Early Detection Is a Woman's Best
According to an article scheduled to appear in tomorrow's Parade Magazine, breast cancer strikes 1 in 9 women in the U.S. over their lifetime. Until it can be prevented or cured, the best defense
is early detection with regular mammograms (safe low-dose breast
X-rays) and manual breast self-examinations, which have raised
- The risk of breast cancer rises sharply after
40. This is the time to begin yearly mammography.
- In women aged 40 or older, early-stage
breast cancer often can be treated with surgery that protects
the breast. In conjunction with radiation the survival rate is
96% for five years, 77% for 10 years and 57% for 15 years.
- Women aged 50-69 who have regular
mammograms are 30% less likely to die from breast cancer than
those who don't.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness
Month. In support, the FDA and the National Cancer Institute are
offering a free package on breast health, including a Q&A
This package consists of the following
Click here to order
this special promotional package online, or call the
Federal Consumer Information Center toll-free at 1-888-878-3256,
weekdays 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. ET.
BREAST CANCER GLOSSARY
Abscess: A pocket of pus that
forms as the body's defenses attempt to wall off infection-causing
Areola: The colored tissue that
encircles the nipple.
Aspiration: Removal of fluid from
a cyst or cells from a lump, using a needle and syringe.
Atypical hyperplasia: Cells that
are both abnormal (atypical) and increased in number. Benign microscopic
breast changes known as atypical hyperplasia moderately increase a
woman's risk of developing breast cancer.
Average risk (for breast cancer): A measure of the chances of
getting breast cancer without the presence of any specific factors known
to be associated with the disease.
Benign: Not cancerous; cannot
invade neighboring tissues or spread to other parts of the body.
Benign breast changes: Noncancerous
changes in the breast. Benign breast conditions can cause pain,
lumpiness, nipple discharge, and other problems.
Biopsy: The removal of a sample of
tissue or cells for examination under a microscope for purposes of
BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes: The
principal genes that, when altered, indicate an inherited susceptibility
to breast cancer. These gene alterations are present in 80 to 90 percent
of hereditary cases of breast cancer.
Breast density: Glandular tissue
in the breast common in younger women, making it difficult for
mammography to detect breast cancer.
Breast implants: Silicone rubber
sacs, which are filled with silicone gel or sterile saline, used for
breast reconstruction after mastectomy.
Calcifications: Small deposits of
calcium in tissue, which can be seen on mammograms.
Cancer: A general name for more
than 100 diseases in which abnormal cells grow out of control. Cancer
cells can invade and destroy healthy tissues, and they can spread
through the bloodstream and the lymphatic system to other parts of the
Carcinoma: Cancer that begins in tissues lining or covering
surfaces (epithelial tissues) of organs, glands, or other body
structures. Most cancers are carcinomas.
Carcinoma in situ: Cancer that is confined to the cells where
it began, and has not spread into surrounding tissues.
Chemoprevention: The use of drugs
or vitamins to prevent cancer in people who have precancerous conditions
or a high risk of cancer, or to prevent the recurrence of cancer in
people who have already been treated for it.
Chromosomes: Structures located in
the nucleus of a cell, containing genes.
Clinical breast exam: A physical
examination by a doctor or nurse
of the breast, underarm, and collarbone area, first on one side, then on
Computed tomography (CT) scanning: An
imaging technique that uses a computer to organize the information from
multiple x-ray views and construct a cross-sectional image of areas
inside the body.
Computer-aided diagnosis (CAD): the
use of special computer programs to scan mammographic images and flag
areas that look suspicious.
Core needle biopsy: The use of a
small cutting needle to remove a core of tissue for microscopic
Cyclic breast changes: Normal
tissue changes that occur in response to the changing levels of female
hormones during the menstrual cycle. Cyclic breast changes can produce
swelling, tenderness, and pain.
Cyst: Fluid-filled sac. Breast
cysts are benign.
Diagnostic mammogram: The use of a
breast x-ray to evaluate the breasts of a woman who has symptoms of
disease such as a lump, or whose screening mammogram shows an
Digital mammography: A technique
for recording x-ray images in computer code, which allows the
information to enhance subtle, but potentially significant, changes.
Ducts: Channels that carry body
fluids. Breast ducts transport milk from the breast's lobules out to the
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): Cancer
that is confined to the ducts of the breast tissue.
Excisional biopsy: The surgical
removal (excision) of an abnormal area of tissue, usually along with a
margin of healthy tissue, for microscopic examination. Excisional
biopsies remove the entire lump from the breast.
False negative (mammograms):
Breast x-rays that miss cancer when it is present.
False positive (mammograms): Breast
x-rays that indicate breast cancer is present when the disease is truly
Fat necrosis: Lumps of fatty
material that form in response to a bruise or blow to the breast.
Fibroadenoma: Benign breast tumor
made up of both structural (fibro) and glandular (adenoma) tissues.
Fibrocystic disease: See
Generalized breast lumpiness.
Fine needle aspiration: The use of
a slender needle to remove fluid from a cyst or clusters of cells from a
Frozen section: A sliver of frozen
biopsy tissue. A frozen section provides a quick preliminary diagnosis
but is not 100 percent reliable.
Generalized breast lumpiness:
Breast irregularities and lumpiness, commonplace and noncancerous.
Sometimes called "fibrocystic
disease" or "benign breast disease."
Gene: Segment of a DNA molecule and the fundamental biological
unit of heredity.
Genetic change: An alteration in a
segment of DNA, which can disturb a gene's behavior and sometimes leads
Higher risk (for breast cancer): A measure of the chances of
getting breast cancer when factor(s) known to be associated with the
disease are present.
Hormone replacement therapy: Hormone-containing
medications taken to offset the symptoms and other effects of the
hormone loss that accompanies menopause.
Hormones: Chemicals produced by
various glands in the body, which produce specific effects on specific
target organs and tissues.
Hyperplasia: Excessive growth of
cells. Several types of benign breast conditions involve hyperplasia.
Incisional biopsy: The surgical
removal of a portion of an abnormal area of tissue, by cutting into
(incising) it, for microscopic examination.
Infection: Invasion of body
tissues by microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses.
Infiltrating cancer: Cancer that has spread to nearby tissue,
lymph nodes under the arm, or other parts of the body. (Same as Invasive
Inflammation: The body's
protective response to injury (including infection). Inflammation is
marked by heat, redness, swelling, pain, and loss of function.
Intraductal papilloma: A small
wartlike growth that projects into a breast duct.
Invasive cancer: Cancer that has spread to nearby tissue,
lymph nodes under the arm, or other parts of the body. (Same as
Laser beam scanning: a technology
being studied in research for breast cancer detection that shines a
laser beam through the breast and records the image produced, using a
Lobes, lobules, bulbs: Milk-producing
tissues of the breast. Each of the breast's 15 to 20 lobes branches into
smaller lobules, and each lobule ends in scores of tiny bulbs. Milk
originates in the bulbs and is carried by ducts to the nipple.
Localization biopsy: The use of
mammography to locate tissue containing an abnormality that can be
detected only on mammograms, so it can be removed for microscopic
Lumpectomy: Surgery to remove only
the cancerous breast lump; usually followed by radiation therapy.
Lymphatic system: The tissues and organs that produce, store,
and transport cells that fight infection and disease.
calcium deposits. They are most likely due to aging, old injuries, or
inflammations and usually are associated with benign conditions.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A
technique that uses a powerful magnet linked to a computer to create
detailed pictures of areas inside the body.
Malignancy: State of being
cancerous. Malignant tumors can invade surrounding tissues and spread to
other parts of the body.
Mammary duct ectasia: A benign
breast condition in which ducts beneath the nipple become dilated and
sometimes inflamed, and which can cause pain and nipple discharge.
Mammogram: An x-ray of the breast.
Mammography: The examination of
breast tissue using x-rays.
Mastectomy: Surgery to remove the
breast (or as much of the breast as possible).
Mastitis: Infection of the breast.
Mastitis is most often seen in nursing mothers.
Menopause: The time when a woman's
monthly menstrual periods cease. Menopause is sometimes called the
"change of life."
Menstrual cycle: The monthly cycle
of discharge, during a woman's reproductive years, of blood and tissues
from the uterus.
Microcalcifications: Tiny deposits
of calcium in the breast, which can show up on a mammogram. Certain
patterns of microcalcifications are sometimes a sign of breast cancer.
Mutation: A change in the number,
arrangement, or molecular sequence of a gene.
Needle biopsy: Use of a needle to
extract cells or bits of tissue for microscopic examination.
Nipple discharge: Fluid coming
from the nipple.
Nonpalpable cancer: Cancer in
breast tissue that can be seen on mammograms but that cannot be felt.
One-step procedure: Biopsy and
surgical treatment combined into a single operation.
Osteoporosis: A condition of
mineral loss that causes a decrease in bone density and an enlargement
of bone spaces, producing bone fragility.
Palpation: Use of the fingers to
press body surfaces, so as to feel tissues and organs underneath.
Palpating the breast for lumps is a crucial part of a physical breast
Pathologist: A doctor who
diagnoses disease by studying cells and tissues under a microscope.
Permanent section: Biopsy tissue
specially prepared and mounted on slides so that it can be examined
under a microscope by a pathologist.
occurring chemicals found in plants that may be important nutrients for
reducing a person's cancer risk.
Positron emission tomography (PET
scanning): A technique that uses signals emitted by radioactive
tracers to construct images of the distribution of the tracers in the
Prophylactic mastectomy: Surgery
to remove a breast that is not known to contain breast cancer, for the
purpose of reducing an individual's cancer risk.
Rad: A unit of measure for
radiation. It stands for radiation absorbed dose.
Radiation: Energy carried by waves
or by streams of particles. Various forms of radiation can be used in
low doses to diagnose disease and in high doses to treat disease. See
Radiologist: A doctor with special
training in the use of x-rays (and related technologies such as
ultrasound) to image body tissues and to treat disease.
Risk: A measure of the likelihood
of some uncertain or random event with negative consequences for human
life or health.
Risk factors (for cancer): Conditions
or agents that increase a person's chances of getting cancer. Risk
factors do not necessarily cause cancer; rather, they are indicators,
statistically associated with an increase in likelihood.
Sclerosing adenosis: A benign
breast disease that involves the excessive growth of tissues in the
Screening mammogram: Breast x-ray
used to look for signs of disease such as cancer in people who are
Sonogram: The image produced by
Specimen x-ray: An x-ray of tissue
that has been surgically removed (surgical specimen).
Stereotactic localization biopsy: A
technique that employs three-dimensional x-ray to pinpoint a specific
target area. It is used in conjunction with needle biopsy of nonpalpable
Surgical biopsy: The surgical
removal of tissue for microscopic examination and diagnosis. Surgical
biopsies can be either excisional or incisional. (See Excisional biopsy
and Incisional biopsy.)
Tamoxifen: A hormonally related
drug that has been used to treat breast cancer and is being tested as a
possible preventive strategy.
Tumor: An abnormal growth of
tissue. Tumors may be either benign or cancerous.
Tumor markers: Proteins (either amounts or unique variants)
made by altered genes in cancer cells that are involved in the
progression of the disease.
Two-step procedure: Biopsy and
treatment done in two stages, usually a week or two apart.
Ultrasound: The use of sound waves
to produce images of body tissues.
X-ray: A high-energy form of
radiation. X-rays form an image of body structures by traveling through
the body and striking a sheet of film. Breast x-rays are called