Benign Cyst: A cyst is a sack of tissue filled with air, fluid, or other material that can form in any part of the body, including bones, organs, and soft tissues.  Although they may initially appear to be tumors, most cysts are benign (noncancerous), although some cancers can form cysts as well.

BRCA genes: The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes regulate the cycle of cell division by keeping cells from growing and dividing too rapidly or in an uncontrolled way. In particular, they inhibit the growth of cells that line the milk ducts in the breast, so mutations in these genes are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

Chemotherapy: A drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cells in your body. Though chemotherapy is an effective way to treat many types of cancer, chemotherapy treatment also carries a risk of side effects.

Chemotherapy Hair Loss: Because chemotherapy targets all rapidly dividing cells, whether they are healthy cells or cancer cells, hair follicles (which are some of the fastest-growing cells in the body) can often be adversely affected by chemotherapy treatment.  Chemotherapy hair loss is usually only temporary, and the hair begins growing normally once the chemotherapy drugs have left the body.

DIEP Flap Procedure: A type of breast reconstruction in which the blood vessels called the deep inferior epigastric perforators (DIEP), as well as the skin and fat connected to them, are removed from the lower abdomen and transferred to the chest to reconstruct a breast after mastectomy. Unlike in the TRAM flap procedure, no muscle is sacrificed.

Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS): Refers to the presence of abnormal (cancerous) cells inside a milk duct in the breast. DCIS is considered to be the earliest form of breast cancer and is noninvasive, meaning that it has not spread out of the milk duct to invade other parts of the breast.

Free TRAM Flap Procedure: Similar to a traditional (or pedicled) TRAM flap procedure, this beast reconstruction technique completely removes a portion of the patient’s own abdominal fat, muscle, and skin and then reattaches it in the chest to form a new breast mound following a mastectomy.

HER2: a transmembrane tyrosine kinase receptor that is expressed by, and involved in the growth of, some cancer cells. For example, HER2 is overexpressed in 18% to 20% of invasive breast cancers and affects their treatment as well as their prognosis.

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC): Also known as infiltrating ductal carcinoma, IDC refers to cancer that began growing in the duct but has invaded the fatty tissue of the breast outside of the duct. IDC is the most common form of breast cancer, representing 80 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses.

Lumpectomy: a surgical operation in which a lump of cancerous tissue is removed from the breast, typically when the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body. This procedure is often combined with targeted radiation therapy to prevent any remaining cancer cells from growing and dividing.

Mammogram: An X-ray of the breast that is taken with a device that compresses and flattens the breast. A mammogram can help a health professional decide whether a lump in the breast is a gland, a harmless cyst, or a tumor.

Mastectomy: The surgical removal of all or part of the breast in order to rid the body of breast cancer. There are five different types of mastectomy: a total mastectomy, a modified radical mastectomy, a radical mastectomy, a partial mastectomy, and a subcutaneous (nipple-sparing) mastectomy.

Oncoplastic Surgery: A type of breast reconstruction that combines a lumpectomy to remove cancerous tissue with cosmetic breast surgery to lift and reshape the breasts, in order to remedy the cosmetic effects of tumor removal.

Pedicled TRAM Flap: see TRAM Flap Procedure

Tissue Expander: an inflatable device often used during breast augmentation or breast reconstruction procedures. It can be inserted under the skin of the breast and expanded slowly over time to gradually stretch the skin in order to make room for a silicone or saline breast implant.

TRAM Flap Procedure: A type of breast reconstruction in which tissue and fat from the patient’s lower abdomen, along with a small portion of the underlying transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (or TRAM) muscle to provide a blood supply, is passed underneath the skin from the abdomen to the chest and used to reconstruct the patient’s breast mound following a mastectomy.