[an error occurred while processing this directive]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
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


Neo-adjuvant chemotherapy: chemotherapy given before surgery to reduce the size of a tumor.

Oncologist: a doctor who specializes in the treatment of cancer.

Oophorectomy: surgery to remove the ovaries.

Ovary: reproductive organ in the female pelvis. Ovaries are the primary source of estrogen.

Palliative treatment: therapy that relieves symptoms, such as pain, but does not cure the disease.

Pathologist: a doctor who examines tissue and cells under a microscope to decide if they are normal cells or cancer cells.

Pet scan: a body scan that indicates areas of possible cancer activity.

Plastic and reconstructive surgeon: a doctor who can rebuild (reconstruct) a breast.

Port-a-cath: a catheter that is surgically implanted under the skin for chemotherapy infusion and blood draws.

Prognosis: a prediction about the possible outcome of a disease.

Prosthesis: an external breast form that fits into a bra after mastectomy.

Radiation oncologist: a doctor who uses radiation to treat cancer or its symptoms.

Radiologist: a doctor who reads mammograms and performs other tests such as x rays or ultrasound.

Radiation therapy: treatment with high-energy rays to reduce the size of a cancer before surgery or to destroy any remaining cancer cells after surgery.

Reconstruction: surgery to rebuild or reconstruct a breast.

Recurrence: reappearance of cancer.

Remission: a term used to describe a decrease or disappearance of cancer for any
period of time.

Risk factors: anything that increases a person’s chance of developing cancer.