malignant
Cancer that tends to invade and destroy nearby tissue and possibly spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
Malignant Germ Cell Tumor
Cancer that starts in a woman’s egg cells or a man’s sperm cells.
Mammary Ducts
Ducts that drain the lobes of the mammary gland at the nipple.
Mammography
A screening or diagnostic exam conducted using low dose X-ray and compressing breast tissue to evaluate for tissue abnormalities such as cysts, tumors or calcifications.
Mammotome
Also known as a vacuum-assisted biopsy. During this procedure, a provider inserts a tube into the breast tissue and then uses suction to draw a cylinder of breast tissue into the tube. At the same time, a small rotating knife cuts and removes the tissue for examination. The needle is inserted only once and rotates to get the needed cores.
Margin
A small amount of healthy surrounding tissue.
Masses
Tumors or abnormal growth of tissue that can be either malignant or benign.
Mastitis
An inflammation of the mammary gland usually caused by infection. Mastitis often affects women who are breast-feeding or those who have had a break or crack in the skin. The dry and cracked skin around the nipple can allow bacteria from the skin surface to enter the breast duct. Once in the duct, the bacteria can grow and cause redness and inflammation. The inflamed cells release substances that fight the infection, but those substances can also cause swelling and increased blood flow in the affected tissue. These changes often cause the surrounding area to be painful and the skin to become red and warm to the touch.
Medical Oncologist
A physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and biological therapy.
Menopause
A term commonly used to refer to the period ending the female reproductive phase of life; the end of menstruation.
Menstrual Cycle
When the uterine lining of a female is shed on a monthly basis. Also known as a period.
Metastasis
When cancer cells have broken away from the primary tumor and spread to other organs in the body through the blood stream or the lymphatic system.
Metastatic Cancer
When a cancer spreads (metastasizes) from its original site to another area of the body.
Microcalcifications
Smaller deposits of calcium in the breast that may appear alone or in clusters.
Microcysts
Fluid that builds up inside the glands of the breast, initially forming small cysts that are detectable only when breast tissue is examined under a microscope.
Modified Radical Mastectomy
A type of surgical treatment for breast cancer. Using this technique, the surgeon removes the whole breast, and most or all of the lymph nodes under the arm. Often, the lining over the chest muscles is also removed. Other small chest muscles are sometimes removed to allow for easier access to the lymph nodes.
Myomas
Benign growths or tumors of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years. Also known as uterine fibroids.
Myometrium
The outer layer of muscle tissue of the uterus.

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Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy
A process where chemotherapy may be used before surgery in women with larger tumors.
Nerves
Fibers containing nerve cells that conduct electrical impulses (messages) from the brain and spinal cord to all other parts of the body.
Omentum
The thin, fatty pad of tissue that covers the intestines.
Oncology
The study of the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Ova
A female egg.
Ovarian Biopsy
A surgical procedure to determine if an ovarian mass is cancerous by removing and testing a tissue sample.
Ovarian Cancer
A cancer that develops in a woman’s ovaries. There are three main types of ovarian cancers: ovarian epithelial carcinomas, malignant germ cell tumors and stromal cell carcinomas.
Ovarian Cysts
A collection of fluid surrounded by a thin wall within the ovaries. Cysts can vary in size and are usually benign.
Ovarian Epithelial Carcinomas
Ovarian cancer that begins in the cells on the surface of the ovary.
Ovarian Follicle
A cavity in the ovary that contains a developing egg surrounded by a covering of cells.
Ovarian Tumors
An abnormal growth of tissue in or on an ovary.
Ovaries
The part of the female reproductive system that produces eggs (ova) and that manufactures female hormones. The ovaries are located in the pelvis. Each ovary is similar in size and shape to an almond.
Ovulation
The process in the menstrual cycle when a mature ovarian follicle discharges an egg for reproduction.
Pap Smear or Pap Test
A Papanicolaou (Pap) smear or test is a screening test to detect cervical cancer or other cervical diseases and conditions. Cells are taken from the cervix and examined under a microscope to identify abnormalities.
Partial Mastectomy
Also called segmental mastectomy. This procedure involves the removal of the cancer, the breast tissue around the tumor, and the lining over the chest muscles below the tumor. Usually some of the lymph nodes under the arm are also removed.
Pectoralis
A large muscle located between the breast and the rib cage.
Pedunculated Uterine Fibroid
A fibroid that hangs by a stalk inside or outside the uterus.
Pelvic Exam
An exam during which a provider examines a woman’s vagina, uterus, ovaries, bladder, and rectum. In order to examine the upper part of the vagina and the cervix, the provider opens the vagina using a device called a speculum. This allows for a visual inspection and provides the opportunity to perform additional tests, such as cultures or Pap tests. During the pelvic exam, the provider will feel the uterus, checking for any lumps or changes in its size or shape.
Pelvic Ultrasound
A test that uses sound waves to produce an electronic image of the organs of the pelvis.
Pelvis
Bone structure formed by the bones of the hips and lower part of the spine. The pelvis is a bowl-shaped ring of bone that connects the legs to the spine and protects reproductive and digestive organs.
Pessary
A supportive device that can be used to treat uterine prolapse. This device is inserted into the vagina to hold the uterus in place.
Phyllodes Tumors
These tumors develop from the tissues between the lobules of the breast, also known as the intralobular stroma.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Characterized by ovaries that are two to five times larger than normal ovaries, polycystic ovaries usually have a white, thick, tough outer covering.
Postmenopausal
After menopause.
Premenopausal
Before menopause.
Progesterone
A female sex hormone that is released by the ovaries during every menstrual cycle to prepare the uterus for pregnancy and the breasts for milk production (lactation).
Progestin
The artificial form of progesterone that can be taken by mouth or injection as a hormonal supplement.
Prolactin
A pituitary hormone that stimulates the secretion of breast milk.
Prolapse
A condition that occurs when a part of the body slips from its normal position.
Prosthesis
an artificial device to replace or augment a missing or impaired part of the body. A breast form is an example of a prosthesis.
Punch Biopsy
a procedure where a provider uses a sharp, hollow device to pinch off small samples of cervical tissue for testing.
Radiation Oncologist
A physician who specializes in the use of radiation to treat cancerous or non-cancerous tumors. A radiation oncologist reviews the medical findings with the patient and discusses treatment options and the benefits of radiation as well as the possible side effects.
Radiation Therapy
A treatment that uses targeted, high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It affects cancer cells only in the treated area.
Rectum
The last six to eight inches of the large intestine, which stores solid waste from the colon until it is expelled from the body through the anus.
Risk Factor
Something that increases a person’s chance of developing a disease.
Scleroderma
An autoimmune disease in which the skin thickens and hardens; sometimes other parts of the body are affected and joint pain may result.
Screening Mammograms
A screening mammogram is an X-ray of the breast used to detect breast changes in women who have no signs or symptoms of breast cancer. Normally the screening mammogram provides standard views of the breast bilaterally. Screening mammograms have identified breast cancer prior to the patient experiencing any symptoms and have proven effective as a means of early detection, leading to early intervention and thus better clinical outcomes for the patient.
Segmental Mastectomy
A surgical procedure for the removal of breast cancer, as well as some of the breast tissue around the cancer and the lining over the chest muscles below the cancer. Usually some of the lymph nodes under the arm are also removed. A segmental mastectomy is sometimes called partial mastectomy.
Self Examination
An exam regularly performed by a woman to check for lumps or other changes to her own breasts.
Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
A type of biopsy used to check for cancer cells in the lymph nodes. This technique uses dye and a radioactive marker to identify the lymph nodes at highest risk for containing metastatic cells.
Sigmoidoscopy
A diagnostic procedure that uses a flexible viewing tube to allow the provider to view the inner walls of the colon. During this procedure, a tube is gently passed into the colon through the anus.
Sonogram
Also known as an ultrasound, this is an imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves.
Stages of Breast Cancer
The stage of breast cancer refers to how extensive the cancer is, on a scale from stage 0 to stage IV. The stage of breast cancer is based on the size of the tumor and whether or not the cancer has spread.
Stereotactic Biopsy
A computerized mammography machine that uses intersecting coordinates to pinpoint the lump or area of tissue abnormality. The tissue is removed and examined under a microscope.
Stromal Cell Carcinoma
A type of ovarian cancer that starts in the supporting (stromal) cells of the ovary.
Stromal Tissues
The connective tissue of an organ, gland, or other structure, as distinguished from the tissues performing the special function of the organ or part.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
A type of cervical cancer that most often begins where the ectocervix joins the endocervix.
Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion (SIL)
Precancerous changes in the cervix.
Submucosal Fibroids
Fibroids that grow into the inner cavity of the uterus.
Subserosal Fibroids
Fibroids that project to the outside of the uterus.
Systemic Chemotherapy
A type of chemotherapy that is taken by mouth or injected into a vein. The drugs enter the bloodstream and destroy or control cancer throughout the body. Usually, more than one drug is given, and chemotherapy is given in cycles. Each treatment period is followed by a rest period. The length of the rest period and the number of cycles depends on the specific type of cancer, and the anticancer drugs used.
Systemic Lupus
An autoimmune disease that can involve the organs and joints.
Systemic Therapy
Treatment that affects the entire body, rather than a localized area. Types of systemic therapy include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and biological therapy. Systemic therapy enters the bloodstream to destroy or control cancer throughout the body. Some women with breast cancer have systemic therapy to shrink the tumor before having surgery or radiation. More commonly, women have systemic therapy after surgery or radiation to prevent the cancer from recurring.
Tamoxifen
An anticancer drug that blocks the effects of estrogen on many organs, such as the breast. Estrogen promotes the growth of some breast and uterine cancers. Recent research suggests that tamoxifen may lower the risk of breast cancer in women with certain risk factors.
Targeted Therapy
The use of special drugs and other substances to attack specific molecular features or pathways involved in the development of cancer. Unlike chemotherapy drugs, targeted therapies can destroy cancer cells with minimal damage to the surrounding healthy cells.
Transvaginal Ultrasound
An ultrasound test during which the provider inserts a special wand into the vagina. This instrument emits high frequency sound waves aimed at the uterus. The sound waves bounce back to the wand and are used to form a picture that helps the provider identify abnormalities in the uterus.
Traumatic Fat Necrosis
A condition in which painless, round, firm lumps caused by damaged and disintegrating fatty tissues form in the breast. This is usually the result of injury to the breast. Necrosis can sometimes occur after surgery or radiation therapy, as a result of the body trying to repair the damage to the breast by forming scar tissue.
Tumor
A mass or lump of tissue made of abnormal cells that may eventually spread, or metastasize.
Ultrasound
Also known as a sonogram, an ultrasound is an imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to visualize structures inside the body. Ultrasound imaging allows providers and patients to get an inside view of soft tissues and body cavities, without using invasive techniques.
Urethritis
An inflammation of the urethra.
Uterus
Part of a woman’s reproductive system. It is a hollow, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows during pregnancy. The uterus is positioned in the pelvis between the bladder and the rectum.
Uterine Cancer
The most common cancer of the female pelvic reproductive system. Uterine cancer forms in the tissues of the uterus. Two types of uterine cancer are endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma.
Uterine Fibroids
Benign growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years. Uterine fibroids are also called fibromyomas, leiomyomas or myomas, and are not usually associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer.
Uterine Polyps
Areas in the uterus where the lining, also called the endometrium, becomes overgrown and forms a mass referred to as a polyp. Uterine polyps can range in size from as small as a pinhead to the size of a ping pong ball or even larger.
Uterine Prolapse
The condition where the uterus has dropped from its position within the pelvis into the vagina. Normally, the uterus is held in place by the muscles and ligaments that make up the pelvic floor. Uterine prolapse results when pelvic floor muscles and ligaments weaken, providing inadequate support for the uterus. The uterus then descends into the vaginal canal.
Uterine Sarcoma
A rare cancer that begins in muscle or other tissues in the uterus.
Vacuum-Assisted Biopsy
Also called a Mammotome biopsy. During this procedure, a surgeon inserts a tube larger than those used in a typical core needle biopsy into the breast tissue. The provider then uses suction to draw a cylinder of breast tissue into the tube, and a small rotating knife cuts and removes the tissue for examination. The needle is inserted only once and rotates to get the needed cores.
Vagina
The muscular canal extending from the uterus to the exterior of the body. Also known as the birth canal.
Vein
A blood vessel that carries blood toward the heart.
Virilization
Development of male sex characteristics in a female.
Watchful Waiting
A passive technique used to determine whether cancer is growing slowly and not causing symptoms. The patient and the provider will carefully monitor the condition with regular physical exams and tests.
Wire Localization
A procedure used during a breast biopsy to help locate the lump or area of interest, especially if the lump is too small to locate by touch. After numbing the area with local anesthesia, a thin hollow needle is placed into the breast and X-ray pictures are taken to guide the needle to the suspicious area. A thin wire is placed through the center of the needle. A small hook at the end of the wire keeps it in place. The hollow needle is then removed and the surgeon uses the wire as a guide to locate the abnormal area to be removed.