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M – P Terms

Macrocalcifications: Coarse calcium deposits. They are most likely due to aging, old injuries, or inflammations and usually are associated with benign conditions.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A technique that uses a powerful magnet linked to a computer to create detailed pictures of areas inside the body.
Malignancy: State of being cancerous. Malignant tumors can invade surrounding tissues and spread to other parts of the body.
Mammary duct ectasia: A benign breast condition in which ducts beneath the nipple become dilated and sometimes inflamed, and which can cause pain and nipple discharge.
Mammogram: An x-ray of the breast.
Mammography: The examination of breast tissue using x-rays.
Mastectomy: Surgery to remove the breast (or as much of the breast as possible).
Mastitis: Infection of the breast. Mastitis is most often seen in nursing mothers.
Menopause: The time when a woman’s monthly menstrual periods cease. Menopause is sometimes called the “change of life.”
Menstrual cycle: The monthly cycle of discharge, during a woman’s reproductive years, of blood and tissues from the uterus.
Microcalcifications: Tiny deposits of calcium in the breast, which can show up on a mammogram. Certain patterns of microcalcifications are sometimes a sign of breast cancer.
Mutation: A change in the number, arrangement or molecular sequence of a gene.
Needle biopsy: Use of a needle to extract cells or bits of tissue for microscopic examination.
Nipple discharge: Fluid coming from the nipple.
Nonpalpable cancer: Cancer in breast tissue that can be seen on mammograms but that cannot be felt.
 One-step procedure:  Biopsy and surgical treatment combined into a single operation.
Osteoporosis: A condition of mineral loss that causes a decrease in bone density and an enlargement of bone spaces, producing bone fragility. Certain treatments for breast cancer can impact a woman’s risk of developing osteoporosis.
Palpation: Use of the fingers to press body surfaces, so as to feel tissues and organs underneath. Palpating the breast for lumps is a crucial part of a physical breast examination.
Pathologist: A doctor who diagnoses disease by studying cells and tissues under a microscope.
Permanent section: Biopsy tissue specially prepared and mounted on slides so that it can be examined under a microscope by a pathologist.
Phytochemicals: Naturally occurring chemicals found in plants that may be important nutrients for reducing a person’s cancer risk.
Positron emission tomography (PET scanning): A technique that uses signals emitted by radioactive tracers to construct images of the distribution of the tracers in the human body.
Prophylactic mastectomy: Surgery to remove a breast that is not known to contain breast cancer, for the purpose of reducing an individual’s cancer risk.