National Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Key terms you should know
“Mammogram.” “Triple-negative.” “Tumor stage.”
Patients may hear some -- or all -- of these words while speaking to their doctors about breast cancer. Understanding these terms and how they can affect you may be key to getting the help you need.
Below are their definitions, as well some other common breast cancer-related terms and what they mean.
Benign: When something is not cancer.
BRCA-1 and BRCA-2: These two types of breast cancer susceptibility genes usually "help protect you from getting cancer," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains. "But when you have changes or mutations on one or both of your BRCA genes, cells are more likely to divide and change rapidly, which can lead to cancer."
Carcinoma: The term signifies "cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs," according to the charity Cancer Research UK.
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): It's "essentially a cell that looks like a breast cancer but it's confined in the ducts" of the breast, Dr. Laura Spring with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, told Fox News. It's not yet able to spread distantly in the body, she explained.
Dr. Adam Brufsky, a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine professor, stressed the importance of finding DCIS, saying that it could become invasive cancer if it's left untreated.
HER2/neu: Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2/neu) is a type of "protein involved in cell growth and survival and appears on the surface of some breast cancer cells," the Susan G. Komen website explains. Testing may be done to determine a patient's HER2 status, which can indicate if there's a high amount of HER2/neu in the cancer.
Patients may also be tested to find out their...