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Medical Term Dictionary - H
medical terms

Halsted radical mastectomy - Surgical removal of the breast, skin, pectoralis muscles (both major and minor), all axillary lymph nodes, and fat for local treatment of breast cancer.

Haploid - Possessing half the diploid, or normal number of chromosomes found in somatic cells.

Harvest - To obtain distant tissue for use in reconstructive surgery such as breast reconstruction.

Hematoma - A collection of blood that can form in a wound after surgery, an aspiration or from an injury.

Hepatitis - Inflammation of the liver as a result of the presence of toxic substances or infection caused by viruses. The so-called hepatic viruses are designated A, B, C, D, and E. Hepatitis A and hepatitis E act in a similar way, and both produce symptoms of fever, sickness and jaundice. Serum hepatitis is caused by viruses B, C and D, the route of infection being blood or blood products. Serum hepatitis is most common where infected needles have been used among drug addicts. The infection may also be passed on by tattooing needles and also through sexual intercourse with an infected individual. All these viruses may persist in the blood for a long time and if B is involved, the condition is known as chronic type B hepatitis.

Her-2/neu oncogene - An oncogene that is abnormally stimulated to produce an excess of protein, affecting cell division in the breast.

Herpes - Infectious inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes characterized by the development of small blisters and caused by a number of different herpes viruses. The herpes simplex virus, types I and II, are the cause of cold sores, which usually affect the lips, mouth and face. Herpes simplex is also the cause of genital herpes, in which the blisters affect the genital region.

Heterogeneous - Composed of many different elements. For breast cancer, heterogeneous indicates numerous different types of breast cancer cells within one tumour.

Heterogeneous disease - A disease that does not manifest itself in the same way in every patient; having varying or dissimilar characteristics.

High-grade cancer - A cancer with a Bloom Richardson scale of 8 to 9, commonly with a high vascular component.

Histamines - Substances that are released from target cells and that cause membrane secretions plus blood vessel dilatation. Chemotherapy stimulates massive histamine release from the upper gut, causing the nausea associated with treatment.

Histologic grade - The microscopic measure and evaluation of the structure of a cancer.

HIV - The human immunodeficiency virus responsible for the condition known as AIDS. The virus affects and destroys a group of lymphocytes (T-lymphocytes), which are part of the body's natural defences (the immune system). HIV is found in blood, other body fluids, semen and cervical secretions and is mainly transmitted by sexual activity.

Holistic approach - Treatment that involves the entire body, including the mind and spirit.

Homogeneous - Uniform in nature; a similar cause.

Hormonal Therapy - Treatment of breast problems by alteration of the hormonal balance.

Hormone - A substance that originates in a gland and that is conveyed through the blood to another part of the body, stimulating it by chemical action to increase functional activity or increase secretion of other hormones.

Hormone Receptor Assay - A diagnostic test to determine whether a breast cancer's growth is influenced by hormones or if it can be treated with hormones.

Hormone therapy - Treating cancer by removing or adding hormones to alter the hormonal balance; some breast cancer cells will only grow in the presence of certain hormones.

Hot flashes - Sensation of heat and flushing that occurs suddenly. May be associated with menopause or occur as a side effect of some medications.

Hymen - A thin membrane that covers the lower end of the vagina at birth and usually tears to some extent before a girl reaches puberty.

Hyperemesis - Vomiting to excess. Hyperemesis gravidarum is excessive vomiting during pregnancy, which often begins as an exaggerated form of morning sickness. Medical intervention is imperative in this condition.

Hyperplasia - An excessive growth in the number of cells in the lining of a gland.

Hypoglycemia - Deficiency of sugar in the blood.

Hypothesis - An educated guess; a preliminary assumption based on enough observation to place it beyond mere speculation but requiring further experiments for verification.

Hysterectomy - Removal of the uterus (not necessarily the ovaries).