Cancer Glossary

Acute: Having a short and relatively severe course.

Adjuvant chemotherapy: The use of drugs in addition to surgery or radiation to treat cancer.

Anemia: A condition characterized primarily by an abnormally low number of red blood cells; symptoms include shortness of breath, lack of energy and fatigue.

Antibody: A protein produced by a plasma cell in the lymphatic system or bone marrow.

Alopecia: The loss of hair from the body or scalp.

Antiemetic: A medicine to prevent or relieve nausea or vomiting.

Benign: Used to describe a tumor that is neither cancerous nor capable of invading local tissue; for example, some types of moles or warts.

Benign tumor: Non-cancerous growth that does not spread to other>parts of the body.

Biological Therapy: Use of biological (substances produced by our own cells) or biological response modifiers in the treatment of cancer.

Biopsy: Removal and microscopic examination of a sample of tissue to see if cancer cells are present.

Blood Count: A measurement of the number of red cells, white cells, and platelets in a sample of blood.

Bone marrow: The inner, spongy tissue of a bone where red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets are formed.

Brachytherapy: Also known as internal radiation therapy, brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy in which radioactive materials sealed in fine hollow tubes, seeds or wires is directly placed into or near a tumor.

Cancer: A general term for more than 100 diseases that have uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cells that can invade and destroy healthy tissue.

Carcinogen: Any cancer-causing substance or agent.

Carcinoma in situ: Cancer that involves only the top layers without invading deeper tissue.

Carcinoma: Cancer that arises in the epithelial cells that cover external and internal body surfaces.

CAT Scan: Computerized Axial Tomography; a radiographic procedural x-ray plot the location, size and shape of tumors inaccessible to direct visualization.

Chemotherapy: The treatment of malignancies and other diseases with chemical agents; use of cytotoxic chemicals to destroy rapidly-dividing cancer cells throughout the body.

Clinical Trial: In cancer research a trial generally refers to the evaluation of treatment methods such as surgery, drugs or radiation. This study may also include methods of prevention; detection or diagnosis.

Combination Chemotherapy: The use of several drugs at the same time, or in a particular order, to treat cancer.

Combination Therapy: The use of two or more modes of treatment -- surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy -- in conjunction, alternately or together, to achieve optimum results against cancer.

Complete Response: The disappearance of all malignant disease that can be clinically detected.

Disease-free interval: The interval between a complete disappearance of the cancer (complete response) and the time of relapse.

Dosimetrist: A person who plans and calculates the proper radiation dose for treatment.

Dysplasia: Abnormal cervical cells that are not cancer.

External radiation: Therapy that uses a machine located outside of the body to aim high-energy rays at cancer cells.

Gray: A measurement of absorbed radiation dose; 1 gray =100 rads

Hematuria: Any condition in which the urine contains blood or red blood cells.

Hormone: A chemical product from the endocrine glands. When secreted into the body fluids, it affects the other organs.

Iatrogenic myelosuppression: Inhibition of blood cell production, usually caused by medical treatment, such as cancer chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Immunotherapy: Treatment that is directed at producing immunity or resistance to a disease or condition.

Implant: A small container of radioactive material placed in or near a cancer.

Infusion: The process of putting fluids into a vein by letting them drip slowly.

Injection: The use of a syringe to "push" fluids into the boyd; often called a "shot."

Interstitial radiation: A type of therapy in which radioactive substances are implanted into or close to the area needing treatment.

Intraoperative radiation: A type of external radiation used to deliver a large dose of radiation therapy to the tumor bed and surrounding tissue at the tie of surgery.

Intravenous: Into the vein, anticancer drugs are often given by IV injection or infusion.

Laser: A powerful beam of light that can develop intense heat when focused at close range. Used in some surgical procedures.

Malignant: Used to describe a tumor made up of cancerous cells

Metastasis: The spread of cells from a primary tumor to a distant site usually transported via the blood or lymphatic system.

MRI: A magnetic field study. A non-invasive diagnostic scanning technique that provides valuable information about the body's biochemistry.

Mutagen: A chemical or physical agent that induces permanent, transmissible genetic damage.

Myelosuppression: Suppression of bone marrow activity, with resulting decrease in production of blood cells, especially granulocytes as platelets, a common side effect of anti-cancer drugs.

Oncologist: A physician trained to treat patients who have cancer.

Oncology: Study, science or treatment of neoplasms and tumors.

Palliative therapy: A treatment that may relieve symptoms without curing the disease.

Rad: Short form for "radiation absorbed dose"; a measurement of the amount of radiation absorbed by tissues (100 rads = 1 gray).

Radiation therapist: A person with special training who runs the equipment that delivers the radiation. Sometimes called a "radiation technologists."

Radiation: Energy carried by waves or a stream of particles.

Regression: Shrinkage or abatement of cancer growth.

Remission: Reduction of a clinically-detectable disease for as long as possible, even though the cancer may not have been eliminated.

Shunt: A device used to establish an artificial passage by which body fluid is diverted from one circulatory path to another.

Simulation: A precoess involving specian X-ray pictures that are used to plan radiation treatment so that the area to be treated is precisely located and marked before treatment.

Staging: The process of learning whether cancer has spread from its original site to another area in the body.

Stomatitis: Sores in mouth.

Survival: Usually expressed as the ration of those who survive a disease per number of persons diagnosed with the disease in a given amount of time.

Synergism: Cooperative effects of two agents giving a total effect greater than the sum of the two agents taken independently.

Teletherapy: Treatment in which the radiation source is at a distance from the body. Linear accelerators and cobalt machines are used in teletherapy.

Vascular Access Device: A tube or system of drug delivery that is surgically placed into a large vein in the chest or arm so that chemotherapy can be given easily.

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