Health

Breast cancer lingo I - M

To understand what's happening during breast cancer, you have to know the lingo

Iscador: The extract of a European species of mistletoe (Viscum album), which is injected under the skin. Evidence of its effectiveness is weak and inconclusive.

Linear accelerator: A machine used in radiotherapy to treat cancer. A linear accelerator generates gamma rays and electron beams which are focused on the cancerous tissue.

Lobules: Milk-producing glands within the breast.

Lymph: Clear fluid that passes within the lymphatic system and contains cells known as lymphocytes. These cells help fight infections and may also have a role in fighting cancer.

Lymphatic system: The tissues and organs (including bone marrow, spleen, thymus and lymph nodes) that produce and store lymphocytes (cells that fight infection) and the channels that carry the lymph fluid. The entire lymphatic system is an important part of the body’s immune system. Invasive cancers sometimes penetrate the lymphatic vessels and spread to lymph nodes.

Lymphedema: Swelling in the arm caused by the removal of the axillary lymph nodes.

Mammogram, mammography: A special X-ray of the breast; used to screen for or investigate breast abnormalities and breast cancer. Screening mammography is used for early detection of breast cancer in women without any breast symptoms. Diagnostic mammography is used to help characterize suspicious breast masses or determine the cause of other breast symptoms.

Metastasis: The spread of cancer through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to other sites.

Medical oncologist: The specialist who supervises and performs the chemotherapy or hormone therapy.