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Commonly Used Terms

Asymmetric tissue: An observation of difference with respect to the same area on the other breast.

Benign: Non-cancerous

Biopsy: The removal and examination of a small tissue sample for diagnostic purposes.

BRCA genes: Breast cancer susceptibility genes. The BRCA gene test is a blood test that uses DNA analysis to identify harmful changes (mutations) in those genes. The test will tell you if you carry an inherited BRCA gene mutation and give an estimate of your personal risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Computer-Aided Detection (CAD): A computer program designed to review images and give the radiologist suggestions as to possible abnormalities.

Calcifications: Calcium deposits in the breast. They are like grains of sand and cannot be felt. They are best seen on mammograms. The presence of a calcification often requires further testing.

Clip/tissue marker: A surgical marker placed in the breast to mark the place where tissue was removed. The clip is safe and cannot be felt in the breast. It will not move. It does not affect MRI and will not set off alarms at the airport.

Compression: Pressing the tissue of the breast. The thinner you can make anything you're X-raying, the lower the X-ray dose you'll need to use.

Contrast/MRI dye: A clear, non-radioactive liquid. MRI contrast dye accumulates in abnormal tissues and becomes very bright under MRI.

Cyst: A fluid-filled sac or cavity, usually benign. The fluid can usually be removed with a needle. Cysts are rarely associated with cancer.

Endometrium: The lining of the uterus.

Fibroadenoma: A common benign lump that is generally firm, round and moveable. It may occur at any age but is more common in young adulthood.

Fibrocystic condition: A term used to describe various benign breast conditions.

Lymph nodes: Body organs (not glands) spread throughout your body that filter out all the dead bacteria, viruses and other dead tissue from the lymphatic fluid and eliminate it from the body.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): An imaging technology using magnets and radio frequencies to detect and stage cancer.

Malignant: Cancerous.

Mammogram/mammography: A low-dose radiation X-ray technique designed to help detect breast abnormalities.

Normal breast pattern: This pattern is unique in each person. A yearly mammogram establishes a normal breast pattern by comparing both breasts from year to year.

Radiologist: A doctor specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations.

Sentinel node: The lymph node in the armpit where breast cancer will first spread. Also called the guard node.

Stereotactic breast biopsy: A minimally invasive image-guided procedure using mammography that helps physicians locate breast abnormalities and obtain tissue for diagnosis.

Transducer: Ultrasound device that produces sound waves that bounce off body tissues and make echoes. The transducer receives the echoes and sends them to a computer, which uses them to create a picture called a sonogram.

Tumor: An abnormal growth of tissue that may be benign or malignant.

Ultrasound: An imaging technology that uses sound waves to detect suspicious masses in the breast.

Ultrasound breast biopsy: A minimally invasive image-guided procedure using ultrasound that helps physicians locate breast abnormalities and obtain tissue for diagnosis.

X-rays: A type of radiation used to detect and diagnose disease.