Glossary of terms – Surgical
This list is not exhaustive, it contains terms experienced by supporters of Against Breast Cancer who have each chosen to share their own stories in the hope that they might serve to educate or inform others.
The glossary of terms contains both a definition and a link to an external site* to provide further reading.
*Against Breast Cancer is not responsible for the content of external sites
Axillary lymph node clearance
If there are cancer cells in the sentinel nodes (situated under the arm), surgery may be required to remove lymph nodes from under the arm. The term for this is axillary lymph node clearance.
An external breast prosthesis is an artificial breast, which can be worn inside a bra to replace the volume of the breast that’s been removed. These are usually made of lightweight foam whilst the patient is still recovering from surgery (temporary breast prosthesis) and once healed, a silicone (permanent) prosthesis will be offered.
Dorsi flap reconstruction
A dorsi flap reconstruction uses the latissimus dorsi muscle, a large muscle that lies in the back just below the shoulder blade.
Gamma Knife Treatment
Gamma knife is a type of treatment called stereotactic radiosurgery that uses highly-focused radiation to treat conditions such as brain tumours.
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the womb (uterus).
A mastectomy is the removal of all the breast tissue, including the nipple. This can involve both breasts (bilateral / double) or one breast (single). A partial mastectomy (lumpectomy / breast conserving surgery) is the removal of the tumour and some surrounding breast tissue.
A peripherally inserted central catheter line can be used to administer chemotherapy treatment. It is a long, thin, flexible tube which is inserted into one of the large veins of the arm, above the bend of the elbow until the tip is in a large vein just above the heart. The PICC line will usually stay inserted until the end of the planned treatment, sealed with a cap or bung and attached to a drip or syringe when the chemotherapy is administered.
A prophylactic, or preventive, mastectomy is when a mastectomy is carried out to reduce the risk of a patient developing breast cancer. Women carrying the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, or with a significant family history of breast cancer, may choose the have the surgery.
Surgery to reconstruct the breast after tumour removal can be carried out at the same time as a mastectomy (immediate reconstruction), or it can be carried out later (delayed reconstruction). Silicone or saline implants can be used, or a new breast shape can be achieved by transferring tissue from another part of the body.
Stereotactic radiotherapy is a way of targeting radiotherapy very precisely at the tumour.
Also known as a lollipop scar mammoplasty, a therapeutic mammoplasty is an operation to remove the breast cancer and then reshape the breast by removing skin and tissue to leave a normal breast shape although smaller and uplifted.
TRAM flap reconstruction
Skin, fat and sometimes muscle can be taken from the tummy to reconstruct one or both breasts.