Glossary

For many the world of BRCA and all that it brings can feel like learning a new language. To help you understand this language we have started a glossary below. If there is a term/phrase/acronym that you would like us to help define or share with others, please let us know by emailing info@giftofknowledge.co.nz

  • Ascites is the abnormal accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity.
  • Mastectomy is the surgical removal of all of the breast tissue. Mastectomy is more refined and less intrusive than it used to be because in most cases, the muscles under the breast are no longer removed.
  • Prophylactic mastectomy is preventive removal of the breast to lower the risk of breast cancer in high-risk people.
  • Breast reconstruction is the rebuilding of the breast after mastectomy.
  • Benign is a tumour that is not malignant, not cancerous and wont spread to another part of your body.
  • Carcinoma is a malignant new growth (cancerous). These tumours infiltrate into surrounding tissues and if untreated will spread to other organs.
  • Malignant is a tumour that is cancerous and likely to spread if it is not treated.
  • Biopsy is when small amounts of cells or tissue is removed from your body and examined under a microscope.
  • Tumour swelling or a lump. Tumours can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
  • Mutation is an alteration in the DNA of a cell (such as BRCA1 or BRCA2).
  • Metastic Cancer a cancer that has spread from one organ to another.
  • Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer by chemicals.
  • DIEP stands for Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator
  • TRAM stands for Transverse Rectus Abdominus Muscle
  • Prophylactic ovary removal is a preventative surgery that lowers the amount of estrogen in the body. Prophylactic ovary removal removes the ovaries and usually the fallopian tubes. Women who are at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer sometimes choose prophylactic ovary removal to reduce their risk.
  • Perotineal washing is a procedure using a saline solution to look for malignant cells i.e cancer in the peritoneum.
  • Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus.
  • Refactory means the tumour fails to respond to initial treatment.
  • Recurrent cancer means the tumour has returned after initial treatment/therapy.
  • Staging a classification system used to describe the extent of the disease. For Ovarian Cancer the staging classifications are:
    • Stage 1: growth of tumour limited to the ovaries
    • Stage 2: growth of tumour in one or both ovaries
    • Stage 3: tumour involving one or both ovaries with traces outside of the pelvis and/or positive retroperitneal or inguinal lymph nodes.
    • Stage 4: growth involving one or both ovaries with distant mestastases. Typically the tumour has spread to the liver.