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Breast Cancer Glossary of Medical Terms


The terms which are underlined have active hyperlinks. Click on an underlined word for a more comprehensive discussion of the term.

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Galactocele: A clogged milk duct; a cyst filled with milk. It may occur in the breast during breast-feeding.

Galactogram: A special type of contrast enhanced mammography used for imaging the breast ducts. Galactography can aid in diagnosing the cause of an abnormal nipple discharge and is valuable in diagnosing intraductal papillomas (wart-like, non-cancerous tumors with branchings or stalks that have grown inside the breast duct).

Gene: A segment of DNA that contains information on hereditary characteristics such as hair color, eye color, and height as well as susceptibility to certain diseases. Women who have BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations (defects) have an inherited (genetic) tendency to develop breast cancer.

Genetic: Related to or caused by the genes. (See also gene).

Glands: Organs that produce and release substances used locally or elsewhere in the body.

Goserelin acetate: Brand name, Zoladex. Drug used to treat metastatic breast and prostate cancers.  Goserelin acetate works by blocking estrogen from breast cancer cells (and blocking testosterone in men), thereby starving these cells. 

Grade: The grade of a breast cancer reflects how abnormal it looks under the microscope. There are several grading systems for breast cancer, but all divide cancers into those with the greatest abnormality (grade 3 or poorly differentiated), the least abnormality (grade 1 or well differentiated) and intermediate features (grade 2 or moderately differentiated). Grading is done by the pathologist who examines the biopsy specimen. It is important because higher grade cancers tend to grow and spread more quickly and have a worse prognosis.  A cancer's histologic grade is based on features of individual cells as well as how the cells are arranged together.

Granular cell:  Usually found in the mouth or skin but may rarely be detected in the breast. Most granular cell tumors of the breast are identified as movable, firm lumps, measuring between 0.5 inch and 1.0 inch in diameter.

Graphic stress telethermometry (GST): A method of measuring surface heat from a distance. Some have used this method, plus computer analysis of heat patterns in the breast, to measure breast cancer risk. This is not a reliable method and is not in standard practice.

Gross Description/The Gross: Characteristics of a breast biopsy sample that the pathologist measured and felt when examining the tissue with the naked eye (without a microscope).

Gynecologist: A physician who specializes in women's health.

Gynecologist oncologist: A physician who specializes in cancers of a woman's reproductive organs.

Updated: August 2006