Confused by medical jargon

I have got pre op Monday so can speak to bc nurses as have an appointment with them too but my letter says 35 mm lump which is malignant with invasive ductal carcinoma, grade 2, which is oestrogen and progesterone postive does anyone know what this means in laymans terms? Xx

This answers my question to you on the other thread. 

This is what i understand: Malignant Invasive duct carcinoma means it’s a cancerous tumour in the ducts, but spreading out of the ducts. 

The size you know.  What was the size when they did the ultrasound, do you know? 

Grade 2, prior to gland removal and testing, relates to the size, which is more than 20mm. 

Oestrogen and prog positive means it’s influenced by hormones (i.e. they played a part in causing the cancer), which I understand is a good thing because it means it will respond to hormone therapy.

Hope that helps.


Hi Sue,

It won’t be long before you get to grips with the terminology, it’s a bit of an unexpected crash course that we all have to go through!

Most of us have the diagnosis you describe, which is invasive ductal carcinoma ( it arises in the ducts of the breast), hormone positive, which means the bc is stimulated to grow by oestrogen (it can also be progesterone positive as well as in your case).

As it is hormone positive you will be offered hormone therapy, such as tamoxifen - there are others depending on your age & menopausal status, which works by blocking oestrogen to the tumour. 

There are 3 grades, 1 being the least amount of malignant change, 2 - intermediate & 3 - the most malignant. 

Like you, mine was intermediate at grade 2. This also helps the team to tailor your treatment plan to your diagnosis.

Stage refers to the size of the tumour & whether there is any node involvement. E.g. my bc diagnosis was stage 1 - as it was a small tumour with no node involvement & grade 2 (as above). Staging goes from 1-4. 

There is an explanation of grading & staging on the main bcc site here, so  do look at the links at the side of this page. 

It will all make sense very soon, 

ann x



It really is like a different language at first ,the medics are so used to using the jargon that I think they forget we don’t know all these terms at first.I kept asking them to write things down for me and then I could look them up /ask questions here.

Thank you Jill this site keeps me sane at the moment and even if I post at odd hours (which I frequently do) there is usually someone else around to reply so hugs and a big thank you to everyone x

I think most of us have posted at 4am at some point !!! Can be a lonely experience having cancer and it really helps talking to people who really understand how this affects you.