GLOSSARY OF MEDICAL TERMS

You may hear these common medical terms and phrases when talking with your healthcare team about HER2+ breast cancer

A

Advanced breast cancer

Advanced or metastatic breast cancer is cancer that has spread from the breast to different parts of the body.

C

Cancer cell

A cell that divides and reproduces abnormally with uncontrolled growth. This cell can break away, travel to other parts of the body, and then set up at another site. This process is referred to as metastasis.

Chemotherapy

A type of cancer treatment that kills cells that grow and divide rapidly. This can include cancer cells or fast-growing normal cells.    

F

First-line treatment for cancer that has spread to other parts of the body

A treatment that is given first or as an initial treatment for cancer that is advanced or metastatic.

H

HER2 receptor

Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. HER2 helps cells grow and is found on the surface of both normal cells and cancer cells.

HER2-positive (HER2+)

Breast cancer cells that have too many HER2 receptors are considered HER2-positive. HER2 is a type of protein that tells cells to grow and divide. HER2 is found on the surface of cells in everyone, but cancer cells with too many HER2 receptors can grow and divide too quickly.

I

Immune system

Your body’s natural defense against infections and disease.

Intravenous infusion

Also known as an IV infusion, this is a way of delivering medication slowly into the bloodstream through a vein or port. Some medicines, such as KADCYLA, can only be given by IV infusion.

L

Locally advanced

Locally advanced breast cancer has not spread to distant parts of the body, but is large enough to affect breast skin and underlying chest structures. It can cause changes to breast shape and lymph node enlargement that is visible or can be felt in a breast exam.

Lymph nodes

Small, bean-shaped organs that store white blood cells and help remove cell waste, germs, and other harmful substances from the body.

M

Metastasized

When a cancer has metastasized, that means it has spread to other parts of the body.

Metastatic breast cancer

Breast cancer that has spread outside the breast to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver, or bones.

Monoclonal antibody cancer therapy

A molecule that is made to target specific cancer cells and may affect normal cells.

P

Pathology report

A report that details the results of a tissue exam conducted to determine the presence of disease. The pathology report can help healthcare teams determine how advanced the cancer is, how aggressive it is, and other unique characteristics that will help in making better treatment decisions.

Port

An implanted device through which blood can be taken and medication can be given without repeated needle sticks; also called a “port-a-cath.”

R

Radiation treatment

Radiation treatment uses high-energy rays to kill cells and/or shrink tumors.

S

Second-line treatment

Treatment given when first-line treatment doesn’t work or stops working.

Surgery

A type of cancer treatment that involves removing tumors and/or lymph nodes from the body. This can include a mastectomy (the removal of the entire breast) or lumpectomy (the removal of the tumor, as well as some surrounding normal tissue) for breast cancer.

Systemic disease

A disease that affects the whole body.

T

Targeted treatment

In HER2+ cancer, targeted therapy is a type of medicine that is designed to attack specific cancer cells, but may also affect healthy cells.

Taxane

A type of chemotherapy drug (eg, paclitaxel, docetaxel) that stops the growth of cells and makes it difficult for cells to repair damage.

Tumor

An abnormal mass of tissue that comes from the overgrowth of cells.