A diagnosis of cancer will introduce you to a whole new world of words and phrases you may not be familiar with. Medicine has a language all its own. As doctors, we forget that non-medical people may not understand the terms that we use every day. Often times patients and their families leave our office not understanding what we said.
To help you better understand what is going on, here are the definitions of some common terms used in the diagnosis of breast cancer.
- Cancer – A disease caused by a group of abnormal cells growing out of control.
- Mammogram – An x-ray picture of the breast
- Ultrasound – A test that uses sound waves to examine the breast.
- Breast Magnetic Resonant Imaging – is a diagnostic exam that uses a combination of a large magnet, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed images of the breast.
- PET Scan – A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is an imaging test that uses a radioactive substance called a tracer to look for disease in the body. A PET scan shows how organs and tissues are working.
- Biopsy – a procedure done to remove a piece of suspicious tissue mass from the breast to determine if it is cancerous or not.
It is important for you to understand what your doctor has told you. Know what tests you are getting and what they are for. If there is a word you don’t understand, ask for clarification. An important part of good medical care is being well informed.