A woman holds a long list of questions she has for her doctor the doctor is also holding and reading the list

N.E.A.D, Denovo, N.E.D.: What Do These Terms All Mean?

Whether you have been recently diagnosed, have had MBC for some time, or are part of a breast cancer group or community, you have probably heard a few words, sayings, and terms you may not understand.

Commonly used terms


First, let's start with probably the most used term. NEAD, which stands for No Evidence of Active Disease.

As you may or may not know, it becomes metastatic once breast cancer has spread past the lymph nodes. It can go to the bones, liver, lungs, and other places, but those three are the most common places for spread.

Once you become metastatic, the cancer does not go away. You will have it forever, and most doctors will not use the word "remission" because, technically the cancer will always be there.

That's when you may hear the word NEAD, which also means the cancer is stable, or not active. The cancer is still there but has not progressed and is in a sleep stage.

NEAD is a good place to be in the metastatic cancer world. Your doctor can tell if the cancer is active using a PET scan, CT scan, or bone scan and radioactive dye injected into your arm.


The next term used a lot is NED, which stands for No Evidence of Disease.

Those of us with cancer aim to get to NED. This is sort of another word for remission, and some doctors may say remission instead of NED. No evidence of disease is just that. The cancer was not seen on a scan you may have had.

As I said, NED is where we all want to be, and many women live long lives after they achieve NED.


The last one I want to mention is Denovo, which is what I was diagnosed as.

Denovo means that you never had a lower stage of breast cancer. The cancer was stage four from your diagnosis.

Unfortunately, there are many many women who start out in stage 4. Either the cancer was discovered too late, was missed in a scan, or symptoms were ignored by the patient.

Those are the top three terms heard the most in the breast cancer community.

I know it can be confusing with all the verbiage used in the cancer community, especially on social media and in support groups.

Remember though that most terms can be found by a simple search from a reputable source on google.

What are some of the terms you have heard or read about in your breast cancer journey?

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