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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


Calcifications: calcium deposits in the breast, which can be benign or malignant.

Carcinoma in situ:
DCIS - cancer that remains within the walls of the duct.
LCIS - is a noninvasive growth limited to the milk lobules. It is NOT cancer, but is a warning sign of increased risk of developing breast cancer.

CEA - Carcinoembryonic antigen: a blood test to determine if treatment is effective. Not used for screening.

Chemotherapy: treatment with drugs to destroy cancer cells.

Complementary treatment: therapies such as acupuncture, visualization, meditation, Tai Chi and yoga, used in addition to traditional Western treatment.

Clinical breast examination (CBE): breast examination by a medical professional.

Clinical trials: research studies to test new drugs or procedures on patients to compare current standard treatments with others that may be equal or better.

CAT SCAN (Computerized Axial Tomography Scan): a scan in which multiple x rays are taken of all or part of the body to produce an image of internal organs. Except for the injection of a dye, needed in some but not all cases, this is a painless procedure.

Core biopsy: removal of a piece of tissue with a needle, which is examined under a microscope to see if cancer cells are present.The patient is given a local anesthetic before a core biopsy is done.

Cyst: a fluid-filled mass that is usually benign. The fluid can be removed for analysis.

Ductal carcinoma: cancer that is found in the ducts and tissue of the breast.

Ducts: channels in the breast that carry milk to the nipple.