Defining key terms associated with breast cancer

Kristin Coppens

| 2 min read

A Healthier Michigan is a large advocate of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we have put pertinence in educating our readers of the disease. Though October is coined as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there is a need for education and awareness throughout the entire year.
Though most are aware of the disease and the general implications, the notion that “knowledge is power” is key. It’s important to not only understand the disease, but also to know how you can plan to detect the disease in early stages, treat it, and inform others.
Below are some key terms and definitions associated with breast cancer, in an effort to familiarize the public with the disease. Visit and review the entire list of terminology and definition here.
Antibody: Like an army for our bodies, antibodies are proteins that are most prevalently found in the blood and detect and destroy invaders (viruses and bacteria).
Benign (tumor): A tumor that does not metastasize (see below) or invade and destroy surrounding normal tissues.
Biopsy: Removing tissue from a living body in order to determine the presence, cause, or extent of the disease.
Breast Cancer: Cancer of the breast tissue, usually found in the ducts and glands. (The most common cancer among American women).
Malignant (tumor): The opposite of benign, this tumor invades the surrounding tissue and is typically extremely dangerous.
Mammogram: An x-ray of the breast tissue used for detection of tumors and other abnormalities.
Metastasize: Spreading of, typically, malignant cells into other parts of the body through the blood, lymph nodes, or surface membranes.
Staging: Determining the stage at which cancer has formed. Typical staging:
  • Stage I: cancer cells are found on the surface of the affected area or organ.
  • Stage II: cancer cells are found in the deeper tissues of said organ and have spread.
  • Stage III: cancer cells are found in yet deeper tissue and have spread to lymph nodes and other areas nearby.
  • Stage IV: cancer cells are found throughout the organs, in nearby lymph nodes, and various other parts of the body.
Looking for more information? Visit Susan G. Komen for the Cure or the American Cancer Society for more resources. Stay up to date with the latest news and information, detection, and more with these three apps available to download from the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
What are you doing to educate yourself during Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
Photo credit: justmalia

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