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The Komen Mission:
To eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease by advancing research, education, screening, and treatment.

Glossary of Terms

The following are terms you may hear or read while educating yourself about breast health or dealing with breast cancer. This is not a complete list of medical terms. If you have any questions about terms not listed here, ask your health-care provider.

Glossary of Terms by First Letter


Alternative therapies: therapies not necessarily proven by scientific studies such as use of nutritional supplements.

Adjuvant therapy: treatment given in addition to surgery, such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy or hormonal therapy.

Anemia: a decreased number of red blood cells, which may cause fatigue.

Anesthesia: drugs given before and during surgery so as not to feel discomfort.

Antiemetics: medicines that prevent or control nausea and vomiting.

Antiestrogen: a substance that blocks the effects of estrogen on tumors. Antiestrogens are used to treat breast cancers that depend on estrogen for growth, i.e. Tamoxifin.

Areola: the circular area around the nipple of the breast. The areola is typically darker than the rest of the breast.

Aspiration: fluid is drawn from a cyst with a needle and syringe.

Axilla: the armpit.

Axillary lymph nodes: the lymph nodes in the armpit.

Axillary lymph node dissection: surgery to remove some of the lymph nodes from the armpit.