beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

To find a doctor, call 800-667-5356 or click below:

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

left banner
right banner
Smaller Larger

Breast Cancer Glossary

Posted 6/24/2013

Posted in

  This is an extremely helpful link and resource: a breast cancer glossary prepared by Breast Cancer Campaign: Be Part of the Cure in the UK. Print this out or bookmark it or keep it someplace where you can easily find and reference it next time you are reading or listening and come across one of those words that mean nothing, but surely are important.

  As an example, here are the "As" and then a link to read more and save it:


Adjuvant treatment Any additional treatment given after the main treatment, which is usually surgery. Adjuvant
treatment is given to people with primary breast cancer to reduce the risk of cancer returning
and/or spreading from the breast and can include radiotherapy, chemotherapy, antihormone
therapy or targeted therapy. Read more on our Breast Cancer Treatment page
Advanced breast cancer

This term refers to breast cancer that has spread from the breast to other parts of the body.
Depending on how far the cancer has spread, advanced breast cancer can be either "locally
advanced" or metastatic. Locally advanced breast cancer is diagnosed if the breast tumour is
larger than 5cm, or if it has spread to the skin or the front of the chest. The lymph nodes under
the armpit might also be affected.
If the cancer has spread further into the body, for example to the liver or bone, this is known
as metastatic or secondary breast cancer. The tumours in sites other than the breast are
known as metastases (plural of metastasis), which is sometimes abbreviated to "mets".

Antihormone therapy

Sometimes referred to as "hormone therapy", this is a way of treating breast cancer by blocking
the effect of hormones, such as oestrogen. Some breast cancers are stimulated to grow by
oestrogen so drugs such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors are given to block the effects
of oestrogen.

Aromatase inhibitors Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) are a type of antihormone
therapy that block the production of oestrogen in the body. They are used to treat hormone positive
breast cancers, which are defined by the cancer cells having high levels of the oestrogen and / or progesterone
receptors. AIs are often used as an alternative to tamoxifen and include the drugs anastrozole,
letrozole or exemestane.

Avastin Also known as bevacizumab, Avastin is a targeted therapy that works by blocking the
formation of new blood vessels which allow cancer cells to continue growing, a process called


Add your comment