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Breast oncology involves a range of medical terms that might be unfamiliar. This glossary is designed to help you understand the key terminology you might encounter during your breast cancer journey.


Adjuvant Therapy

Additional cancer treatment given after the primary treatment to lower the risk of the cancer coming back.

Axillary Lymph Node Dissection

The surgical removal of many lymph nodes from the underarm area to determine if breast cancer has spread.


A medical procedure that involves the removal of a small amount of tissue for examination under a microscope to check for cancer cells.

Breast Reconstruction

A surgical procedure to rebuild the shape and look of a breast, often after mastectomy or lumpectomy.


A type of cancer treatment using drugs to destroy cancer cells.

Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)

A non-invasive cancer where abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct.

Flap Reconstruction

A type of breast reconstruction surgery where tissue is taken from other parts of the body, like the abdomen or back, to create a new breast mound.


A monoclonal antibody used as a targeted therapy for HER2-positive breast cancers.

Hormone Therapy

Treatment that adds, blocks, or removes hormones to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells that use hormones to grow.

Implant Reconstruction

A breast reconstruction technique where silicone or saline implants are used to form a new breast mound.

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)

The most common type of breast cancer that begins in the milk ducts and spreads to nearby tissue.


A surgical procedure that removes only the tumour and a small margin of surrounding tissue from the breast.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

A non-invasive imaging technique that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of the breast.


An X-ray picture of the breast used to detect and diagnose breast disease.


A surgery to remove all breast tissue from a breast as a way to treat or prevent breast cancer.

Neoadjuvant Therapy

Treatment given as a first step to shrink a tumour before the main treatment, which is usually surgery, especially in cases where the tumour is large.


A doctor who specializes in treating cancer.

Oncoplastic Surgery

A procedure combining cancer surgery with plastic surgery techniques to remove cancer tissue and reconstruct the breast in the same operation.

Radiation Therapy

Treatment with high-energy rays (such as X-rays) to kill or shrink cancer cells.

Reconstructive Breast Surgery

Procedures performed to restore the appearance of the breast after mastectomy or lumpectomy.

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy

A surgical procedure used to determine if cancer has spread beyond a primary tumour into your lymphatic system.

Targeted Therapy

A type of cancer treatment that uses drugs designed to target specific cancer cells and avoid damaging normal cells.


An abnormal mass of tissue that can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).


An imaging test that uses sound waves to create a picture of the inside of the body.