The Cancer Institute - Glossary of Terms
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medication for pain relief.
Loss of hair.
A low red blood count which can result in fatigue
and sometimes dizziness or shortness of breath
Loss of appetite.
abnormal growth or tumor which is not
cancer and does not
to other areas of the body.
Biologic Response Modifiers:
A new class of compounds, such
as interferon, produced in the body that fight cancer naturally
by stimulating the body's own immune system; also called "immunotherapy."
The surgical removal of a small piece of tissue
for microscopic examination to determine of cancer cells are present.
The soft, fatty substance that fills the cavities
of bones where blood cells are made.
Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy:
A procedure in which
a needle is inserted into the cavity of a bone, usually the hip
or breast bone, to remove a small amount of bone marrow for microscopic
Brachytherapy is a method of treatment in
which sealed radioactive sources are used to deliver radiation
into or near the tumor. With this method of treatment, a high radiation
dose can be delivered locally to the tumor with little effect to
the surrounding normal tissue. This treatment may also be called
internal radiation therapy. The source of radiation may be temporary
or permanent. The most common uses of brachytherapy are the seed
implants for prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and certain head
and neck cancers.
general term for a large group of diseases (more than 100), all
characterized by uncontrolled growth, invasion and spread of abnormal
cells to other parts of the body.
Any substance that initiates or promotes the
development of cancer. For example, asbestos is a carcinogen.
A form of cancer that develops in tissues covering
the lining organs of the body, such as the skin, the uterus, the
lung, or the breast; adenocarcinoma affects glandular tissue, squamous
cell carcinoma affects epithelial tissue.
Carcinoma In Situ:
An early stage in development, when the
cancer is still confined to one layer of tissue. In situ carcinomas
are highly curable.
Systemic treatment of cancer with medicines
administered orally or by injection.
The scientific evaluation of the means to
prevent, detect, diagnosis, or treat disease in human beings. Clinical
trials are conducted after experiments in animals have shown evidence
of potential effectiveness and preliminary studies in humans suggest
Computerized Tomography Scans (CT Scans):
studies that give cross-sectional views of the body; sometimes
called "CAT" scans.
An inflammation of the bladder.
of the Body tissues with fluid.
Vomiting with or without nausea.
A hormone-like substance (medication) that stimulates
the bone marrow to produce blood cells; also called colony-stimulating
the body through the veins or a tube into the stomach with high
calorie fluids; also called total parenteral nutrition (TPN).
Consent: The process by which sufficient information is provided
by the healthcare team in understandable language about proposed
treatment in order for the patient to make decisions about treatment
IV: Intravenous; injection of a solution into a vein; intravenous
change in body tissue; sometimes used as a synonym for tumor.
Leukemia: Cancer of the blood-forming tissues which is categorized
as acute of chronic.
Lumpectomy: The removal of a breast cancer (lump) and the
surrounding tissue without removing the entire breast. It is a
less radical procedure than mastectomy and is usually followed
by radiation treatment.
Lymph nodes: Oval-shaped organs, often the size of peas
or beans, that are located throughout the body and contain clusters
of cells called lymphocytes. They produce infection-fighting lymphocytes
and also filter out and destroy bacteria, foreign substances and
cancer cells. They are connected by small vessels called lymphatics.
Lymph nodes act as our first line of defense against infections
and the spread of cancer.
Lymphatic system: The system of lymph nodes and the lymphatic
vessels that connect them.
Lymphedema: Swelling, usually of an arm or leg, caused by
obstructed lymphatic vessels. It can develop because of a tumor
or as an unusual late effect of surgery or radiotherapy.
Lymphoma: A form of cancer that affects the lymph system
which is categorized as Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's varieties.
Resonance Imaging (MRI): A technique using magnetic fields
to produce images of the body; useful in disease diagnosis, including
Malabsorption: Impaired intestinal absorption of nutrients.
Malignant Tumor: A mass of cancer cells. A malignant tumor
may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the
Mammogram: The image produced by a low-dose x-ray of the
Melanoma: A type of skin cancer such as a mole which changes
Metastasis: The spread of cancer cells to distant areas
of the body by way of the lymph system or bloodstream; the term
metastases refers to these new cancer sites.
Monoclonal Antibodies: Antibodies designed to seek out chosen
targets on cancer cells; they are several currently available to deliver chemotherapy
and radiotherapy directly to a cancer, thus killing the cancer
cells and sparing healthy tissue.
Mucous Membranes: Tissues that line the passages and cavities
that communicate with air, such as the GI Tract.
new abnormal growth.
Neutropenia: Low white blood cell count which creates high
risk for infection.
Nuclear Scan: A technique in which radioactive dye is injected
into a vein, so that images of the body can be recorded to detect
the cancerous tissue. The brain, bone, and liver are common sitesscanned.
science dealing with the physical, chemical, and biologic properties
and features of cancer.
Ommaya Reservoir: Device implanted in the ventricle of the
brain through which chemotherapy is administered.Palliative
Treatment: Therapy that relieves symptoms, such as pain,
but does not alter the course of the disease.
Peristalsis: Progressive contraction and relaxation of the
Primary Sites: The site in the body where cancer originated.
Prognosis: A prediction of the course of the disease.
Prosthesis: An artificial substitute for a missing body
treatment of cancer with high-energy radiation.
Radiation/Portal Field: The area of the body designated
to receive radiotherapy; usually marked with ink or tattoos.
Remission: Complete or partial disappearance of disease.
Right Atrial Catheter or Central Venous Catheter: A tube
stitched into the vein through which medications and other solutions
are given; remains in place until not needed.
form of cancer that arises in the supportive tissues, such as bone,
cartilage, fat or muscle.
Staging: An evaluation of the extent of cancer which provides
the basis for making treatment recommendations.
Stereotactic Radiosurgery: Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)
is a one-day, single treatment, outpatient procedure that delivers
a focused dose of radiation to the target. With this treatment,
the lesion location is determined by MRI scans and /or CT scans,
a 3-D treatment plan is established, and then multiple precisely-guided
radiation beams from the LINAC equipment treat the tumor in a single
treatment. A SRS procedure is completed in a few hours and actual
dose administration time is typically less than 45 minutes. Currently,
SRS is appropriate for a variety of malignant and benign brain
tumors as well as other brain disorders. When this same equipment
and process is used to deliver a similarly accurate treatment in
multiple fractions over several days it is called Stereotactic
Stomatitis: Inflammation and/or sores of the oral mucous
membrane resulting from chemotherapy or radiation to the head and
neck regions; also a mucositis.
Subcutaneous Venous Access Disk: Device implanted under
the skin through which chemotherapy, IV fluids, and blood may be
given; sometimes called "implanted port."
abnormal tissue swelling or mass that may be either benign or malignant
Low platelet count which creates high
risk for bleeding.
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