Breast Cancer Terms

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There are currently 7 names in this directory beginning with the letter L.
The surgical removal of a small tumor (a lump) which may or may not be benign (or malignant). Lumpectomy refers specifically to the removal of a lump from the breast.

An almost colorless fluid that travels through vessels called lymphatics in the lymphatic system and carries cells that help fight infection and disease. Cancer cells in the breast sometimes break off from the cancer “lump” in the breast and float along in the lymph, just like a hobo might jump on a train to get from one place to another, though the train was not intended to transport hoboes. The cancer cells can then potentially sprout and grow inside the lymph nodes at the “end of the line”, under the arm (axilla). It is for this reason that your surgeon will need to check some lymph nodes surgically to be sure there has been no spread.

Lymph Node
Also sometimes referred to as lymph glands, lymph nodes are small rounded or bean-shaped masses of lymphatic tissue surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue . Lymph nodes are located in many places in the lymphatic system throughout the body. Lymph nodes filter the lymphatic fluid and store special cells that can bacteria or other “foreign” material traveling through the body in the lymph fluid. The lymph nodes are critical for the body’s immune response and are principal sites where many immune reactions are initiated. During a physical examination, doctors often look for swollen lymph nodes in areas where lymph nodes are abundant, including the neck, around the collarbone, the armpit ( axilla ), and the groin.
Cancer cells sometimes “hitch a ride”, like a hobo on a train, in the lymph system, and in this way can start growing inside lymph nodes. In breast cancer, this most likely will be seen in the lymph nodes under the arm, or axilla.

  1. One of the lymphatics, vessels that convey the lymph fluid.
  2. Pertaining to the lymph, lymphoid tissue, or lymphocytes. From the Latin lympha (water or water goddess).

Lymphatic System
The tissues and organs, including the bone marrow, spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes, that produce and store cells that fight infection and disease. The channels that carry lymph are also part of this system.

Small thin channels similar to blood vessels that do not carry blood, but collect and carry tissue fluid (called lymph) from the body to ultimately drain back into the blood stream.

A common chronic, and at times, debilitating condition in which excess fluid called lymph collects in tissues and causes swelling (edema ) in them. This condition does not occur nearly so often today as it did in the last century. When it does occur, symptoms can range from very mild to very severe. Unfortunately, when it does occur, treatment options are limited to decreasing the severity through the use of massage techniques, compression garments, and the like.