Glossary

A | B | C| D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y| Z

A

Absolute Neutrophil Count
A measure of the number of neutrophils in the blood. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell. They help the body fight infection. An absolute neutrophil count may be used to check for infection, inflammation, leukemia, and other conditions. Cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, may reduce the absolute neutrophil count. Also called ANC.

Anemia
A less than normal amount of red blood cells.

Antiestrogen
A substance that blocks the effects of estrogen on tumors. Antiestrogens are used to treat breast cancers that depend on estrogen for growth.

Aspiration
The removal of fluid or tissue from a specific area of the body.

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B

Basal Cell Carcinoma
The most common type of skin cancer that grows slowly and is almost always curable.

Benign
A tumor that does not grow into surrounding tissue or spread to other parts of the body.

Bilateral
Occurring on both sides of the body.

Biopsy
The surgical removal of a small piece of tissue for microscopic examination to determine if cancer cells are present.

Blood Cells
The red and white cells and platelets produced in the bone marrow that make up blood.

Blood Count
The number of both white and red blood cells and platelets as determined by examination of blood under a microscope.

Breakthrough Pain
Intense increases in pain that occur with rapid onset even when pain control medication is being used.

Breast Reconstruction
Surgery that rebuilds the breast contour after mastectomy. A breast implant or the women's own tissue is used. If desired, the nipple and areola may also be re-created. Reconstruction can be done at the time of mastectomy or any time later.

Breast Self-Exam (BSE)
A method of checking one's own breasts for lumps or suspicious changes.

Bronchoscopy
The insertion of a flexible, lighted tube through the mouth and into the lungs allowing the physician to examine and take a biopsy of the lungs and bronchi (breathing tubes).

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C

Cancer
A general term for a large group of diseases in which there is uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells.

Cancer Cell
A cell that divides and reproduces abnormally and has the potential to spread throughout the body, crowding out normal cells and tissue.

Carcinogen
A substance that causes cancer.

Carcinoma
A malignant tumor that begins in the lining layer (epithelial cells) of organs.

Carcinoma in situ
The earliest stage of cancer, in which the tumor is still confined to the local area.

Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan
Using a machine that takes pictures of cross sections of the body, a CT Scan can show the anatomy of the brain and other parts of your body that cannot be seen by regular X-ray.

Combination Therapy
The use of more than one drug during cancer treatments.

Complete Remission/Complete Response (CR)
The disappearance of all signs of cancer in response to treatment.

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D

Debulking
A procedure that removes a significant part or most of a tumor in cases where it is not possible to remove all of it. This may make subsequent radiotherapy or chemotherapy easier and more effective.

Diagnosis
Identifying a disease by its signs or symptoms, the use of imaging procedures, and/or laboratory findings.

Drug Resistance
The ability of cancer cells to resist the effects of a specific drug.

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E

Edema
The swelling or accumulation of fluid in a body part.

Effusion
A collection of fluid inside a body cavity, such as around the lungs.

Endoscope
A hollow tube-like instrument used to look inside a body cavity.

Erythrocyte
A red blood cell.

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F


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G

Gene
Pieces of DNA which contain information for making specific proteins.

Genetic Counseling
The process of counseling people who may have a gene that makes them more likely to develop cancer.

Genetic Testing
Tests performed to see if a person has certain gene changes known to increase cancer risk.

Grading
Classifying cancer cells to provide information about probable growth rate of the tumor and its tendency to spread. Grading plays a role in treatment decisions.

Granulocyte
The most common type of white blood cell. Its function is to kill bacteria.

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H

Hematocrit
The percentage of red blood cells in the body. A low hematocrit is a sign of anemia.

Hematologist
A physician who specializes in disease of the blood and bone marrow.

Hematuria
Blood in the urine.

Hemoglobin
A protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen and carbon dioxide and gives blood its red color.

Hemorrhagic Cystitis
A bladder irritation, which may be caused by anticancer drugs.

Hospice
A special type of care for people in the final phase of illness, their families and caregivers. The care may take place in the patient's home or in a homelike facility.

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I

Immune System
The complex system by which the body resists infection by microbes (such as bacteria or viruses) and rejects transplanted tissues or organs.

Immunosuppression
When the body's immune system is weakened and is less able to fight infection and disease.

Immunotherapy
The artificial stimulation of the body's immune system to treat and fight disease.

Inflammation
A condition characterized by redness, heat, pain and/or swelling in tissue.

�Infuse-A-Port�
A quarter size disc inserted below the skin to which a tube is connected and inserted into the bloodstream. Fluids, medicines, and blood products can be administered through the port.

Infusion
Delivering of fluids or medicines into the bloodstream over a period of time.

Intramuscular (IM)
The injection of a drug into a muscle.

Intravenous (IV)
The administration of drugs or fluids directly into the bloodstream.

Invasive Cancer
Cancer that has spread beyond the layer of cells where it started to nearby tissues.

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J

Jaundice
The accumulation of bilirubin in the body resulting in a yellow color to the skin and whites of the eyes.

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K


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L

Lesion
A lump or abscess that may be caused by injury or disease.

Leukocyte
A type of white blood cell.

Localized
A cancer that is still confined to the site of origin.

Lumpectomy
Removal of a lump and a small amount of surrounding tissue.

Lymphatic System
The tissues and organs (including lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, and bone marrow) that produce and store lymphocytes (cells that fight infection) and the channels that carry the lymph fluid.

Lymphedema
Swelling caused by the obstruction of the lymphatic vessels.

Lymph Nodes
Hundreds of small oval bodies that contain lymph, a clear yellowish fluid resembling blood plasma. Lymph nodes act as our first line of defense against infection and cancers.

Lymphocytes
White blood cells that kill viruses and defend against the invasion of foreign material.

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M

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
A procedure using magnetic fields to produce images of the body.

Malignant Tumor
Cancerous; a growth with a tendency to invade and destroy nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.

Mammogram
An X-ray of the breast to determine whether abnormal growths are present.

Mastectomy
The surgical removal of all or part of the breast.

Medical Oncologist
A doctor who is specially trained to diagnose and treat cancer with chemotherapy and other drugs.

Melanoma
A cancer of the pigment-forming cells of the skin or the retina in the eye.

Metastasis
The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another by way of the lymphatic system or blood stream.

Monoclonal Antibodies
Laboratory-produced substances that can locate and bind to cancer cells wherever they are in the body.

Mucous Membrane
The inner lining of the gastrointestinal tract, vagina and nose.

Mucositis
Inflammation of the mucous membranes.

Mutation
Any change in DNA.

Myelogram
An X-ray of the spinal cord after an injection of a dye.

Myeloma
A malignant tumor made up of the bone marrow protein-producing plasma cells.

Myelosuppression
A drop in the blood counts caused by treatment, especially chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

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N

Nadir
The lowest point to which white blood cell or platelet counts fall after chemotherapy.

Needle Biopsy
Removal of a small amount of tissue for diagnosis by placing a needle into a tumor.

Neoplasm
An abnormal growth that may be benign or malignant.

Neutrophils
A type of white blood cell that fights infection.

Nodule
A small lump or tumor that can be benign or malignant.

Non-invasive
A type of growth or procedure which does not invade or destroy nearby tissue.

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O

Oncogene
A gene that normally directs cell growth, but when altered, can promote cancer.

Oncologist
A physician who specializes in cancer treatment.

Oncology
The study and treatment of cancer.

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P

Palliative Treatment
Treatment that relieves pain and other symptoms of disease but does not cure the disease.

Partial Response
A decrease in the size of a tumor or in the extent of cancer.

Pathologic Fracture
A break in a bone that has been weakened by cancer or some disease condition.

Pathology
The study of diseases by examination of body fluids and tissue.

Pathologist
A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and classification of diseases by laboratory tests such as examination of tissue and cells under a microscope. The pathologist determines whether a tumor is benign or cancerous and, if cancerous, the exact cell type and grade.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
Imagery test that measures metabolic activity.

Petechiae
Tiny areas of bleeding under skin, usually due to a low platelet count.

Phlebitis
A painful swelling of the vein.

Placebo
An inactive substance that looks the same as and is administered in the same way as a drug in a clinical trial.

Platelet
A small cell in the blood responsible for clotting.

Polyp
An overgrowth of tissue projecting into a body cavity.

Precancerous
Abnormal changes in a cell that tends to become malignant.

Primary Tumor
The place where the cancer starts to grow.

Primary Site
The place where cancer begins. Primary cancer is usually named after the organ in which it starts. For example, cancer that starts in the breast is always breast cancer even if it spreads (metastasizes) to other organs, such as bones or lungs.

Progesterone
One of the female hormones produced by the ovaries.

Prognosis
A statement about the likely outcome of a disease in a specific patient.

Progression
The spreading or growing of disease, with or without treatment.

Progressive Disease
Cancer that is increasing in scope or severity.

Prophylactic
Treatment designed to prevent a disease complication likely to develop but has not yet appeared.

Prophylaxis
Disease prevention measures.

Protein
Basis of body structures such as skin and hair and of substances such as enzymes and antibodies.

Protocol
The treatment plan which includes the drugs, dosages and dates for the cancer treatment.

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Q


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R

Radiation Oncologist
A doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer.

Radiation Therapist
A person with special training to operate the equipment that delivers radiation therapy.

Radiation Therapy (RT)
The use of radiation to damage and kill cancer cells.

Radiologist
A physician who specializes in the use of X-rays to treat and diagnose disease.

Recurrence
The reappearance of a disease after previous treatment had caused the disease to disappear.

Red Blood Cells (RBCs)
Cells in the blood that bring oxygen to tissues and take carbon dioxide from tissues.

Regression
The shrinkage of cancer growth.

Rehabilitation
Activities to adjust, heal, and return to a full, productive life after injury or illness.

Relapse
A return of cancer after it has been controlled by treatment.

Remission
Complete or partial disappearance of a disease; the period during which a disease is under control.

Resection
Removal of tissue or organ by surgery.

Resistance
Failure of a tumor to respond to radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

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S

Scan
A study using either X-rays or radioactive isotopes to produce images of internal body organs.

Screening
The search for cancer in apparently healthy people who have no cancer symptoms.

Secondary Tumor
A tumor that develops as a result of spreading beyond the original cancer.

Sepsis
Bacterial growth in the blood.

Side Effect
Reaction from drugs or therapies that are not intended or wanted.

Signal Transduction Pathways
Cellular information highways that relay external messages like hormones and growth factors to the inside of cells to trigger physiological responses.

Stable disease
Cancer that is neither decreasing nor increasing in extent or severity.

Staging
An organized process of determining how far a cancer has spread.

Steroids
Drugs used to relieve swelling and inflammation.

Survival Rate
The percentage of people who live a certain period of time. The 5-year survival rate refers to the percent of patients who live at least 5 years after diagnosis, and 5-year rates are used to produce a standard way of discussing prognosis.

Systemic Disease
Disease that involves the whole body rather than just one area.

Systemic Therapy
Treatment that reaches and affects cells throughout the body; for example, chemotherapy.

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T

Thrombophlebitis
Inflammation of veins with blood clots inside the veins.

Toxic Reactions
Serious side effects.

Thrombocyte
Another word for platelet.

Tumor
An abnormal swelling or enlargement of cells or tissues which may be malignant or benign.

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U

Ultrasound
The use of high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the inside of the body.

Unilateral
On one side of the body.

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V

Venipuncture
Inserting a needle into a vein in order to obtain a blood sample, start an intravenous infusion or give medication.

Vesicant
A substance that is leaked into the tissues that could cause swelling, tissue damage and destruction.

Virus
A microorganism that can cause an infectious disease; for example, the common cold is a virus.

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W

White Blood Cells (WBCs)
Cells responsible for fighting invading germs, infection and allergy-causing agents.

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X

X-ray
Radiation energy used to diagnose and treat disease.

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Y


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Z


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