Knowledge is Power: Breast Cancer Terms You Need to Know
Our goal is to keep you in-the-know about all things related to breast cancer and screening. Here’s a quick, handy encyclopedia we’ve put together for you to reference whenever you need to! We completely understand knowing all of these different topics, treatments, and tools can be overwhelming, especially when breast cancer is scary enough. We’re here to help you navigate learning some of the most common (but important) terms.
Here to Help: The ABCs of Breast Cancer Awareness
Breast Biopsy: If your mammogram results show something suspicious, then your physician will proceed to do a breast biopsy to remove all uncertainties. During this procedure a small sliver of breast tissue will be removed from the suspicious area so they can be examined in the lab to see if they contain cancer cells.1
NOTE: This is a diagnostic test vs. a screening test (like a mammogram), and it doesn’t mean you 100% have cancer. But it’s the only way to know for sure.
Breast Cancer: A type of cancer that starts in one or both breasts. Cancer starts when cells begin to grow out of control.2 Here is a deeper dive into the different types of the disease.
Breast Cancer Index (BCI): This index identifies which women are among those likely to benefit from continued treatment. By providing personalized information, BCI gives you peace of mind to stop treatment at year five of remission, or the perseverance to keep going if you’re extending your treatment. It’s the only test recognized by the National Comprehensive Care Network® to predict extended anti-estrogen therapy benefits.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors: Some women are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer than others. Your doctor may use your risk factors to decide if you need other screening methods, like a breast ultrasound or contrast imaging with CEM or MRI, in addition to your annual 3D™ mammogram. Learn more about common risk factors here.
Breast Density: Each of us has a unique breast density, determined by a radiologist via a mammogram. There are several levels of density, and nearly 50% of women fall into the dense breast category.3 They’re really common, but dense breasts can make it difficult to find cancers on a mammogram—and that puts you at a higher risk for breast cancer. Knowing your breast density helps you make informed health decisions. Ask your doctor about yours at your next visit!
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy (chemo) uses anti-cancer drugs that may be given through an IV or as a pill. The drugs travel through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells in most parts of the body. Not all women with breast cancer will need chemo, but there are several situations in which chemo may be recommended.4
Early Detection: Early detection provides the best chance for survival and provides the opportunity for less costly and invasive treatment options. Breast cancer is found earlier through routine mammogram screenings, monthly self exams, and clinical breast exams given by a healthcare professional.
Genius® 3D Mammography™ Exam: A mammogram that finds 20-65% more invasive breast cancers compared to 2D alone.5 It can mean an earlier diagnosis and a greater variety of treatment options available to you. It’s also FDA-approved as superior to 2D mammography for women with dense breasts!6,7
Radiation: Radiation therapy (radiotherapy) is a treatment that uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.8
Tumor Markers: Tests your doctor might order before treatment to help diagnose breast cancer and determine whether it has moved to other parts of the body. These tests could also be done during treatment to see if the cancer is responding, or after treatment to see if the cancer has come back (recurrence).9
Keep The Breast Cancer Awareness Conversation Going
We know there’s a lot of information in here to absorb. It’s okay to read through it and reference the terms as many times as you need! And while you’re at it, why not share it with a friend? The more informed we all are, the better we can take care of each other (and our boobs!) Head to our website for additional information on breast cancer, mammograms, and more.
The content in this piece is for information purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice. Please contact your medical professional for specific advice regarding your health and treatment. This information may be relevant in the U.S. and other markets and is not intended as a product solicitation or promotion where such activities are prohibited. Because Hologic materials are distributed through websites, eBroadcasts and tradeshows, it is not always possible to control where such materials appear. For specific information on what products may be available in a particular country, please write to email@example.com.
The Genius® 3D MAMMOGRAPHY™ exam (a.k.a. Genius® exam) is acquired on the Hologic® 3D Mammography™ system and consists of a 2D and 3D image set, where the 2D image can be either an acquired 2D image or a 2D image generated from the 3D image set. The Genius exam is only available on the Hologic 3D Mammography system. Please consult your physician for a complete list of benefits and risks associated with mammography.
Hologic, 3D, 3D Mammography, Genius, and associated logos are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Hologic, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries in the United States and/or other countries.
1. Breast Biopsy. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/breast-biopsy.html. Accessed January 2023.
2. What Is Breast Cancer? American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/about/what-is-breast-cancer.html. Accessed January 2023.
3. National Cancer Institute. (2020, July 14). Dense breasts: Answers to commonly asked questions. Dense Breasts: Answers to Commonly Asked Question. https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/breast-changes/dense-breasts.
4. Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/treatment/chemotherapy-for-breast-cancer.html. Accessed January 2023.
5. Results from Friedewald, SM, et al. “Breast cancer screening using tomosynthesis in combination with digital mammography.” JAMA 311.24 (2014): 2499-2507; a multi-site (13), non-randomized, historical control study of 454,000 screening mammograms investigating the initial impact of the introduction of the Hologic Selenia Dimensions on screening outcomes. Individual results may vary. The study found an average 41% (95% CI: 20-65%) increase and that 1.2 (95% CI: 0.8-1.6) additional invasive breast cancers per 1000 screening exams were found in women receiving combined 2D FFDM and 3D™ mammograms acquired with the Hologic 3D Mammography™ System versus women receiving 2D FFDM mammograms only.
6. FDA submissions P080003, P080003/S001, P080003/S004, P080003/S005.
7. Friedewald SM, Rafferty EA, Rose SL, et al. Breast cancer screening using tomosynthesis in combination with digital mammography. JAMA. 2014 Jun 25;311(24):2499-507.
8. Radiation Therapy. Breastcancer.org. https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/radiation-therapy.
9. Tumor Marker Tests. Breastcancer.org. https://www.breastcancer.org/screening-testing/tumor-marker-tests. Accessed January 2023.