Cancer Terminology

When you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you learn “cancer terminology” very quickly.  There are so many terms that do not even make sense in the beginning because one has not been exposed to them.  Even in the midst of this horrible event, it was necessary to try and understand everything that was going on and what was going to happen in the future. So I am going to try and clarify many of the terms for you so you don’t have to learn the hard way. I think it is much better to go into this with the understanding of what is going to happen.

  • Term #1.- Triple Negative Breast Cancer – A diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer means that the three most common types of receptors known to fuel most breast cancer growth–estrogen, progesterone, and the HER-2/neu gene– are not present in the cancer tumor.  This means that the breast cancer cells have tested negative for hormone epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2), estrogen receptors (ER), and progesterone receptors (PR).  Since the tumor cells lack the necessary receptors, common treatments likehormone therapy and drugs that target estrogen, progesterone, and HER-2 are ineffective. Using chemotherapy to treat triple negative breast cancer is still an effective option. In fact, triple negative breast cancer may respond even better to chemotherapy in the earlier stages than many other forms of cancer.
  • Term #2.- Partial Lumpectomy – If you have breast cancer, alumpectomy (partial mastectomy) may be an option for you. A surgeon removes the tumor along with some of the breast tissue around it.
  • Term #3.- Mastectomy – Mastectomy (from Greek μαστός “breast” and ἐκτομή ektomia “cutting out”) is the medical term for the surgical removal of one or both breasts, partially or completely. A mastectomy is usually carried out to treat breast cancer.
  • Term #4.- HER-2/neu gene -HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) is a protein that appears on the surface of some breast cancer cells. It may also be called HER2/neu or ErbB2. This protein is an important part of the pathway for cell growth and survival.
    • HER2-positive (HER2-positive) breast cancers have a lot of HER2 protein.
    • HER2-negative (HER2-negative) breast cancers have little or no HER2 protein.

    About 20 percent of all breast cancers are HER2-positive (you also may hear the term “HER2 over-expression”) [29-30].

    – See more at:

  • Term $5.- Estrogen – Estrogen may be implicated in breast cancer risk because of: 1) its role in stimulating breast cell division; 2) its work during the critical periods of breast growth and development; 3) its effect on other hormones that stimulate breast cell division, and 4) its support of the growth of estrogen-responsive tumors.
  • Term #6.- Progesterone – another hormone that may be implicated in breast cancer risk. Some breast cancer cells grow with the help of estrogen and/or progesterone (female hormones produced in the body). These cancer cells have special proteins inside, called hormone receptors. When hormones attach to hormone receptors, the cancer cells with these receptors grow. – See more at:
  • Term #7.- Braca 1 and Braca 2 Genes – human genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins. These proteins help repair damaged DNA and, therefore, play a role in ensuring the stability of the cell’s genetic material. When either of these genes is mutated, or altered, such that its protein product either is not made or does not function correctly, DNA damage may not be repaired properly. As a result, cells are more likely to develop additional genetic alterations that can lead to cancer.
  • Term #8.- HER 1 and 2 – Increased expression of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptors, HER1 and HER2 are related to poor prognosis in most cancers studied.
  • Term #9.- Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cells in your body. Chemotherapyis most often used to treat cancer, since cancer cells grow and multiply much more quickly than most cells in the body.
  • Term #10.-Radiation –Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses beams of intense energy to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy most often gets its power from X-rays, but the power can also come from protons or other types of energy. The term “radiationtherapy” most often refers to external beam radiation therapy.
  • Term #11.-Levels of Breast Cancer –
  • T1: The invasive part of the tumor in the breast is 20 millimeters (mm) or smaller in size at its widest area. This is a little less than an inch. This stage is then broken into three substages depending on the size of the tumor:
    • T1a is a tumor that is larger than 1 mm, but 5 mm or smaller
    • T1b is a tumor that is larger than 5 mm, but 10 mm or smaller
    • T1c is a tumor that is larger than 10 mm, but 20 mm or smaller.

    T2: The invasive part of the tumor is larger than 20 mm but not larger than 50 mm.

    T3: The invasive part of the tumor is larger than 50 mm.

    T4: The tumor falls into one of the following groups:

    • T4a means the tumor has grown into the chest wall.
    • T4b is when the tumor has grown into the skin.
    • T4c is cancer that has grown into the chest wall and the skin.
    • T4d is inflammatory breast cancer.
  • Term #12.-The Red DEVIL Chemo Treatment – Adriamycin, aka the “Red Devil,” is a chemotherapy agent used to treatmany kinds of cancer, including breast, lung, ovarian, and bladder cancer. It’s also often called Doxorubicin, which is the generic name. Adriamycin is a brand name.Mar 3, 2016
  • Term #13.-Neulasta Shots –Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) is a man-made form of a protein that stimulates the growth of white blood cells in your body. White blood cells help your body fight against infection. Neulasta is used to prevent neutropenia, a lack of certain white blood cells caused by receiving chemotherapy.
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