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NCCN Guidelines for Patients


Breast Cancer - Early-Stage


, Version 1.2016



deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)

A very thin and long molecule that contains genetic code.

Also called the “blueprint of life.”


A tube in the breast that drains breast milk.

ductal carcinoma

A breast cancer that starts in a cell that lines the ducts of the


endocrine therapy

Treatment that stops the making or action of hormones in the

body. Also called hormone therapy.


A hormone that develops female body traits.

external beam radiation therapy (EBRT)

Treatment with radiation received from a machine outside

the body.

fertility specialist

An expert who helps women to have babies.

fine-needle aspiration (FNA)

Removal of a small tissue sample with a very thin needle.


Tissue taken from one area of the body and used in another


follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)

A hormone made by the ovaries.


Coded instructions in cells for making new cells and

controlling how cells behave.

general anesthesia

A controlled loss of wakefulness from drugs.

genetic counseling

Discussion with a health expert about the risk for a disease

caused by changes in genes.

hereditary breast cancer

Breast cancer caused by faulty, coded information in cells

that was passed down from parent to child.


Chemical in the body that activates cells or organs.

hormone receptor–negative

Cancer cells that don’t use hormones to grow.

hormone receptor–positive

Cancer cells that use hormones to grow.

human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)

A protein on the edge of a cell that send signals for the cell

to grow.

human epidermal growth factor receptor 2

(HER2) inhibitor

A cancer drug that stops the effect of a cell protein called


human epidermal growth factor receptor 2


Cancer cells with normal numbers of HER2 receptors.

human epidermal growth factor receptor 2


Cancer cells with too many HER2 receptors.

imaging test

A test that makes pictures of the insides of the body.

immunohistochemistry (IHC)

A lab test of cancer cells to find specific cell traits involved in

abnormal cell growth.

in situ hybridization (ISH)

A lab test of that counts the number of copies of a gene.


The area right below the collarbone.

intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)

Radiation therapy that uses small beams of different

strengths based on the thickness of the tissue.

internal mammary

The area along the breastbone.

internal radiation

Treatment with radiation received from an object placed near

or in the tumor. Also called brachytherapy.

invasive breast cancer

Cancer cells have grown into the supporting tissue of the


liver function test

A test that measures chemicals made or processed by the