GLOSSARY

Definitions are in the context of Breast and General Surgery and are meant for use as a guide to better understanding of your condition.

ANASTROZOLE ("ARIMIDEX", OTHER)
A hormonal treatment used in postmenopausal women with hormone sensitive (ER and/or PR positive) breast cancer

AXILLARY CLEARANCE
Surgery to remove all lymph nodes from the axilla/arm pit

BIOPSY
Tissue taken from the body to detect potential disease (see Fine needle aspiration, Core biopsy, Excisional biopsy)

CARCINOMA
Cancer

CHEMOTHERAPY
Chemical treatment of cancer cells in the body – usually given intravenously

CHOLECYSTECTOMY
Surgery to remove the gall bladder

CORE BIOPSY
Specialised needle sampling of body tissue to diagnose the nature of a potentially abnormal area – takes a small piece of tissue as opposed to fewer cells as in a fine needle aspiration

DUCTAL CARCINOMA IN-SITU (DCIS)
Pre-invasive breast cancer - sometimes thought of as “pre-cancer”

ESTROGEN RECEPTOR (ER)
Protein molecule on breast cancer cells which tells us the cell can be stimulated by estrogen

EXCISIONAL BIOPSY
Surgical removal of an entire indeterminate lesion to facilitate diagnosis

FINE NEEDLE ASPIRATION (FNA)
Specialised needle sampling of body tissue to diagnose the nature of a potentially abnormal area – takes fewer cells as opposed to a small piece of tissue as in a core biopsy

GRADE
How closely or not cancer cells resemble the original normal cells they mutated from – a low grade cancer (grade 1) is closer to normal and grows slower, a high grade cancer (grade 3) is more abnormal and grows faster

"HERCEPTIN" (TRASTUZAMAB)
A non-chemotherapy treatment used in Her2 positive breast cancer – specifically and antibody against Her2 positive cancer cells

HERNIA
Something from inside the abdomen protruding through a weakness in the muscle-tendon layer/abdominal wall

HER 2 RECEPTOR (HUMAN EPIDERMAL GROWTH FACTOR 2 RECEPTOR)
Protein molecule on the surface of breast cancer cells produced in excess in about 20% of breast cancers (“Her2 positive breast cancer”)

HOOKWIRE
Wire inserted into the breast under local anaesthetic via X-ray or ultrasound guidance before lumpectomy to pinpoint an abnormal area and guide the surgeon to it during surgery later the same day (when the surgeon can’t otherwise feel or see the abnormal area)

HOOKWIRE EXCISIONAL BIOPSY
(See Hookwire, Excisional biopsy)

HORMONAL THERAPY
Treatment used in hormone sensitive breast cancer to starve those cancer cells of feeding hormones

HORMONE RECEPTORS
Estrogen and/or progesterone receptors (ER/PR) on breast cancer cells (see Estrogen receptor, Progesterone receptor)

INFUSAPORT
Small device under the skin with a tube tunnelled through into a large vein to allow easy intravenous delivery of cancer treating drugs intermittently across weeks or months

INGUINAL HERNIA
Protrusion of something from inside the abdominal cavity through the inguinal canal – a weakness in the abdominal wall muscle/tendon layer from where the testicle once passed from inside to ultimately lie in the scrotum. (Nb There is a corresponding area of abdominal wall weakness in women)

INTRAOPERATIVE CHOLANGIOGRAM
X-ray test conducted during gall bladder surgery to check for gallstones in the bile duct and to make the surgery safer

INVASIVE CARCINOMA
Cancer with the ability to invade into neighbouring tissue and also lymphatics and blood vessels – and via them, potentially spread elsewhere in the body

“KEYHOLE” SURGERY (LAPAROSCOPY, MINIMALLY INVASIVE SURGERY)
Modern surgical technique performed through small (0.5 – 1.5cm) skin incisions and using a camera telescope through one of these incisions and long surgical instruments through the others

LAPAROSCOPY
Keyhole surgery performed on the abdomen

LETROZOLE (“FEMARA”, OTHER)
Hormonal treatment used in post-menopausal women with hormone sensitive (ER and/or PR positive) breast cancer

LYMPH
Colourless fluid containing immune cells, nutrient and waste, in which the body’s tissues soak

LYMPHATICS
Network of channels/small vein-like vessels throughout the body, which carry used lymph (tissue fluid) away from the body’s cells

LYMPH/GLAND NODE
Small swellings in the lymphatic system, which act as filters for the lymph fluid passing through, before that fluid is ultimately returned into the bloodstream

LYMPHOEDEMA
Fluid retention within a body part, which may be due to lymphatic disruption from cancer spread and/or treatment

MACRODOCHECTOMY
Surgical removal of milk ducts from behind the nipple

MASTECTOMY
Surgical removal of the breast

METASTASIS / METASTATIC DISEASE
Development of secondary cancer deposits/spread at a distant site from the initial (primary) cancer

MICRODOCHECTOMY
Surgical removal of one milk duct from behind the nipple

MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (MRI)
Medical imaging technique using a magnetic field to produce images of the body’s internal structures

"OPEN" SURGERY
Traditional surgical technique using an appropriate length skin incision to allow full exposure and direct visualisation of the operative site (as opposed to “keyhole” surgery)

"PERJETA" (PERTUZAMAB)

A non-chemotherapy treatment used in Her2 positive breast cancer – specifically and antibody against Her2 positive cancer cells

 

PROGESTERONE
Protein molecule on breast cancer cells which tells us the cell can be stimulated by progesterone

RADIOTHERAPY
Treatment of disease using X-ray, or similar radiation

SENTINEL LYMPH NODE
The first lymph node or nodes, tissue fluid (lymph) from a given area of the body drains to

SENTINEL LYMPH NODE BIOPSY
Surgical removal of the sentinel node/s to ascertain if a nearby cancer has spread there (see Sentinel lymph node)

STAGE
Classification of disease extent commonly used in patients with cancer – simply put: confined to primary organ, involving nearby lymph nodes, spread to distant organ/s

STAGING
Tests to determine disease stage, eg CT scan, bone scan (see Stage)


TAMOXIFEN
Hormonal treatment used in pre and postmenopausal women with hormone sensitive (ER and/or PR positive) breast cancer

WIDE LOCAL EXCISION (BREAST)
Surgical removal of an abnormal area of breast tissue with a surrounding margin (rim) of normal tissue

Melbourne Breast and Endocrine Surgeons Mr Sunil Jassal
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