Words to Know

radionuclide scanning

Also called scintigraphy. A procedure that produces pictures (scans) of structures inside the body, including areas where there are breast cancer cells. Radionuclide scanning is used to diagnose, stage and monitor disease. A small amount of a radioactive chemical (radionuclide) is injected into a vein or swallowed. Different radionuclides travel through the blood to different organs. A machine with a special camera moves over the person lying on a table and detects the type of radiation given off by the radionuclides. A computer forms an image of the areas where the radionuclide builds up. These areas may contain cancer cells.

radionuclide

Also called radioisotope. An unstable form of a chemical element that releases radiation as it breaks down and becomes more stable. Radioisotopes can be used in imaging tests or as a treatment for breast cancer.

radiopharmaceutical

Also called radioactive drug. A medicine that contains a radioactive substance and is used in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. It can also be used for pain management of bone cancer metastases (the spreading of breast cancer to the bones).

radiosensitization

The use of a medicine that makes breast tumor cells more sensitive to radiation therapy.

radiosensitizer

A medicine that makes tumor cells more sensitive to radiation therapy.

radiosurgery

A radiation therapy technique that delivers radiation directly to the breast tumor while sparing the healthy tissue. Also called radiation surgery, stereotactic radiosurgery, stereotaxic radiosurgery.

radiotherapy

Also called irradiation and radiation therapy. The use of high-energy radiation from X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons, and other sources to kill breast cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy). Systemic radiotherapy uses a radioactive substance, such as a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody, that travels in the blood to tissues throughout the body.

raloxifene hydrochloride

Also called Evista. A medicine used to reduce the risk of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women who are at high risk of the disease or who have osteoporosis. It is also used to prevent and treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. It is also being studied in the prevention of breast cancer in certain premenopausal women and in the prevention and treatment of other conditions. Raloxifene hydrochloride blocks the effects of the hormone estrogen in the breast and increases the amount of calcium in bone. It is a type of selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM).

raloxifene

The active ingredient in a medicine used to reduce the risk of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women who are at high risk of the disease or who have osteoporosis. It is also used to prevent and treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. It is also being studied in the prevention of breast cancer in certain premenopausal women and in the prevention and treatment of other conditions. Raloxifene blocks the effects of the hormone estrogen in the breast and increases the amount of calcium in bone. It is a type of selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM).

randomization

When referring to an experiment or clinical trial, the process by which animal or human subjects are assigned by chance to separate groups that compare different treatments or other interventions. Randomization gives each participant an equal chance of being assigned to any of the groups.

randomized clinical trial

A study in which the participants are assigned by chance to separate groups that compare different treatments; neither the researchers nor the participants can choose which group. Using chance to assign to groups means that the groups will be similar, and that the treatments they receive can be compared objectively. At the time of the trial, it is not known which treatment is best. It is the participant's choice to be in a randomized trial.

receptor

A molecule inside or on the surface of a cell that binds to a specific substance and causes a specific physiologic effect in the cell.

RECIST

Also called Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumors. A standard way to measure how well a person with cancer responds to treatment. It is based on whether tumors shrink, stay the same, or get bigger. To use RECIST, there must be at least one tumor that can be measured on X-rays, CT scans or MRI scans. The types of response a person can have are a complete response (CR), a partial response (PR), progressive disease (PD), and stable disease (SD).

reconstructive surgeon

A doctor who can surgically reshape or rebuild (reconstruct) a part of the body, such as a woman's breast after surgery for breast cancer.

reconstructive surgery

Surgery that is done to reshape or rebuild (reconstruct) a part of the body changed by previous surgery. There are several types of reconstructive surgeries available after breast cancer treatment surgeries.

recreational therapy

A type of therapy that uses activities to help meet the physical and emotional needs of those with an illness or disability and help them develop skills for daily living. These activities include arts and crafts, music, spending time with animals, sports, and drama. Recreational therapy is being studied as a way to relieve distress in those with cancer who are being treated for pain.

recurrence

Also called recurrent cancer. Breast cancer that has returned after a period of time. The cancer may come back to the same place as the original (primary) breast tumor or to another place in the body.

recurrent cancer

Also called recurrence. Breast cancer that has returned after a period of time during which the cancer could not be detected. The cancer may come back to the same place as the original (primary) breast tumor or to another place in the body.

referral

In medicine, the act of a doctor sending a person he or she is caring for to another doctor for additional healthcare services. For instance, an oncologist may refer to other specialists during breast cancer treatment. Specialists who work in breast cancer treatment include medical oncologists, radiologists, breast surgeons, surgical oncologists, and radiation oncologists.

reflexology

A type of massage in which different amounts of pressure are applied to specific points on the feet or hands. These points are believed to match up with certain other parts of the body. Reflexology has been shown to alleviate symptoms of fatigue, nausea, and anxiety in individuals treated with chemotherapy. One study has been completed, evaluating its impact on women with breast cancer, yet more are needed to prove its effectiveness in lessening symptoms of breast cancer treatment.