|abdomen (AB-do-men )
The middle part of the body between the chest and the hips. It contains many organs, including the stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and others.abdominal (ab-DOM-ih-nal )
Having to do with the abdomen – the part of the body between the chest and the hips. It contains the stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and other organs.
ablation (ab-LAY-shun )
Using surgery or radiation to remove or stop the function of an organ or tissue in the body.
acupressure (AK-yoo-presh-ur )
Putting pressure on, or massaging, specific places on the body. This is done to control symptoms such as pain or nausea, or to stop bleeding.
acupuncture (AK-yoo-punk-chur )
The technique of inserting thin needles into the skin at specific points. This can help control pain and other symptoms.
acute (a-KYOOT )
When symptoms start suddenly and last for a relatively short period of time. Not long-lasting or chronic.
acute leukemia (a-KYOOT loo-KEY-mee-a )
A cancer of the bone marrow cells that can progress quickly.
adenocarcinoma (AD-in-o kar-sin-O-ma )
Cancer that begins in cells that line the inside of organs. These organs make substances like hormones or milk. Most breast cancers are of this type. They begin in cells that make milk or in the cells that drain the breast milk.
adenoid cystic cancer (AD-in-oyd SIS-tik KAN-sir )
An uncommon type of invasive breast cancer. It starts in the glands of the breast and grows into the normal surrounding breast tissue.
adenoma (AD-in-OH-ma )
An overgrowth of breast gland cells without any signs of cancer.
adenopathy (ad-in-OP-a-thee )
Large or swollen lymph nodes.
adjuvant therapy (AD-joo-vant THER-uh-pee )
More treatment given to lower the chance of a cancer coming back. It comes after the main treatment plan. It may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, immune treatment, and/or newer forms of treatment.
adrenal glands (ah-DREE-nul glanz )
A pair of small glands on top of each kidney. These glands make the steroid hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline. These hormones help control heart rate, blood pressure, and other important body activities.
adrenaline (ad-REN-uh-lin )
A chemical that helps you respond to danger. It is a neurotransmitter which carries nerve signals from one nerve cell to another. Also called: epinephrine
adverse effect (AD-virs EF-fekt )
An unwanted side effect of treatment.
agonists (A-guh-nists )
Drugs or hormones that trigger a response from a cell or another drug.
agranulocyte (a-GRAN-yoo-low-site )
A type of white blood cell or immune cell. Examples are lymphocytes and monocytes.
alkaloid (AL-ka-loyd )
One of a large group of chemicals produced by certain types of nitrogen- containing plants. Some alkaloids can kill cancer cells. They are used as chemotherapy.
ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) (a-KYOOT limf-oh-BLAS-tik loo-KEY-mee-a )
A rapidly progressing cancer in which a large number of abnormal white blood cells (lymphoblasts) are present in in the blood and bone marrow. Also called: acute lymphocytic leukemia.
alternative medicine (al-TER-nah-tiv MED-uh-sin )
Alternative medicine includes the use of dietary supplements, special
teas, vitamins herbal preparations, and practices such as massage therapy, acupuncture, spiritual healing, and meditation. Alternative medicine includes treatment that may not be fully accepted by the main established medical community.
AML (acute myelogenous leukemia) (a-KYOOT my-eh-LAJ-ah-nus loo-KEY- mee-a )
A rapidly progressing cancer in which a large number of abnormal white blood cells are present in the blood and in the bone marrow. Also called: acute myeloid leukemia or acute nonlymphocytic leukemia.
anaplastic (an-ah-PLAS-tik )
A term used to describe cancer cells that divide rapidly and do not look like normal cells.
androgens (AN-dro-jens )
Hormones that help to develop sex organs in men. They also help to keep up sexual function in both women and men. In women, most of them are changed into estrogen by fat and muscle cells. After menopause, when the ovaries no longer make estrogen, this is the main source of estrogen made in the body.
anemia (a-NEE-mee-a )
A condition in which the number of red blood cells is too low.
anesthesia (an-es-THEE-zha )
Medication or treatment that makes you lose feeling or awareness. Local anesthesia causes loss of feeling in a part of the body. General anesthesia puts you to sleep. They are used to prevent pain during operations.
aneuploid (AN-yoo-ploid )
The number of chromosomes is not normal. There are too many chromosomes or too few. It usually means that the cancer is growing faster than normal cells.
angelica root (an-JELL-ick-uh root )
The roots of a group of herbs called Angelica. These roots are used in some cultures to treat medical problems such as loss of appetite, feelings of fullness, and gas.
angiogenesis (an-jee-oh-JEN-eh-sis )
The formation of new blood vessels that cancer cells need in order to grow.
angiogenesis inhibitor (an-jee-o-JEN-eh-sis in-HIB-i-tor )
A substance that stops new blood vessels from forming. It tries to fight cancer by stopping the growth of blood vessels that feed a tumor. As a result, the tumor starves and shrinks.
angiography (an-jee-AH-gra-fee )
A procedure for imaging blood vessels using x-rays. Dye is injected into the blood vessels. The dye makes the vessels become visible in the x-ray pictures.
angiosarcoma (AN-jee-o-sar-KO-ma )
A type of cancer that begins in the cells that blood vessels are made of.
anorexia (an-uh-REK-see-a )
An abnormal loss of appetite. Anorexia can be caused by cancer, AIDS, a mental disorder (called anorexia nervosa), or other disease.
anti-angiogenesis (AN-tee-an-jee-oh-JEN-eh-sis )
Blocking the formation of new blood vessels that cancer cells need in order to grow.
antibiotics (an-tee-by-AH-tiks )
Drugs used to treat infections caused by bacteria and other microorganisms.
antibody (AN-tih-BOD-ee )
Special fighter protein made by your immune system. Antibodies help protect you from disease. The immune system makes a special protein for each kind of “intruder” that enters the body from the outside. These “intruders” are called antigens. The fighter proteins link up with the antigens like pieces of a puzzle. Once they’re linked, the antigen is killed.
antibody therapy (AN-tih-BOD-ee THER-uh-pee )
Using fighter proteins (called antibodies) to help the immune system attack cancer cells.
antigens (AN-tih-jenz )
Substances that are not supposed to be in your body (like viruses, bacteria, or cell changes that are very abnormal). Your immune system’s job is to protect you from such substances. When the immune system discovers them, it springs into action. The immune system makes antibodies (special proteins) to attack the antigens.
anti-inflammatory (AN-ty-in-FLAM-ah-tor-ee )
Something that reduces swelling, fever, and pain (these are the signs of inflammation). Anti-inflammatory drugs include aspirin, Motrin/Advil (chemical name: ibuprofen), and Tylenol (chemical name: acetaminophen).
antineoplastons (AN-tee-nee-oh-PLAST-unz )
Substances taken from normal human blood and urine. They are being tested as a treatment for some cancers and for AIDS.
antioxidant (AN-tee-OX-id-ant )
A substance that stops the harm caused by free radicals. (These are unstable atoms or molecules that damage others as they pass by.) Examples are vitamin C and vitamin E.
The opening of the rectum to the outside of the body.
apheresis (ay-fer-EE-sis )
A procedure in which blood is collected, then part of the blood, such as the platelets or white blood cells, is removed, and the remaining blood is returned to the donor. Also called: pheresis.
apoptosis (ay-pop-TOE-sis )
A normal series of events inside a cell that leads to its death. Also called: programmed cell death
areola (a-REE-o-la )
The round area of dark-colored skin around the nipple.
arthritis (ar-THRY-tis )
A condition that involves swelling, pain, and decreased movement of the joints. (A joint is the space between two bones.)
ascites (ah-SITE-eez )
Abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen. The fluid collects in the space around and between the organs in the abdomen.
aspiration (ass-per-AY-shun )
Taking out fluid or cells from a lump with a hollow needle and a syringe. This may be done to see if the lump is just a fluid-filled cyst. It can also remove cells to see if they are normal cells or cancer cells.
aspirin (ASS-per-in )
A drug that reduces pain, fever, inflammation, and blood clots. It belongs to the family of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs). It can lower the risk of heart disease. It is now being studied to see if it can help lower cancer risk.
asymptomatic (AY-simp-tuh-MAT-ik )
Having no signs or symptoms of disease. For example, an asymptomatic lump has no associated pain, swelling, or bleeding.
ataxia (ah-TAK-see-a )
A condition in which you have difficulty controlling the way your muscles move.
ataxic gait (ah-TAK-sik gate )
When a person has difficulty walking. This can be caused by a problem in the brain, spinal cord, backbone, or legs.
autoimmune disease (AW-toe-im-YOON diz-EEZ )
A condition in which your immune system attacks tissues in your own body. This happens if the immune system gets signals telling it that your body tissue is an outside invader.
autologous (aw-TAHL-ah-gus )
Taken from a person’s own tissues, cells, or DNA.
autologous bone marrow transplantation (aw-TAHL-ah-gus bone MAR-oh tranz-plan-TAY-shun )
A procedure in which bone marrow is removed from an individual, stored while the individual receives intensive chemotherapy treatment, and is then returned to that individual following treatment.
axillary dissection (AK-sil-air-ee dye-SEK-shun )
Surgery to remove lymph nodes from the armpit area. Also called: axillary lymph node dissection
axillary lymph nodes (AK-sil-air-ee limf nodes )
Lymph nodes found in the armpit area. They filter the lymph fluid that drains from the breast through the lymph vessels and goes back to the heart.
|B cells (BEE sells)
White blood cells that produce antibodies. They are an important part of the immune system. Also called: B lymphocytesB lymphocytes (BEE LIM-fo-syts )
SEE: B cells
bacteria (bak-TEE-ree-uh )
Single-cell organisms that cause infections and disease in animals and people.
bacterial toxin (bak-TEE-ree-uhl TOX-in )
A substance made by bacteria that can be harmful. It can also be used to kill specific cancer cells without harming normal cells.
barium enema (BAHR-ee-um EH-nih-muh )
A procedure in which a liquid that contains barium is inserted into the rectum and colon through the anus. Barium is a silver-white metallic compound that helps show the image of the lower gastrointestinal tract on x-ray.
barium solution (BAHR-ee-um soh-LOO-shun )
A liquid containing the chemical barium sulfate. It helps show parts of the digestive system on x-rays.
basophil (BAY-zoh-fill )
A type of white blood cell. White blood cells are part of the immune system. They help protect the body from infection and disease.
benign (beh-NINE )
Has no signs of cancer. The growth of the cells in the tumor, cyst, lump, tissue, or cells is under control. There is no spread to nearby tissue or to other parts of the body.
beta carotene (BAY-tuh KAHR-oh-teen )
Part of the family of vitamins called carotenoids. Some researchers think these vitamins may reduce the risk of getting cancer. Your body uses beta carotene to make vitamin A.
bilateral (by-LAT-er-ul )
Affecting both the right and left sides of body.
bilateral mastectomy (by-LAT-er-ul mass-TEK-tuh-mee )
Surgery that removes all of both breasts.
biochemical reactions (by-oh-KEM-ih-kul ree-AK-shunz )
Chemical activity in living cells that allows them to grow, multiply, and do their daily tasks.
biological therapy (by-oh-LAHDJ-ih-kul THER-uh-pee )
biomarkers (by-oh-MAR-kirz )
These substances are normally present in small amounts in the blood or other tissues. Cancer cells can sometimes make these substances. When the amount of these substances rises above normal, cancer might be present in the body. Examples of biomarkers include CA 125 (ovarian cancer), CA 15-3 and 27-29 (breast cancer), CEA (ovarian, lung, breast, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract cancers), and PSA (prostate cancer).
Removing cells or tissues to examine under a microscope. There are 3 kinds of biopsy: only a sample of tissue is removed (incisional biopsy or core biopsy); a sample of tissue or fluid is removed with a needle (needle biopsy or fine-needle aspiration); a whole tumor or lesion is removed (excisional biopsy).
biopsy specimen (BY-op-see SPESS-uh-min )
Tissue taken from the body and looked at under a microscope to see if it’s normal or abnormal.
blood thinner (blud THIN-ir )
A drug that helps stop blood clots from forming. It can also help break down a clot that’s already formed. Also called: anticoagulant
blood transfusion (blud trans-FYOO-zhun )
When blood, or part of the blood, is injected into a person’s blood vessel. It may be done after you lose a lot of blood. It may also be done when you don’t have enough of a certain part of the blood, like platelets or red blood cells.
blood vessels (blud VESS-ilz )
Tubes that carry blood through the body. They include a network of arteries, arterioles, capillaries, venules, and veins.
blood-brain barrier (blud BRAYN BAHR-ee-ir )
The brain is surrounded by a special layer that protects it from infection. This layer is made up of a network of blood vessels with thick walls. It is hard for bacteria and viruses to get through the thick walls. It is also hard for some substances (like anti-cancer drugs) to get past the walls and into the brain.
A single dose of drug usually injected into a blood vessel over a short period of time. Also called: bolus infusion
bone marrow (boan MAH-row )
The soft, sponge-like tissue in the center of bones that makes white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
bonemarrowablation (boanMAH-rowa-BLAY-shun )
The use of radiation or drugs to destroy bone marrow.
bonemarrowaspiration (boanMAH-rowas-per-AY-shun )
Removing a small sample of bone marrow to examine under a microscope. This is done with a hollow needle, usually from the hip. Also called: bone marrow biopsy
bonemarrowmetastases (boanMAH-rowmeh-TAS-ta-seez )
Cancer that has spread from the place where it started to the inside of the bone, where the bone marrow is.
bone marrow transplantation (boan MAH-row trans-plan-TAY-shun )
Bone marrow can be destroyed by high doses of cancer drugs. This is a procedure in which new marrow is put in place of the destroyed marrow. There are three places to get new marrow cells for a transplant: 1) your own bone marrow that was saved before cancer treatment (autologous); 2) bone marrow given by someone else (allogeneic); and 3) bone marrow given by an identical twin (syngeneic).
bone metastases (boan meh-TAS-ta-seez )
Cancer that has spread from the place where it started to the bone.
bone scan (boan skan )
A technique to create images of bones on a computer screen or on film. It can be used to detect cancer in the bone. It can also show areas where there is arthritis. This test is different from a Dexascan, which measures bone strength.
brachytherapy (BRAKE-ee-THER-a-pee )
A procedure in which radioactive material is placed directly into or near the cancer. The radiation is sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters. Also called: implant radiation, internal radiation, or interstitial radiation
brain metastases (brayn meh-TAS-ta-seez )
Cancer that has spread from the place where it started to the brain.
brain stem (brayn stem )
The part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord.
BRCA1 (bee are see ay wun or BRA-ka wun )
A gene that maintains normal cell growth. If the gene becomes abnormal, then cell growth can become abnormal. The cells can grow out of control, forming a cancer. A woman who inherits an abnormal version of BRCA1 has a higher risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer.
BRCA2 (bee are see ay too or BRA-ka too )
A gene that normally helps to prevent cell growth, especially the growth of abnormal or defective cells. A person who inherits an abnormal version of BRCA2 has a higher risk of getting breast, ovarian, or prostate cancer.
breakthrough pain (BRAKE-throo payn )
Pain that shows up in between doses of regular pain control medicine. It can happen for no reason that we know of. It can come from activity, or it can happen because the dose of regular medicine is not strong enough.
breast reconstruction (brest ree-cun-STRUK-shun )
Surgery to rebuild the breast’s shape after a mastectomy.
breast-conserving surgery (brest con-SERV-ing SUR-jer-ee )
An operation that completely removes the breast cancer along with a rim of normal breast tissue around it. Most of the normal breast is saved. There are 3 main ways this surgery is done: lumpectomy, quadrantectomy, and segmental mastectomy.
BRM therapy (bee are em THER-a-pee )
bronchitis (bron-KITE-is )
Swelling and reddening (inflammation) of the air tubes that go into the lungs. These tubes are called bronchi.
bronchoscopy (bron-KOSS-kuh-pee )
A test that uses a thin tube with a light on the end. It is passed through the nose or mouth into your lungs. This lets doctors look inside the air passages and the lungs. It may be used to find a cancer or to perform a treatment.
bronchus (BRON-kus )
An air tube that leads from the trachea (the main air tube or windpipe) into the lung.
bypass (BY-pass )
When a surgeon creates a new pathway for the flow of body fluids. For example, if blood can’t pass through a blocked artery, a surgeon can bring in a new blood vessel to go around the blockage.
|CA-125 (see ay wun-TWEN-tee-five )
A protein that can be made by abnormal ovary cells. It can be a tumor marker. If it is present in high levels in the blood or in other body fluids or tissues, it may be a sign of ovarian cancer.cachexia (ka-KEK-see-ah )
The loss of body weight and muscle mass often seen in patients with advanced cancer, AIDS, or other diseases.
SEE: computer-aided detection
calcification (kal-si-fih-KAY-shun )
Calcium that builds up in the tissues of the breast. It looks like grains of salt and can be seen on a mammogram. It cannot be found by touch.
calcitonin (kal-sih-TOE-nin )
A hormone made by the thyroid gland. It lowers blood calcium levels.
calcitriol (kal-sih-TREE-ol )
The active form of vitamin D. It is formed in the kidneys. It can also be made in the lab. It is used as a drug to increase calcium levels in the body. This is important to do when kidney or thyroid problems take calcium from the bone or other tissues.
calcium carbonate (KAL-see-um KAR-buh-nayt )
A mineral taken mostly as a supplement to lower the risk of bone loss (osteoporosis). It is also being studied to see if it can help prevent cancer.
cancer (KAN-sir )
The name for diseases in which the body’s cells become abnormal and divide without control. Cancer cells may invade nearby tissues. And they may spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.
cancer vaccine (KAN-sir vak-SEEN )
A vaccine designed to prevent or treat cancer. The vaccine stimulates the body’s immune system to fight a weak cancer agent that’s present in both the vaccine and the cancer.
capsaicin (kap-SAY-ih-sin )
A plant substance found in cayenne and red peppers. It can be applied to the skin to relieve nerve pain.
carcinogen (kar-SIN-oh-jin )
Any substance that causes cancer.
carcinogenesis (KAR-sin-oh-JEN-eh-sis )
The process by which normal cells turn into cancer cells.
carcinoma (kar-sih-NO-ma )
Cancer that begins in skin or tissues that line the inside or cover the outside of internal organs.
carcinomainsitu (kar-sih-NO-mainSYE-too )
Cancer that involves only the small area where it started. It has not spread into normal surrounding breast tissue.
cardiac (KAR-dee-ak )
Having to do with the heart.
cardiopulmonary (KAR-dee-oh-PUL-ma-nair-ee )
Having to do with the heart and lungs.
cardiotoxicity (KAR-dee-oh-tock-SIS-it-ee )
Side effects to the heart.
cardiovascular (KAR-dee-oh-VASS-kyoo-lar )
Having to do with the heart and blood vessels.
carotenoids (ka-ROT-in-oydz )
Chemicals found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables. They are also found in dark green, leafy vegetables. Some researchers think they may reduce the risk of getting cancer.
cartilage (KAR-tih-lidj )
A type of tissue that helps your joints move more smoothly. It forms a smooth, firm, and flexible surface at the ends of bones.
case report (kayce ree-PORT )
A detailed report of the diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of a patient. It also includes information like age, gender, ethnic origin, symptoms, and doctor’s comments.
castration (kass-TRAY-shun )
Removing or stopping the function of the testicles or ovaries. This can be done using radiation, surgery, or drugs.
cauterization (KAW-ter-ih-ZAY-shun )
A procedure that destroys tissue with a hot instrument, an electrical current, or a caustic substance (like acid). For example, a blood vessel might be cauterized to stop it from bleeding during surgery.
CEA(carcinoembryonicantigen) (kar-SIN-oh-em-bree-AHN-ikANT-ih-jen )
A substance that is sometimes found in high levels in the blood of people with certain cancers, in particular colon cancer. High levels of CEA can also indicate breast cancer as well as a number of non-cancerous problems (like inflammation of the bowel).
CEA assay (cee ee aye AH-say )
A laboratory test to measure carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a substance that is sometimes found in high levels in the blood of people who have certain cancers.
The unit that makes up all of the tissues of the body. All living things are made up of one or more cells.
cell differentiation (sell dih-fir-en-shee-AY-shun )
The process during which young, immature cells reach their mature form and function. In this process they turn from unspecialized cells (without individual characteristics) into specialized cells (with characteristics that make them different from other cells).
cell proliferation (sell pro-lif-fir-AY-shun )
An increase in the number of cells as a result of cell growth and cell division.
cellular metabolism (SELL-yoo-ler meh-TAH-boh-lizm )
The process of making energy that occurs in every cell. Each cell needs this energy to remain alive and active.
central nervous system (SEN-trul NIR-vus SIS-tem )
The part of your body’s system of nerves that includes the brain and spinal cord. Also called: CNS
central venous access catheter (SEN-trul VEE-nus AK-sess KATH-eh-ter )
A tube that is inserted into a blood vessel by a surgeon. One end sticks out of the skin. The other end stays inside the vein. It can be used to give fluid and drugs, or to take blood samples.
cerebellum (ser-eh-BELL-um )
The part of the brain in the back of the head between the cerebrum and the brain stem. It controls balance for walking and standing. It also controls other complex body movements.
cerebral hemispheres (seh-REE-bral HEM-iss-feerz )
The two halves of the cerebrum, that part of the brain that controls the body’s muscle functions, as well as learning, speech, reading, writing, and emotions. The right hemisphere controls muscle activity on the left side of the body, and the left hemisphere controls muscle activity on the right side of the body.
cerebrospinalfluid (seh-REE-bro-SPY-nalFLOO-id )
The fluid flowing around the brain and the spinal cord. It provides a safety cushion for the brain and spinal cord. Also called: CSF
cerebrum (seh-REE-brum )
The largest part of the brain. It is divided into two halves, called the cerebral hemispheres. It controls the body’s muscle functions. It also controls other things like learning, speech, reading, writing, and emotions.
cervical (SER-vih-kul )
Relating to your neck, or to the neck of any organ or structure. Cervical lymph nodes are located in the neck. Cervical cancer refers to cancer of the uterine cervix, which is the lower, narrow end of the uterus.
cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN)
(SER-vih-kul in-tra-eh-pih-THEEL-ee-ul nee-o-PLAY-zha )
A general term for the growth of abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix.
cervix (SER-viks )
The lower, narrow end of the uterus. It is the opening of the uterus, located at the top of the vagina.
chemoprotective (kee-mo-pro-TEK-tiv )
The nature of some drugs used in cancer treatment. Chemoprotective agents in protect healthy tissue from the toxic effects of anticancer drugs.
chemosensitivity assay (kee-mo-sen-sih-TIV-it-ee AH-say )
A test to see how well a certain chemotherapy drug kills cancer cells. This is done before the drug is tested in people. Cancer cells and the drug are put in the same lab dish. Then the lab worker counts how many cancer cells are killed by the drug. If many cancer cells are killed, then the drug might work well in a person.
chemosensitizer (kee-mo-SEN-sih-tyz-er )
A drug that makes it easier for chemotherapy to kill cancer cells.
chemotherapeuticagent (kee-mo-ther-a-PYOO-tikAY-jint )
A drug used to kill cancer cells or make them less active.
chemotherapy (kee-mo-THER-uh-pee )
Treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells or make them less active.
chest wall (chest wahl )
The area of the body behind the breast, between the neck and abdomen. It includes ribs, sternum (breast-bone), muscles, and joints.
chromosome (KRO-mo-soam )
A chain of genes. You have 46 chromosomes in each cell in your body, except your reproductive cells (eggs or sperm). The reproductive cells have only 23 chromosomes. When the egg and sperm combine, they produce a cell that has a full set of 46 chromosomes. This is how you pass genes on to your children.
chronic (KRON-ik )
A disease or condition that goes on over a long period of time. Often, it cannot be cured but it can be controlled.
circulatory system (SIR-kyoo-la-tor-ee SIS-tim )
The system that contains the heart and the blood vessels, and moves blood throughout the body. The circulatory system delivers oxygen and nutrients to the tissues. It also helps the tissues get rid of waste products. The lymph system, which connects with the blood system, is often considered part of the circulatory system.
clinical resistance (KLIH-nih-kul ree-ZISS-tince )
When a cancer does not respond to treatment. The cancer may stay the same size, grow bigger, or involve new areas of the body.
clinical trial (KLIH-nih-kul TRY-ul )
Research that tests how well new medical treatments or other medical practices work in people. Each study is carefully designed to test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a disease. Also called: clinical study
CNS metastases (see en ess meh-TAS-ta-seez )
Cancer that has spread from the original/main (primary) tumor to the central nervous system.
colitis (KOH-lye-tis )
Inflammation of the colon.
A long, tube-shaped organ that carries food from the small intestine to the rectum. In order to fit into your abdomen, it is folded many times. Its job is to remove water, some nutrients, and chemicals that your body needs from the digested food. The leftover solid waste (called stool or bowel movement) moves through the colon to the rectum and leaves the body through the anus.
colonoscopy (kol-un-AHS-ko-pee )
A test that looks inside the colon using a thin tube with a light on the end. The tube is put into the rectum.
colony-stimulating factors (KAHL-on-ee STIM-yoo-late-ing FAK-tirz )
Substances that stimulate the production of blood cells. Colony-stimulating factors include granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (also called G-CSF and filgrastim), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factors (also called GM-CSF and sargramostim), and promegapoietin.
colorectal (koh-lo-REK-tul )
Having to do with the colon or the rectum.
colostomy (koh-LAHS-toe-mee )
An opening into the colon from the wall of the abdomen. It provides a new path for waste (stool) to leave the body after part of the colon has been removed.
combinationchemotherapy (kom-bin-AY-shunkee-mo-THER-a-pee )
Treatment using more than one anticancer drug.
comedo (KAH-meh-doe )
A type of cancer that does not usually spread outside the part of the breast where it began. It tends to grow faster than normal cells.
comedocarcinoma (KAH-meh-doekar-sih-NO-ma )
A type of non-invasive cancer that usually does not spread. Some of the cancer cells die off and form small groups, called “comedo necrosis”. (Necrosis means dead cells.) It tends to grow fast and suggests a higher risk of invasive cancer in the future.
compassionate use (kum-PASH-un-et yoose )
Refers to providing a new, experimental drug to a patient on humanitarian grounds, before the drug has received official approval for patient use.
complementary and alternative medicine (kom-pluh-MEN-tree and all-TIR-nah-tiv MED-ih-sin )
Practices not generally recognized by the medical community as standard or conventional medical approaches, used to enhance or complement standard medical treatments. Their purpose is to strengthen your whole mind and body to maximize your health, energy, and well-being. These practices are not considered “standard” medical approaches. They include dietary supplements, vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, massage therapy, acupuncture, spiritual healing, visualization, and meditation. Also called: CAM
complete remission (kum-PLEET ree-MISH-in )
When all signs of cancer disappear in response to treatment. This is based on your symptoms, physical exam, and radiology and lab tests. This does not always mean the cancer has been cured. Also called: complete response
compression bandage (kum-PRESH-un BAN-didj )
A bandage that puts pressure on a particular area of the body. It is usually used to reduce swelling and increase the flow of blood and lymph fluid.
computer-aideddetection (kum-PYOO-terAY-diddeh-TEKT-shun )
A method that turns the image on a mammogram film into a computer image. A computer program can then be used to highlight areas on the image that may be abnormal. A radiologist can look at the highlights and decide if you may need more tests or not. Also called: CAD
computerized axial tomography scan (com-PYOO-ter-eyzd AK-see-al tuh-MAH-gra-fee skan )
A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles, created by an x-ray machine linked to a computer. Also called: CAT scan, computed tomography, CT scan, and computerized tomography.
concurrent therapy (kun-KUR-ent THER-a-pee )
A treatment that is given at the same time as another treatment.
congestive heart failure (kun-JES-tiv hart FAYL-yur )
A condition in which the heart cannot pump blood effectively. This leads to a buildup of fluid in body tissues.
consolidation therapy (kun-sah-lih-DAY-shun THER-uh-pee )
Another phase of treatments given to reinforce the response to an earlier phase. This is done to further reduce the number of cancer cells that may be present.
continuousinfusion (kun-TIN-yoo-usin-FYOO-zhun )
Putting fluid into a blood vessel over a period of time. This is done through a needle.
contralateral (kon-truh-LAT-ah-rul )
Having to do with the opposite side of the body.
contralateral mastectomy (kon-truh-LAT-ah-rul mass-TEK-tuh-mee )
Removing the breast on the other side, opposite from the first breast that was treated. This may be done to lower the chance of cancer showing up on that side.
controlledclinicaltrial (kun-TROLEDKLIH-nih-kulTRY-ul )
A clinical study that compares people getting treatment (treatment group) to people who do not receive this treatment (control group). The patients in the control group get no treatment at all (just a dummy pill, called a placebo), or a different treatment than the one being tested. Also called: controlled study
conventionaltreatment (kun-VEN-shun-ulTREET-mint )
An accepted and widely used treatment for a certain type of disease. This is based on the results of past research and experience. This term is often used as a contrast to complementary or alternative therapy. You usually get conventional treatment from doctors and nurses in a hospital or clinic.
Also called: conventional therapy
cooperative group (koh-OP-er-ah-tiv groop )
A group of doctors, hospitals, or both, working together to treat a large number of people in the same way. This is done so that new treatment can be tested quickly. Clinical trials of new cancer treatments often require many more people than a single doctor or hospital can care for.
core biopsy (kor BY-op-see )
Removal of a tissue sample with a hollow needle. The tissue is then looked at under the microscope to see if it’s normal or abnormal.
corticosteroids (kort-ih-KO-stir-oyds )
Hormones that fight cancer activity in lymphomas and lymphoid leukemias. Corticosteroids (steroids) may also be used for hormone replacement and for the management of some of the complications of cancer and its treatment.
cortisone (KOR-tih-zoan )
A natural steroid hormone made in the adrenal gland. It can also be made in the laboratory. Cortisone reduces swelling and can lower your immune system’s ability to respond.
cribriform (KRIH-breh-form )
A type of non-invasive cancer that is not likely to spread. It usually grows slowly.
cruciferousvegetables (kroo-SIH-fir-usVEDJ-tah-bulz )
A family of vegetables that includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, and turnips. They contain substances that may protect you against cancer.
cryosurgery (KRY-oh-SIR-jer-ee )
Treatment performed with an instrument that freezes and destroys tissue. It can be used to treat cancer. This is a form of cryotherapy.
cryotherapy (KRY-oh-THER-uh-pee )
Any method that uses cold temperature to treat disease.
CT scan (see tee skan)
SEE: computerized axial tomography scan
cutaneous breast cancer (kyoo-TAY-nee-us brest KAN-sir )
Cancer that has spread from the breast to the skin.
A sac or capsule filled with fluid.
cytopenia (sy-toe-PEE-nee-ah )
A reduction in the number of blood cells.
cytotoxic (sy-toe-TOK-sik )
A term used to describe anything that kills cells.
cytotoxicchemotherapy (sy-toe-TOK-sikkee-mo-THER-a-pee )
Drugs that kill cancer cells.
|D&C (dee and see)
SEE: dilation and curettageDCIS (deeseeeyeess)
SEE: ductal carcinoma in situ or intraductal carcinoma
deep inferior epigastric perforator tissue flap (deep in-FEE-ree-er ep-ih-GASS-trik PER-fer-ay-tir TISH-yoo flap )
A flap of skin and fat taken from the lower abdomen that is used for breast reconstruction. Its advantage over the TRAM flap method of breast reconstruction is that it does not use the abdominal wall muscle. Its advantage over the TRAM flap method of breast reconstruction is that it does not use the abdominal wall muscle and tends to shorten recovery time. Also called: DIEP tissue flap
dermatitis (der-mah-TIE-tis )
Swelling and redness of the skin that can be uncomfortable or painful. These changes are also sign of inflammation.
dermis (DER-mis )
One of the main parts of your skin. It forms the inside layer. (The outside layer of the skin is called the epidermis.)
An estrogen-like hormone used in the past to help women prevent miscarriage. Daughters of women who used DES have an increased risk of cancer of the vagina. It may also increase the risk of breast cancer in women who used it, as well as their daughters. Also called: diethylstilbestrol
diagnostic procedure (dye-ag-NOSS-tik proe-SEE-djur )
A method used to see if a disease is present or not. It is also used to figure out what kind of disease is present.
diagnostic trial (dye-ag-NOSS-tik TRY-ul )
A research study that looks at methods of detecting disease.
dialysis (dye-AL-ih-sis )
A way to clean the blood when the kidneys are not working properly. (Cleaning the blood is usually the kidneys’ job.) The blood passes through a special machine that removes chemicals, waste products, and toxins.
diameter (dye-A-mih-tir )
A straight line that starts on one edge of a circle or sphere, passes through the middle (center), and ends on the opposite edge. The diameter of a cancer usually refers to the place where it is the longest.
diaphragm (DYE-ah-fram )
A thin muscle below the lungs and heart. It separates the chest from the abdomen. It helps you move air in and out of your lungs as you breathe.
DIEP tissue flap (deep TISH-yoo flap )
SEE: deep inferior epigastric perforator tissue flap
differentiation (diff-er-en-shee-AY-shun )
Describes how mature the breast cancer cells are compared to normal breast cells. Well-differentiated tumor cells that are mature look a lot like normal breast cells and tend to grow slowly. Undifferentiated, or poorly differentiated, tumor cells do not look or work like normal cells. They grow quickly and have a tendency to spread.
dilationandcurettage (dye-LAY-shunandKYUR-ih-tahj )
A procedure that removes the inside lining of the uterus. First the cervix is opened (or dilated) so that a small spoon-shaped instrument (called a curette) can be put into the uterus. Then the curette is used to take out the uterine lining. Also called: D&C
dilator (DYE-lay-ter )
A device used to stretch or enlarge an opening or tube.
disease-specific survival (dih-ZEEZ speh-SIH-fik sir-VYE-vul )
The percentage of people in a study who have survived a particular disease since diagnosis or treatment. Only deaths from the disease are counted. Subjects who died from some other cause are not counted.
disseminate (dih-SEM-ih-nate )
Scatter or distribute over a large area.
distant cancer (DISS-tent KAN-sir )
Refers to cancer that has spread from the place where it started to distant organs or distant lymph nodes in the body.
DNA (dee en ay)
The molecules inside cells that carry genetic information. DNA directs the production of proteins that regulate cell activity and growth. DNA is passed from old cells to new cells. And genes are passed from parent to child, from one generation to the next. Also called: deoxyribonucleic acid
dose rate (doce rayt )
The amount of a treatment given over a period of time.
dose-dependent (doce deh-PEN-dint )
Refers to the effects of a treatment like chemotherapy, antibiotics, or radiation. If the effects change when the dose of the treatment is changed, the effects are called dose-dependent.
dose-limiting (doce LIM-ih-ting )
When side effects of a drug or other treatment are serious enough to prevent an increase in dose or level of treatment.
double-blinded (DUH-buhl BLYN-did )
A type of clinical trial designed to fairly compare different forms of treatment. Neither the medical staff nor the patient knows which of several possible therapies the patient is receiving. This way, any expectation or prejudice about treatment results can be avoided.
A tiny part of the body shaped like a tube or pipe. Body fluids pass through it— for example: tear ducts, bile ducts, and milk ducts.
ductal carcinoma in situ (DUK-tal kar-sih-NO-ma in SYE-too )
Abnormal breast cells that involve only the lining of a milk duct. These cells have not spread outside the duct into the normal surrounding breast tissue. Also called: DCIS or intraductal carcinoma
dysplasia (dis-PLAY-zha )
Cells that do not look normal under a microscope but are not cancer.
|edema (eh-DEE-ma )
Swelling caused by too much fluid in body tissues.EGFR (eedjeeeffare)
SEE: epidermal growth factor receptor
electrolytes (eh-LEK-tro-lyts )
Special forms of chemicals that are normally in your body. Each carries a very tiny electrical charge. They maintain the balance of fluids throughout your body. They guide the flow of nutrients into cells and the movement of waste out of cells. Some examples are sodium, potassium, chloride, and calcium.
electron microscope (eh-LEK-tron MY-kruh-skope )
A microscope that uses electrons (tiny parts of atoms), instead of light, to make a big image of a tiny part of the body. An electron microscope shows tiny details better than any other type of microscope.
embolism (EM-buh-lizm )
The blockage of an artery. This can be caused by blood clots, small balls of fat, infected tissue, or cancer cells.
embolization (em-buh-lih-ZAY-shun )
A procedure that blocks an artery with a clot or foreign material. This may be used to block blood flow to a cancer. As a result, the cancer starves, shrivels up, and dies off. This only works if a cancer is fed by one or very few blood vessels.
encapsulated (en-KAP-suh-lay-ted )
Contained in a specific, localized area and surrounded by a thin layer of tissue.
endocrine therapy (EN-doe-krin THER-uh-pee )
SEE: hormone therapy
endocrinologist (EN-doe-krin-AH-lo-jist )
A doctor who is a specialist in hormone problems.
endogenous (en-DADJ-in-us )
Produced inside an organism or cell, the opposite of external (exogenous) production.
endometrial (en-doe-MEE-tree-ul )
Having to do with the endometrium (the layer of tissue that lines the inside of the uterus).
endometrial biopsy (en-doe-MEE-tree-ul BY-op-see )
A test that takes a sample of tissue from the lining of the uterus. Then the tissue is looked at under a microscope to see if it is normal or abnormal.
endometrial cancer (en-doe-MEE-tree-ul KAN-sir )
Cancer of the inner lining of the uterus.
endometrial disorder (en-doe-MEE-tree-al dis-OR-der )
Abnormal cell growth in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus.
endometriosis (en-doe-mee-tree-OH-sis )
A condition in which tissue that is like the lining of the uterus grows in abnormal places outside the uterus. This can happen in the pelvis or in the abdomen. This is not a cancer. But it can result in cysts, pain, infertility problems, and other symptoms.
endometrium (en-doe-MEE-tree-um )
The layer of tissue that lines the inside of the uterus.
endoscopy (en-DAHS-koh-pee )
The use of a thin, lighted tube (called an endoscope) to examine the inside of the body.
endothelial cell (en-doe-THEE-lee-ul sell )
The main type of cell found on the inside lining of blood vessels, lymph vessels, and the heart.
The injection of liquid through the anus into the large bowel.
enzyme (EN-zym )
A protein that speeds up chemical reactions in the body.
epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) (ep-ih-DER-mul growth FAK-tir ree-SEP-tir )
The receptor protein found on the surface of some cells and to which the epidermal growth factor binds, causing the cells to divide. EGFR appears to be a cancer stimulant, found at abnormally high levels on the surface of many types of cancer cells, and may be why these cells divide excessively if the epidermal growth factor is also present. Also called: ErbB1 or HER1.
epidermis (ep-ih-DER-mis )
The outer layer of the skin.
epidermoid carcinoma (ep-ih-DER-moyd kar-sih-NO-ma )
SEE: squamous cell carcinoma
epidural (ep-ih-DUR-ahl )
The space between the lining of the spinal canal and the covering of the spinal cord. An epidural injection goes into this space.
epidural block (ep-ih-DUR-ahl blok )
An injection of a drug that lowers pain. It goes into the space between the lining of the spinal canal and the covering of the spinal cord. Also called: epidural injection
epithelial (ep-ih-THEE-lee-ul )
Refers to the cells that line the inside and outside surfaces of the body.
epithelium (ep-ih-THEE-lee-um )
A thin layer of cells that line the inside surface of organs, glands, and other structures within the body.
ER-, ER-negative (ee-are NEG-eh-tiv )
SEE: estrogen receptor negative
ER (ee are)
ER+, ER-positive (ee-are POZ-eh-tiv )
SEE: estrogen receptor positive
ErbB1 (erb wun)
SEE: epidermal growth factor receptor
SEE: estrogen receptor down-regulators
SEE: estrogen replacement therapy
erythrocytes (eh-RITH-roh-sites )
erythropoietin (eh-RITH-ro-POE-eh-tin )
A chemical that stimulates the production of new red blood cells. It is made in the kidney. If EPO levels are low, then the number of red blood cells is reduced (a condition called anemia). Also called: EPO
esophagram (eh-SOF-ah-gram )
A series of x-rays of the esophagus (the tube that takes food from the mouth to the stomach). First you drink a solution with the chemical barium, then the x-rays are taken. The barium helps show the inside of the esophagus on the x-rays.
esophagus (eh-SOF-ah-gus )
The muscular tube through which food passes from the throat to the stomach.
estrogen (ESS-truh-jin )
The major female sex hormone. It is made mainly in the ovaries for women before menopause. It is made in muscles and fat tissue for women after menopause.
estrogen receptor (ESS-truh-jin ree-SEP-ter )
A special type of protein found on some cancer cells. Estrogen attaches to it, and this can cause the cancer cells to grow. Also called: ER
estrogen receptor down-regulators (ESS-truh-jin ree-SEP-ter down-REG-yoo-lay-ter )
A group of drugs used against estrogen receptors found on breast cancer cells. When the receptors stop working, the cells get fewer signals telling them to
grow. This can slow down or stop the growth of the cancer. Faslodex (chemical name: fulvestrant) belongs to this group of drugs. Also called: ERDs
estrogen receptor negative (ESS-truh-jin ree-SEP-ter NEG-eh-tiv )
Breast cancer cells without estrogen receptors. Estrogen receptors are special proteins that the hormone estrogen binds to. ER-negative breast cancer cells do not depend on estrogen to grow. Anti-estrogen hormonal therapy has no role against this type of cancer. Also called: ER-
estrogen receptor positive (ESS-truh-jin ree-SEP-ter POZ-eh-tiv )
Breast cancer cells that have estrogen receptors. Estrogen receptors are special proteins that the hormone estrogen binds to. Breast cancer cells that are ER+ depend on estrogen to grow. Anti-estrogen hormonal therapy blocks the receptors or reduces the amount of estrogen that can get into the receptors. As a result, the cancer cells may shrink or die. Also called: ER+
estrogen replacement therapy (ESS-truh-jin ree-PLAYSS-mint THER-uh-pee )
When the hormone estrogen is given to women after menopause. It is used to ease symptoms of menopause. Also called: ERT
etiology (ee-tee-AHL-oh-jee )
The cause or origin of disease.
etoposide (et-oh-POE-side )
An anticancer drug that is a podophyllotoxin derivative and belongs to the family of drugs called mitotic inhibitors.
excisional biopsy (ek-SIH-zhun-al BY-op-see )
Surgery that takes out an entire lump or suspicious area to be checked under a microscope
external radiation (ex-TIR-nul ray-dee-AY-shun )
A type of radiation therapy. It uses a machine to create and aim high-energy radiation at the cancer or the area where the cancer used to be. Also called: external-beam radiation
|fallopian tubes (fah-LOW-pee-in toobz )
The tubes that carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus.fatty acids (FA-tee AA-sids)
A major part of the fat your body uses for energy and tissue growth.
fecal occult blood test (FEE-kul oh-KULT blud test )
A test to check for blood in stool.
fertility (fer-TILL-ih-tee )
Being able to have children.
The parts of fruits and vegetables that cannot be digested. Fiber may be helpful in lowering the risk of colon cancer. But this is still not proven. Fiber is sometimes called bulk, or roughage.
fibrocystic breast disease (FYE-broh-SIS-tik brest dih-ZEEZ )
Breast gland tissue build-up or cysts. They can become swollen and painful. They are not cancerous. But some types of fibrocystic changes are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in the future.
fibroid (FYE-broyd )
A type of benign (non-cancerous) tumor. It is usually found in the wall of the uterus or digestive system. Also called: leiomyoma
fibrosarcoma (FYE-broh-sar-KO-ma )
A type of cancer. It begins in the fibrous tissue that holds bones, muscles, and other organs in place.
fibrosis (fye-BROH-sis )
The growth of fibrous tissue.
fine-needle aspiration (fyn NEE-dul ass-per-AY-shun )
A test that uses a hollow needle to remove tissue or fluid. Then the material is looked at under a microscope to see if it is normal or abnormal. Also called: needle biopsy
SEE: fluorescence in situ hybridization
fluorescence in situ hybridization (flur-ESS-ince in SY-too hi-brid-ih-ZAY- shun )
A lab test that measures the amount of a certain gene in cells. It can be used to see if an invasive cancer has too many HER2 genes. Also called: FISH
fluoroscopy (floor-AHS-kuh-pee )
An x-ray procedure that shows you a moving picture of what’s going on inside the body.
folic acid (FOH-lik AA-sid )
A vitamin that is part of the B vitamin family. It is found in green vegetables, fruit, and liver. Studies are looking at whether it can help reduce the risk of cancer. Also called: folate
fractionation (frak-shun-AY-shun )
Dividing the total dose of radiation therapy into smaller, equal doses. The smaller doses are usually given over a period of weeks.
free radicals (free RA-dih-kulz )
The chemicals released in a process called oxidation. Oxidation is when molecules in cells split and become unstable. This unstable activity causes a chain reaction in the surrounding molecules. The resulting free radicals can harm important molecules in the cells, including genes. Free radicals can work both for us and against us: Increased free radical activity might combine with other factors to cause some cancers. On the other hand, radiation therapy works in part by creating free radicals.
|gastric (GASS-trik )
Having to do with the stomach.gastroenterologist (GASS-troh-en-ter-AHL-uh-jist )
A doctor who is a specialist in diagnosing and treating disorders of the digestive system.
gastrointestinal (GASS-troh-in-TESS-tih-nul )
Refers to the stomach and intestines.
gastrointestinaltract (GASS-troh-in-TESS-tih-nultrakt )
The stomach and intestines.
gastroscope (GASS-troh-skope )
A thin, lighted tube used to look inside the stomach.
gastroscopy (gass-TROS-koh-pee )
A test that lets doctors look inside the stomach. A thin tube with a light on the end is passed through the mouth and esophagus into the stomach. It may be used to look for ulcers, find a cancer, or treat a disorder.
The basic unit of a cell that passes on the traits of parents to their children through the egg and sperm. Genes are pieces of DNA. They have information for making specific proteins that control specific traits or activities. Examples of traits controlled by genes are eye color, foot size, and height. Examples of activity include the growth and repair of cells.
gene deletion (jeen deh-LEE-shun )
The total loss or absence of a gene.
gene therapy (jeen THER-uh-pee )
Treatment that tries to fix a gene that’s causing a cancer or making the cancer grow. It may also help the body’s ability to fight the cancer. It may help make cancer cells easier to attack with new treatments.
gene-modified (jeen MAH-dih-fied )
When the genetic material in cells has been changed from what it used to be.
genetic (jeh-NEH-tik )
The traits that parents pass on to their children. These traits are determined by genes in the father’s sperm and the mother’s egg.
genetic counseling (jeh-NEH-tik KOWN-suh-ling )
Advice from a specially trained counselor who can help you figure out the connection between your family’s genes and your risk of a disease (like cancer). The counselor gets facts about your family and your health. Testing can be the next step. It could help you to understand your own situation and make decisions to reduce the chance of getting cancer.
genetic markers (jeh-NEH-tik MAR-kirs )
Changes in genes that can be found by a medical test. If these changes are present, they may increase the risk of getting a certain disease.
genetic testing (jeh-NEH-tik TES-ting )
Checking a person’s genes to see if there are changes that could lead to an increased risk for getting a specific disease.
genitourinary system (jeh-nih-toe-YUR-in-air-ee SIS-tem )
The parts of the body involved in sexuality, reproduction and in making and getting rid of urine. In a woman, it includes the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, vagina, clitoris, vulva. It also includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
germline mutation (JERM-line myoo-TAY-shun )
SEE: hereditary mutation
ginseng (JIN-seng )
An herb root used in some cultures to boost energy and treat some medical problems. Some people believe ginseng can help your body fight cancer.
This word has a few different meanings. It can be a group of cells or an organ that makes one or more substances used in the body, like sweat, milk, mucus, hormones, and growth factors. Other glands filter and remove substances from the blood or lymph fluid. Some people use the word “gland” to describe lymph nodes.
glucocorticoid (gloo-koh-KOR-tih-koid )
A compound that belongs in the family of corticosteroids (steroids). Glucocorticoids affect metabolism, and reduce inflammation and the body’s normal immune reaction. They may be naturally produced (hormones) or synthetic (drugs).
glutamine (GLOO-tah-meen )
A type of amino acid that builds proteins. It is very important for your nutrition. It is also used to make medicine. The benefits of glutamine are being studied in many ways.
glycoprotein (gly-ko-PRO-teen )
A protein that has sugar molecules attached to it.
grade (grayd )
The grade of a tumor depends on how abnormal the cancer cells look under a microscope and how fast the cancer cells are growing. The pathology report may describe 2 different kinds of grade: nuclear grade and histologic grade. Nuclear grade describes the nucleus (headquarters of the cell that contains the DNA). Histologic grade describes what the rest of the cell looks like.
grading (GRAY-ding )
A system for classifying cancer cells in terms of how abnormal they appear when examined under a microscope. The point of a grading system is to provide information about the probable growth rate of the cancer and its tendency to spread. The systems used to grade cancers vary with each type of cancer. Grading is important for treatment decisions.
granulocyte (GRAN-yoo-loh-site )
A type of white blood cell that fights infection. Neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils are all granulocytes.
granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) (GRAN-yoo-loh-site KOL-uh-nee STIM-yoo-lay-ting FAK-ter )
A substance that turns on the production of blood cells during chemotherapy. It belongs to the family of drugs called growth factors. A hematopoietic agent.
granulocytopenia (GRAN-yoo-loh-site-oh-PEE-nee-uh )
A condition in which there are not enough granulocytes. These are white blood cells that fight infection.
The area the body between the tops of the legs and the abdomen. Some people use the word “groin” to refer to the genitals between the legs.
growth factors (growth FAK-ters )
Substances made by the body that control when cells grow, divide, and rest. Some growth factors are also made in the laboratory. They are used to boost the body’s immune system.
gynecologiconcologist (guy-neh-koh-LAH-jikon-KAH-loh-jist )
A doctor who specializes in treating cancers of the female reproductive organs. These organs include the vulva, vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
gynecologist (guy-nih-KOL-uh-jist )
A doctor who specializes in taking care of women. This kind of doctor focuses on preventing and treating illnesses of the female reproductive organs.
|hematogenous (hee-mah-TAH-jeh-nus )
This term refers to something that starts in the blood or spreads through the bloodstream.hematopoiesis (he-MA-toe-poe-EE-sis )
The process of forming new blood cells in the body.
hematopoietic tissue (he-MA-toe-poi-EH-tik TISH-yoo )
Tissue in which new blood cells are formed.
hepatic (heh-PA-tik )
Refers to the liver.
HER1 (her wun)
The protein found on the surface of some cells and to which the epidermal growth factor binds, causing the cells to divide. This epidermal growth factor receptor is found at abnormally high levels on the surface of many types of cancer cells, and may be why these cells divide as actively as they do. Also called: epidermal growth factor receptor, EGFR, or ErbB1
HER2 (her too)
SEE: human epidermal growth factor receptor 2
HER2/neu (her too new)
SEE: human epidermal growth factor receptor 2
HER2/neu gene (her too new jeen)
The gene that makes the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. The protein produced is HER2/neu antigen, which is involved in the growth of some cancer cells. Also called : c-erbB-2
hereditary (heh-REH-dih-tair-ee )
Traits that are carried by genes from one generation to the next, parent to child.
hereditarymutation (heh-REH-dih-tair-eemyoo-TAY-shun )
When a change in a gene is passed from parent to child. This happens when a gene changes in a way that is not normal inside the mother’s egg or the father’s sperm. The child that comes from this egg or sperm gets the gene change in every cell of the body. The change can be passed on from one generation to the next. Also called: germline mutation
herpes virus (HER-peez VYE-rus )
A virus that can cause skin rash, blisters, and ulcers that are painful, itchy, and burning. It can affect different parts of the body. It often affects the face, lips, or genitals. It is the virus that causes chicken pox and shingles.
heterogeneous (heh-ter-oh-JEEN-ee-us )
Coming from different sources. For example, a heterogeneous cancer is made up of different kinds of cancer cells.
hormonalablation (hor-MOH-nulah-BLAY-shun )
Blocking or stopping the ovaries from making hormones. This can be done by taking the ovaries out or with drug treatment.
hormonal therapy (hor-MOH-nul THER-uh-pee )
SEE: hormone therapy
hormone receptor (HOR-moan ree-SEP-ter )
A protein on the surface or inside a cell. It connects to a certain hormone and causes changes in the cell.
hormone receptor negative (HOR-moan ree-SEP-ter NEG-eh-tiv)
Breast cancer cells without hormone receptors. These receptors are special proteins that the hormones estrogen and progesterone bind to. HR-negative breast cancer cells do not depend on estrogen or progesterone to grow. Anti- estrogen hormonal therapy has no role against this type of cancer.
Also called: HR-
hormone receptor positive (HOR-moan ree-SEP-ter POS-ih-tiv)
Breast cancer cells that have hormone receptors. These receptors are special proteins that the hormones estrogen and progesterone bind to. Breast cancer cells that are HR-positive depend on estrogen and progesterone to grow. Hormonal therapy blocks the receptors or reduces the amount of hormones that can get into the receptors. As a result, the cancer cells shrink or die. Also called: HR+
hormone receptor test (HOR-moan ree-SEP-ter test )
A test to measure the amount of certain proteins, called hormone receptors, in cancer tissue. A high level of hormone receptors may mean that the cancer will respond well to hormonal treatment.
hormonereplacementtherapy (HOR-moanree-PLAYSS-mintTHER-uh-pee )
Hormones (estrogen, progesterone, or both) given to women after menopause. They are used to ease symptoms of menopause. Also called: HRT
hormone therapy (HOR-moan THER-uh-pee )
Cancer treatment that removes, blocks, or adds hormones. Also called: hormonal therapy or endocrine therapy
hormones (HOR-moanz )
Chemicals made by glands in the body. They circulate in the blood and control the actions of certain cells or organs. For example, estrogen is made in the ovary, travels in the blood to the breast, and can stimulate the growth of breast cells.
HR-, HR-negative (aych are NEH-geh-tiv)
SEE: hormone receptor negative
HR+, HR-positive (aych are PAH-zih-tiv)
SEE: hormone receptor positive
SEE: hormone replacement therapy
human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HYOO-mun eh-pih-DER-mul grothe FAK-ter reh-SEP-ter too )
A gene that helps control how cells grow, divide, and repair themselves. It is important in the control of abnormal or defective cells that could become cancerous. Also called: HER2 or HER2/neu
hydrogen peroxide (HI-droh-jen per-OK-side )
A chemical used in bleaches, dyes, and cleansers. It is also used to kill bacteria and other causes of infection. In high concentrations it is toxic.
hyperbaric oxygen (HY-per-BAR-ik OK-sih-jen )
Oxygen that is under extra pressure. Scientists are looking at whether breathing hyperbaric oxygen can make radiation therapy more effective. Breathing hyperbaric oxygen can also improve difficult-to-heal wounds.
hypercalcemia (HY-per-kal-SEE-mee-ah )
When the level of calcium in the blood is too high.
hyperfractionation (HY-per-frak-shun-AY-shun )
When radiation therapy is given in smaller-than-usual doses two or three times a day, instead of a larger dose once a day.
hyperglycemia (HY-per-gly-SEE-mee-ah )
When the level of sugar in your blood is too high.
Hypericum perforatum (hy-PAIR-ih-kum per-feh-RAY-tum )
SEE: St. John’s wort
hyperplasia (HY-per-PLAY-zha )
Cells in an organ or tissue that are growing too fast.
hypersensitivity (HY-per-sen-sih-TIH-vih-tee )
An exaggerated response by the immune system to a drug or other substance.
hypertension (HY-per-TEN-shun )
When one’s blood pressure is too high.
hyperthermiatreatment (HY-per-THER-mee-ahTREET-mint )
A type of treatment that heats body tissue to a high temperature. It is used to damage and kill cancer cells. Or it can make cancer cells more sensitive to the effects of radiation and chemotherapy.
hypoglycemia (HY-poh-gly-SEE-mee-ah )
When the level of sugar in one’s blood is too low.
hypotension (HY-poe-TEN-shun )
When one’s blood pressure is too low.
hypoxic (hi-POK-sik )
When there is too little oxygen present.
hysterectomy (hiss-teh-REK-tuh-mee )
An operation that removes the uterus.
SEE: infiltrating ductal carcinomaidiopathic (ih-dee-oh-PA-thik )
Describes a disease whose cause is not known.
IHC (eye aych see)
SEE: invasive lobular carcinoma
IM (eye em)
IM injection (eye em in-JEK-shun )
SEE: intramuscular injection
imagery (IH-midj-ree )
A technique that can help ease anxiety and make you more relaxed. To do this, you fill your mind with images or pictures of beautiful and peaceful places.
imaging (IH-midj-ing )
Methods of producing pictures of areas inside the body. Examples of these are X-rays, mammogram, and ultrasound.
imaging procedures (IH-midj-ing proh-SEE-djurz )
Methods of producing pictures of areas inside the body.
immune function (ih-MYOON FUNK-shun )
The making of cells that fight infection or disease and the action of these cells.
immune response (ih-MYOON ree-SPONS )
The action of the immune system against invaders from outside the body.
immune system (ih-MYOON sis-tem )
The complex group of organs and cells that defends the body against infection or disease.
immunocompromised (IH-myoo-noh-KOM-pro-mized )
Having an immune system that is weak because of treatment or disease.
immunodeficiency (IH-myoo-noh-dih-FIH-shin-see )
The ability of the body to fight infection and disease is low.
immunohistochemistry (IH-myoo-noh-hiss-toe-KEH-miss-tree )
The science that develops specific antibodies to fight disease, or to mark and detect disease with specific antigens or receptors. For example, the IHC test can be used to detect hormone receptors and the presence of too much HER-2/neu protein in breast cancer cells. Also called: IHC
immunosuppression (IH-myoo-noh-suh-PREH-shun )
A way to make the body’s immune system weak so it is less able to fight infection or disease. It also makes the body less likely to reject a transplant. Sometimes, if you’ve had a transplant, your doctor may use special drugs to weaken your immune system. At other times, it’s harmful to have a weak immune system. This could happen as a side effect of treatment (like from chemotherapy). Or it can be a part of a disease, like AIDS.
immunosuppressivetherapy (IH-myoo-noh-suh-PREH-siveTHER-uh-pee )
Engineered assistance to the immune system, using antibodies developed for attacking specific cancer cells.
immunotherapy (IH-myoo-noh-THER-uh-pee )
Treatment to help the body’s defense system (immune system) fight infection and disease. It is also used to help the immune system heal from the side effects of cancer treatment. Also called: biological therapy, biological response modifier therapy, or BRM therapy
implant radiation (IM-plant ray-dee-AY-shun )
in situ cancer (in SYE-too KAN-sir )
Early cancer that has not spread into nearby tissue.
in vitro (in VEE-troh )
A process that takes place in the laboratory – outside the body. (This is the opposite of in vivo, which means “in the body.”)
in vivo (in VEE-voh )
A process that takes place in the body. (This is the opposite of in vitro, which means “outside the body,” or “in the laboratory.”)
incidence (IN-sih-dens )
How often something happens – for example, the number of new cases of a disease diagnosed each year.
incision (in-SIH-zhun )
A cut made through the skin or in the body during surgery.
incisional biopsy (in-SIH-zhun-ul BY-op-see )
Surgery in which a part of a lump or suspicious area is taken out of the body. It is then looked at under a microscope to see if it’s normal or abnormal.
incontinence (in-KON-tih-nens )
When a person loses control over urine or stool (bowel movements). He or she becomes unable to stop the flow of urine from the bladder (urinary incontinence) or loss of stool from the rectum (fecal incontinence).
indole-3-carbinol (IN-doal three KAR-bin-ahl )
A substance that is being studied to see if it can help prevent cancer. It is found in certain types of vegetables. These include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.
indolent (IN-duh-lent )
Slow-growing, not aggressive.
induction therapy (in-DUK-shun THER-uh-pee )
Treatment used as a first step toward shrinking the cancer. It is also used to see how the cancer responds to specific drugs and other agents. It is followed by more therapy to get rid of any remaining cancer.
infertility (in-fer-TIH-lih-tee )
Not being able to have children.
infiltrating cancer (IN-fil-tray-ting KAN-sir )
SEE: invasive cancer
infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IN-fil-tray-ting DUK-til kar-sih-NO-ma )
A cancer that can invade other tissue. It begins in the milk duct but grows into the surrounding normal tissue inside the breast. It is the most common kind of breast cancer. Also called: IDC
inflammation (in-flah-MAY-shun )
The body’s reaction to injury or disease. This reaction includes swelling, pain, heat, and tenderness.
inflammatory breast cancer (in-FLAH-mah-tor-ee brest KAN-sir )
A fairly rare type of breast cancer. The breast looks red and swollen and feels warm. The skin of the breast may look like the skin of an orange. Sometimes a lump is also found in the breast.
infusion (in-FYOO-zhun )
SEE: intravenous infusion
ingestion (in-JES-tshun )
Taking something into the body by mouth.
insomnia (in-SOHM-nee-uh )
When it’s difficult to get to sleep or stay asleep.
insulin (IN-suh-lin )
A hormone made by the pancreas. It controls the amount of sugar in the blood. It also helps control the fat in your body.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (in-TEN-sih-tee MAH-djuh-lay-tid ray-dee-AY-shun THER-uh-pee )
When many treatment fields are used to give a concentrated dose of radiation to the area at risk for cancer. Normal tissue is largely spared. Also called: IMRT
interferon (in-ter-FEER-on )
A substance that stimulates the body’s natural response to disease. It can stop the production of new cancer cells and slow down cancer cell growth. It is normally made in the body. But it can also be made in the lab for use in treating cancer and other diseases.
internal radiation (in-TER-nal ray-dee-AY-shun )
interstitial radiation (in-ter-STIH-shul ray-dee-AY-shun )
intestine (in-TESS-tin )
The last part of the digestive system. Food moves into it from the stomach. It’s shaped like a long folded tube. It’s found in the lower part of the abdomen. First there is a small bowel, then a large bowel. Also called: bowel
intracellular (in-truh-SELL-yoo-ler )
Inside a cell.
intracranial tumors (in-truh-KRAY-nee-ul TOO-merz )
Tumors that occur in the brain.
intraductal carcinoma (in-truh-DUK-tul kar-sih-NO-ma )
SEE: ductal carcinoma in situ
intraepithelial (in-truh-eh-pih-THEE-lee-ul )
Within the layer of cells that form the surface or lining of an organ.
intrahepatic (in-truh-heh-PA-tik )
Within the liver.
intramuscular (in-truh-MUS-kyoo-lur )
Within or into muscle. Also called: IM
intramuscularinjection (in-truh-MUS-kyoo-lurin-JEK-shun )
Injection into a muscle. Also called: IM injection
intraoperative radiation therapy (in-truh-OP-er-ah-tiv ray-dee-AY-shun THER-uh-pee )
Radiation treatment aimed directly at a cancer during surgery. Also called: IORT
intrathecal (in-truh-THEE-kal )
The space inside the sac that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. This space is filled with fluid. Drugs can be injected into the fluid. Or a sample of the fluid can be taken for testing.
intrathecalchemotherapy (in-truh-THEE-kalkee-mo-THER-uh-pee )
Anticancer drugs that are injected into the space surrounding the brain and the spinal cord. This space contains fluid.
intravenous (in-truh-VEE-nis )
Injected into a blood vessel. Also called: IV
intravenousinfusion (in-truh-VEE-nisin-FYOO-zhun )
Using a needle to put fluids into the bloodstream. The fluids may be drugs or other substances the body needs. Also called: infusion
invasive cancer (in-VAY-siv KAN-sir )
Cancer that has spread beyond the layer of tissue in which it started. It grows into the normal surrounding tissues. Also called: infiltrating cancer
invasive lobular carcinoma (in-VAY-siv LAH-byoo-ler kar-sih-NO-ma )
Cancer that starts in the milk glands. It grows into the normal surrounding tissues. Between 10% and 15% of all breast cancers are of this type. Also called: ILC
IORT (eye oh are tee)
SEE: intraoperative radiation therapy
ipsilateral (ip-sih-LA-tir-ul )
Having to do with the same side of the body.
irradiation (ih-RAY-dee-AY-shun )
SEE : radiation therapy
irreversible toxicity (ir-rih-VER-sih-bul tok-SIH-sih-tee )
Side effects that do not go away.
isoflavones (eye-soh-FLAY-vones )
Plant compounds found in soy products that can act like a weak estrogen. They are being studied to see if they can help prevent cancer.
IV (eye vee)
|jaundice (JAWN-diss )
When there is too much bile in the blood. This occurs when the liver is not working well or when a bile duct is blocked. The extra bile makes the skin and the whites of the eyes turn yellow. The urine darkens and the stool becomes clay- colored.
|keloid (KEY-loyd )
A thick, irregular scar. This is caused by too much tissue growth along an incision or wound.kidneys (KID-neez )
A pair of organs in the abdomen that removes waste from the blood (as urine), produces erythropoietin (a substance that stimulates red blood cell production), and plays a role in blood pressure regulation.
killer cells (KIH-ler sellz )
White blood cells that attack cancer cells and body cells that have been invaded by foreign substances.
|laboratory test (LA-bor-uh-tor-ee test )
A medical procedure that tests a sample of blood, urine, or other substance from the body. Tests can help determine a diagnosis, plan treatment, check to see if treatment is working, or monitor the disease over time.laparoscope (LA-pah-rah-skope )
A thin, lighted tube used to look at tissues and organs inside the abdomen. Also used to remove part or all of the colon through small incisions made in the wall of the abdomen.
laparoscopy (la-pah-ROSS-kuh-pee )
A test that uses a thin tube with a light and a special lens on the end. The tube is passed through the wall of the abdomen. The doctor looks through the tube into the inside of the abdomen or pelvis. It may be used to evaluate a potential problem, take tissue samples, or perform surgery (for example: to remove a gall bladder or appendix).
laparotomy (la-pah-RAH-toe-mee )
A surgical incision made in the wall of the abdomen.
A device that concentrates light into an intense, narrow beam used to cut or destroy tissue. It is used in microsurgery, photodynamic therapy, and for a variety of diagnostic purposes.
latissimusdorsiflap (lah-TIZ-ih-mussDOR-seeflap )
A breast reconstruction procedure in which skin, fat, and muscle is taken from the person’s abdomen, back, or buttock. The tissue can be detached as a free piece and moved, or it can remain attached as a “flap” and slid under the skin to a new location on the chest. In either case, the tissue is sewn into place as a new breast. The advantage of keeping the tissue flap attached to its original source is that it remains connected to its own blood supply. This increases the chance that the transplanted tissue will thrive and do well in its new location.
SEE: lobular carcinoma in situ
leiomyoma (LIE-oh-my-OH-mah )
leptomeningeal cancer (LEP-toe-meh-NIN-jee-ul KAN-sir )
A cancer that involves the tissues that cover the brain and the spinal cord.
leptomeningealmetastases (LEP-toe-meh-NIN-jee-ulmeh-TASS-tah-seez )
Cancer that has spread from where it started to the tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord.
lesion (LEE-zhun )
An area of abnormal tissue change. For example, a lump, wound, or area of injury.
leukocytes (LOO-koh-sites )
leukopenia (loo-koh-PEE-nee-yah )
A condition in which the number of white blood cells in the blood goes down.
Li-Fraumeni syndrome (lee froh-MEE-nee SIN-droam )
A rare, inherited tendency to develop multiple cancers, caused by an abnormal or defective p53 tumor suppressor gene.
A large, glandular organ located in the upper abdomen. The liver cleanses the blood and aids in digestion by secreting bile.
liver cancer (LIH-ver KAN-sir )
A disease in which malignant (cancer) cells are found in the tissues of the liver.
liver metastases (LIH-ver meh-TASS-tah-seez )
Cancer that has spread from the original main (primary) tumor to the liver.
liver scan (LIH-ver skan )
An image of the liver created on a computer screen or on film. A radioactive substance is injected into a blood vessel and travels through the bloodstream. It collects in the liver, especially in areas that are suspected to be abnormal. The scanner identifies these areas of concern.
A portion of an organ such as the liver, lung, breast, or brain.
lobectomy (loh-BEK-toe-mee )
The removal of a lobe.
lobular carcinoma in situ (LOB-yoo-lar kar-sih-NO-ma in SYE-too )
An overgrowth of cells in the lobules of the breast. These cells are not likely to turn into an invasive cancer. But having them means a higher risk of getting breast cancer in either breast. Also called: LCIS
lobule (LOB-yool )
A tiny part of the breast that makes milk. It looks like a bunch of grapes. The breast has millions of lobules in it. After the milk is made, it drains from the lobules to the nipple through milk pipes, called ducts.
local cancer (LOH-kul KAN-sir )
An invasive malignant cancer confined entirely to the organ where the cancer began.
local therapy (LOH-kul THER-uh-pee )
Treatment that affects cells in the cancer and the area close to it.
localization (LOH-kul-ih-ZAY-shun )
Finding or marking the spot where a lesion or disease is. For example, a breast lump can be found by feel (physical examination). Or it can be found using mammography or other imaging tests.
localized (LOH-kul-eyzd )
Keeping to the site of origin, without any sign of spread to other areas.
locally advanced cancer (LOH-kuh-lee ad-VANST KAN-sir )
Cancer that has spread to large parts of the breast or the nearby lymph nodes.
lubricants (LOO-brih-kents )
Oily or slippery substances.
lumbar puncture (LUM-bar PUNK-tcher )
A procedure that puts a needle in between the bones of the lower back, directly into the fluid sac around the spinal cord. It may be done to take fluid and check it for abnormalities. It can also be done to give anticancer drugs. Also called: spinal tap
lumpectomy (lum-PEK-tuh-mee )
Surgery to remove the cancer and a small amount of normal tissue around it.
lung metastases (lung meh-TASS-tah-seez )
Cancer that has spread from the main (primary) tumor to the lung.
lycopene (LY-koh-peen )
A red pigment found in tomatoes and some fruits. It may help protect you against cancer.
lymph (limf )
SEE: lymphatic fluid
lymph node (limf node )
A rounded mass of lymphatic tissue that is surrounded by a covering of connective tissue. Also known as a lymph gland. Lymph nodes are spread out along lymphatic vessels and contain many lymphocytes, and act as a filter system for the lymphatic fluid (lymph).
lymph node dissection (limf node dy-SEK-shun )
Surgery in which lymph nodes are removed and looked at to see if they have cancer in them. Also called: lymphadenectomy
lymph node drainage (limf node DRAY-nidj )
The flow of lymph from an area of tissue into a particular lymph node.
lymph node mapping (limf node MA-ping )
The use of dyes and radioactive substances that flow through the lymph vessels and serve to identify and locate lymph nodes that contain cancer cells.
lymphadenectomy (LIM-fah-deh-NEK-tuh-mee )
SEE: lymph node dissection
lymphadenopathy (LIM-fah-deh-NAH-puh-thee )
Disease or swelling of the lymph nodes.
lymphangiogram (lim-FAN-jee-oh-gram )
X-rays of the lymphatic system. A dye is injected into a lymphatic vessel and travels throughout the lymphatic system. The dye outlines the lymphatic vessels and organs on the x-ray image.
lymphangiography (lim-FAN-jee-AH-grah-fee )
An x-ray study of the lymphatic system. A dye is injected into a lymphatic vessel and travels throughout the lymphatic system. The dye outlines the lymphatic vessels and organs on the x-ray image.
lymphatic fluid (lim-FA-tik FLOO-id )
The special fluid that travels through the lymphatic channels or vessels. It carries cells that help fight infection and disease. Also called: lymph
lymphatic invasion (lim-FA-tik in-VAY-zhun )
When cancer cells break out of the place where they started and go into the lymph and blood vessels inside the breast. This is how cancer cells can travel to other areas of the body.
lymphatic system (lim-FA-tik SIS-tum )
The tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells that fight infection and disease. This system includes the bone marrow, spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes. It also includes the network of thin tubes that carry lymph and white blood cells. These tubes branch, like blood vessels, and pass through all tissues of the body.
lymphedema (LIM-feh-DEE-mah )
A condition in which too much lymph fluid collects in tissue. This causes swelling. It can happen in the arm after lymph nodes in the underarm are removed. It can also happen if there is radiation to the lymph nodes or chemotherapy. It can get worse if the arm is hurt in any way.
lymphocyte (LIM-foh-site )
A white blood cell. Lymphocytes have a number of roles in the immune system, including the production of antibodies and other substances that fight infection and disease.
lymphocytic (lim-foh-SIH-tik )
Referring to lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.
lymphosarcoma (lim-foh-sar-KOH-mah )
An obsolete term for a malignant tumor of lymphatic tissue.
lymphoscintigraphy (lim-foh-sin-TIG-rah-fee )
A method used to identify the sentinel lymph node, the first draining lymph node nearest a cancer. A radioactive substance that can be taken up by lymph nodes is injected at the site of the breast cancer. Then a doctor tracks the movement of this substance from the location in the breast over to the lymph nodes on a computer screen. Once the lymph nodes on the path from the cancer take up the substance and are identified, they can be removed and examined to see if in fact the cancer cells have moved into the lymph nodes
|macrophage (MAK-roe-fahj )
A type of white blood cell. It helps remove unwanted substances from the blood, including old or abnormal cells, bacteria, and viruses. It is an important part of the immune system.magnetic resonance imaging (mag-NEH-tik REZ-ah-nents IH-mah-djing )
A test that looks at areas inside your body. Detailed pictures are made by a magnet linked to a computer. These are read by a radiologist. Also called: MRI
maintenance therapy (MAYN-tih-nents THER-uh-pee )
Treatment that is given to help a primary (original) treatment keep working. Maintenance therapy is often given to help keep cancer in remission.
malignancy (mah-LIG-nun-see )
An uncontrolled growth of cells. It can spread into nearby normal tissue. It can also travel to other parts of the body.
malignant (mah-LIG-nent )
Cancerous; a growth that tends to spread into nearby normal tissue and travel to other parts of the body.
malignant ascites (mah-LIG-nent ah-SY-teez )
A condition in which fluid containing cancer cells collects in the abdomen.
malignantmeningioma (mah-LIG-nentmeh-NIN-jee-OH-muh )
A rare, quickly growing cancer that occurs in the membranes that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord (meninges).
mammogram (MA-moh-gram )
An x-ray picture of the breast.
mammography (ma-MAH-grah-fee )
Using x-rays to create a picture of the breast.
MammoSite (MA-moh-site )
A device that helps deliver internal radiation after lumpectomy to the area where the cancer was.
marker (MAR-ker )
A diagnostic indicator for where disease may develop.
mastectomy (mass-TEK-tuh-mee )
Surgery that removes the whole breast.
measurabledisease (MEH-zhur-ah-buldih-ZEEZ )
A cancer whose size can be accurately measured. This information may be used to judge how treatment is working.
median (MEE-dee-in )
A term used in statistics. The middle value in a set of measurements.
median survival time (MEE-dee-in ser-VY-vul time )
That point in time, from diagnosis or from start of treatment, when half of the patients with a given disease are found to be, or are expected to be, still alive. In a clinical trial, median survival time is one way to measure how effective a treatment is.
mediastinoscopy (MEE-dee-ahs-tih-NAHS-koh-pee )
A procedure in which a tube is inserted into the chest, through an incision above the breastbone, to view the organs in the area between the lungs and nearby lymph nodes. The procedure is usually performed to get a tissue sample from the lymph nodes on the right side of the chest.
mediastinum (mee-dee-ah-STYE-num )
The area between the lungs. The organs in this area include the heart and its large blood vessels, the esophagus (your food tube), the trachea (your main airway), the bronchi (smaller airways), and lymph nodes.
medical oncologist (MEH-dih-kul on-KAH-luh-jist )
A kind of cancer doctor. This type of doctor gives treatment to the whole system, like chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and immune therapy. After these treatments are over, this doctor follows you over time to make sure you are well.
membrane (MEM-brayn )
A very thin layer of tissue that covers a surface somewhere in or on the body.
meningeal (meh-NIN-jee-ul )
Refers to the meninges, the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord.
meningeal metastases (meh-NIN-jee-ul meh-TAS-tuh-seez )
Cancer that has spread from the original main (primary) tumor to the tissue covering the brain, spinal cord, or both.
meninges (meh-NIN-jeez )
The three membranes that cover and protect the brain and the spinal cord.
menopause (MEH-noh-pawz )
The time of life when a woman stops getting her period, or menstruating. This is sometimes called “change of life.”
menstruation (men-stroo-AY-shun )
The discharge of blood and tissue from the uterus, when a woman is not pregnant. This usually happens once a month, from puberty to menopause. Also called: menstrual period
metabolic (meh-tuh-BAH-lik )
Having to do with metabolism.
metabolism (meh-TA-buh-lizm )
All of the chemical changes that take place in the cells of the body. These changes produce the energy and nutrition the body needs for living.
metaplasia (meh-tuh-PLAY-zhuh )
Cells that change in appearance from normal to abnormal for that particular tissue or organ.
metastases (meh-TAS-tuh-seez )
The spread of cancer from one part of the body to other parts. When there is one site of spread, it is called metastasis (meh-TAS-tuh-sis ).
metastasis (meh-TAS-tuh-sis )
The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another. When there is more than one metastasis, they are called metastases (pronounced: meh-TAS-tuh-seez ).
metastasize (meh-TAS-tuh-size )
To spread from one part of the body to another.
metastatic cancer (meh-tuh-STA-tik KAN-sir )
Cancer that has spread from the place where it started to other parts of the body.
microcalcification (MY-krow-kal-sih-fih-KAY-shun )
A tiny build-up of calcium in the breast. It cannot be felt but it can be seen on a mammogram. A cluster of these very small specks of calcium may mean that cancer is present.
milligram (MIL-lih-gram )
A measure of weight. A milligram is approximately 450,000-times smaller than a pound and 28,000-times smaller than an ounce.
milliliter (MIL-lih-lee-tir )
A measure of volume for a liquid. A milliliter is approximately 950-times smaller than a quart and 30-times smaller than a fluid ounce. A milliliter of liquid and a cubic centimeter (cc) of liquid are the same.
millimeter (MIL-lih-mee-tir )
A measure of length. A millimeter is approximately 26-times smaller than an inch.
mineral (MIH-neh-rul )
A nutrient required to maintain health.
mistletoe lectin (MIH-sil-toe LEK-tin )
A substance that comes from the mistletoe plant, being studied as a treatment for cancer. Lectins can bind to the outside of a cell, behaving like an antigen.
mitochondria (my-toh-KAHN-dree-uh )
The parts of a cell that oxidize nutrients to release energy for the activity of the cell.
mitomycin (my-toh-MY-sin )
An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called antitumor antibiotics.
mitoxantrone (my-toh-ZAN-tron )
An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called antitumor antibiotics.
modifiedradicalmastectomy (MAH-dih-feydRA-dih-kulmass-TEK-tuh-mee )
A type of breast cancer surgery. The whole breast and some of the lymph nodes under the arm are removed.
molecule (MAH-lih-kyool )
A chemical made up of two or more atoms. The atoms in a molecule can be the same (an oxygen molecule has two oxygen atoms) or different (a water molecule has two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom). Biological molecules, such as proteins and DNA, can be made up of many thousands of atoms.
monoclonal antibodies (mah-noh-KLOH-nul AN-tih-bah-deez )
Special fighter proteins made in the lab. Each one is made to target only one substance. They can be used in many ways, because they can find and connect to cancer cells wherever they are in the body. They can be used to find or treat cancer. Or they can be used to take drugs, toxins, or radioactive material straight to a cancer.
morphine (MORE-feen )
A drug that relieves pain. It belongs to a group of drugs called narcotics.
morphology (more-FAH-lih-jee )
The science of the form and structure of organisms (plants, animals, and other forms of life).
In medicine, having to do with the movement of body parts.
MRI (em are eye)
SEE: magnetic resonance imaging
mucinous (MYOO-sin-us )
Containing or resembling mucin, the main compound in mucus.
mucinous carcinoma (MYOO-sin-us kar-sih-NO-mah )
A cancer that spreads into the normal tissue around it. It makes a sticky substance called mucin, that builds up right next to the cells that make it. The mucin itself does not cause any major problems.
mucositis (myoo-koh-SY-tis )
The mucosa is the lining of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. Mucositis is a condition in which the mucosa becomes swollen, red, and sore — for example, sores in the mouth that can be a side effect of chemotherapy.
A thick, slippery fluid produced by the membranes that line certain organs of the body such as the nose, mouth, throat, and vagina.
multicenter study (MUL-tee-SEN-tir STUH-dee )
A clinical trial that is carried out at more than one medical institution.
multidrug resistance (MUL-tee-DRUG ree-ZIS-tins )
When cancer cells are able to survive despite the effects of anticancer drugs. This means the drugs become less effective. For example, sometimes cancer cells figure out how to change so they can go on living despite chemotherapy drugs.
multidrugresistanceinhibition (MUL-tee-DRUGree-ZIS-tinsin-hih-BIH-shun )
Treatment used to make cancer cells more vulnerable to the effects of anticancer drugs.
multimodality treatment (MUL-tee-moe-DAL-ih-tee TREET-mint )
Therapy that combines more than one method of treatment.
musculoskeletal (MUH-skyu-low-SKEH-lih-tul )
Having to do with muscles, bones, and cartilage.
mutate (MYOO-tate )
When a gene changes in a way that is not normal. The change can result in a damaged gene, missing gene, or a gene that ends up in the wrong place. It may
be caused by mistakes when a cell divides. It may be caused by something in the environment. The change (called a mutation) can be harmful, good, or have no effect.
mutation (myoo-TAY-shun )
Any change that is not normal in the genes in a cell. The change can result in a damaged gene, missing gene, or a gene that ends up in the wrong place. It may be caused by mistakes when a cell divides. It may be caused by something in the environment. It can be harmful, good, or have no effect. If this happens in a mother’s egg or a father’s sperm, it can be passed on to the parent’s child. Some of these changes can lead to cancer or other diseases.
myelosuppression (my-low-suh-PREH-shun )
A condition in which the bone marrow makes fewer blood cells. This means there are fewer red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It is a side effect of some cancer treatments.
myelosuppressive therapy (my-low-suh-PREH-siv THER-uh-pee )
Treatment that slows or stops the growth of new blood cells.
myometrium (my-oh-MEE-tree-um )
The outer layer of the uterus that is made of muscle.
By or having to do with the nose.natural killer cells (NA-tchur-ul KIH-ler sellz )
A type of white blood cell that contains granules with enzymes that can kill cancer cells or microbial cells. Also called large granular lymphocytes. Also called: NK cells
necrosis (neh-KROH-sis )
needle biopsy (NEE-dul BY-op-see )
SEE: fine needle aspiration
negative axillary lymph nodes (NEH-geh-tiv AK-sih-lair-ee limf nodes )
Lymph nodes in the area of the armpit that are free of cancer. You find this out by having surgery that removes some of the nodes. They are then looked at under a microscope to see if they have cancer cells in them.
neoadjuvant therapy (nee-oh-A-djoo-vent THER-uh-pee )
Treatment that’s given first to help make the next treatment step go more smoothly. For example, chemotherapy, radiation or hormones may be given before surgery. In breast cancer, this therapy is mainly used to shrink a large tumor so that it’s easier to take out.
neoplasia (nee-oh-PLAY-zha )
Uncontrolled growth of cells. It can be benign or cancerous.
neoplasm (nee-oh-PLAH-zim )
A collection of cells that are growing in an uncontrolled way. It can be benign or cancerous.
neurologic (noor-oh-LAH-jik )
Having to do with nerves or the nervous system.
neurologist (noor-OL-uh-jist )
A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the nervous system.
neuropathy (noor-OP-uh-thee )
A problem with any nerve in the body outside the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by infection, very strong drugs, or disease. For example, Taxol can affect the nerves, causing pain and numbness in the hands and feet.
neurotoxicity (NOOR-oh-tahk-SIH-sih-tee )
Side effects to your body’s system of nerves (called the nervous system).
neurotoxin (noor-oh-TAHK-sin )
A substance that is poisonous/harmful to nerve tissue.
neutropenia (noo-troh-PEE-nee-uh )
When the number of blood cells called neutrophils is too low. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that fights infection.
neutrophil (NOO-troh-fil )
A type of white blood cell that fights infection.
nipple (NIH-pul )
The soft tissue projection in the middle of the breast. This is where the breast milk ducts come together and empty to feed a baby. The nipple is also very sensitive and can be a source of sexual pleasure.
nipple discharge (NIH-pul DIS-chardj )
Fluid that comes out of the nipple.
NK cells (en kay sells )
SEE: natural killer cells
NMRI (en em are eye)
SEE: nuclear magnetic resonance imaging
node-negative (node NEH-geh-tiv )
When there is no cancer in the lymph nodes.
node-positive (node PAH-zeh-tiv )
When there is cancer in the lymph nodes.
nonblinded (non-BLYN-ded )
Describes a clinical trial or other experiment in which the scientists doing the experiment know what treatments are being given to each study subject or experimental group. If human subjects are involved, they know what treatments they are receiving.
nonmalignant (non-muh-LIG-nent )
nonmetastatic (non-meh-tuh-STA-tik )
Cancer that has not spread from the place where it started to other places in the body.
nonrandomizedclinicaltrial (non-RAN-dum-eyzdKLIH-nih-kulTRY-ul )
A clinical trial in which the participants are assigned to different treatment groups. Participants may choose which group they want to be in or they may be assigned to the groups by the researchers. Chance assignments have no place in this kind of trial.
nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NOO-klee-er mag-NEH-tik REH-zuh-nents IH-mah-djing )
A magnet hooked up to a computer is used to make pictures of areas inside the body. This is an older term for MRI. Also called: NMRI
|observation (ob-zer-VAY-shun )
Carefully watching and recording a patient’s condition but not giving any treatment until some change takes place or symptoms show up. Also called : watchful waitingobstruction (ob-STRUK-shun )
The blockage of a passageway.
omega-3 fatty acid (oh-MEH-guh three FA-tee AA-sid )
A type of fat that is found in certain foods, like salmon, that may help bolster immunity.
oncogene (ON-koh-jeen )
A gene that controls cell growth. If the gene is abnormal it can allow cells to grow out of control. This can result in cancer.
oncogeneoverexpression (ON-koh-jeenOH-vir-ek-SPREH-shin )
The job of an oncogene is to control the growth of cells. When it stops working as it should, it tells the cells to make too much protein. The extra protein makes the cells grow out of control. This can result in cancer.
oncologist (on-KAH-luh-jist )
A doctor who specializes in taking care of people with cancer. Some specialize in one type of cancer treatment. For example, a radiation oncologist treats cancer with radiation, and a medical oncologist treats cancer with medications. Some oncologists also specialize in one kind of cancer. For example, a breast cancer oncologist diagnoses and treats breast cancer.
oncology (on-KAH-luh-jee )
An area of medicine that deals with the study and treatment of cancer.
oophorectomy (oo-foe-REK-tuh-mee )
Surgery to remove one or both ovaries.
By or having to do with the mouth.
organism (OR-gun-ih-zum )
A living thing, such as an animal, a plant, a bacterium, or a fungus.
osteoporosis (OSS-tee-oh-puh-ROH-sis )
When one’s bones become weaker. When this happens, the bones are more likely to break.
ovarian (oh-VAIR-ee-in )
Relating to the ovaries. These are the two glands in a woman’s pelvis that make eggs and hormones.
ovarian ablation (oh-VAIR-ee-in ah-BLAY-shen )
Surgery, radiation therapy, or a drug treatment to stop the ovary from making hormones. Also called: ovarian suppression
ovarian cancer (oh-VAIR-ee-in KAN-sir )
Cancer of the ovary.
ovarian epithelial cancer (oh-VAIR-ee-in eh-pih-THEEL-ee-ul KAN-sir )
Cancer that starts in the cells lining the ovaries.
ovarian suppression (oh-VAIR-ee-in suh-PREH-shun )
SEE: ovarian ablation
ovaries (OH-vah-reez )
The pair of female reproductive glands in which the ova, or eggs, are formed. The ovaries are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus.
ovary (OH-vah-ree )
The female reproductive gland in which the ova, or eggs, and the female hormones that regulate female sex characteristics develop.
overall survival (OH-ver-all ser-VY-vul )
The percentage of people in a study who have survived for a certain period of time, usually reported as time since diagnosis or treatment. Also called : survival rate
overexpress (OH-ver-ek-SPRESS )
An excess of a particular protein on the surface of a cell, a protein that might be related to a high number of abnormal or defective cells.
ovulation (ov-yoo-LAY-shun )
When an egg is released from an ovary during the menstrual period.
|p53 gene (pee FIF-tee-three jeen)
A gene that keeps cells under control and growing normally. If this gene is abnormal, cell growth may get out of control. This may result in the start of a cancer.Paget’s disease of the nipple (PA-jitz dih-ZEEZ uv thuh NIH-pul )
A type of breast cancer that involves the nipple. The cancer cells start in the milk-pipes or ducts at the surface of the nipple. As the cancer grows on top of the nipple, it forms a dry, crusty, bumpy rash. It can cause itching and burning around the nipple. Sometimes it can also cause oozing or bleeding. Some doctors might think it is just eczema or dry skin. But if you have these changes, and they don’t go away, be sure to see a breast specialist.
palliative therapy (PA-lee-uh-tiv THER-uh-pee )
Treatment to relieve symptoms caused by advanced cancer. Its purpose is to improve the quality of life.
palpation (pal-PAY-shun )
When your doctor presses on the surface of your body to feel the organs or tissues underneath.
Pap smear (pap smeer )
The collection of cells from the cervix for examination under a microscope. It is used to detect changes that may be cancer or may lead to cancer, and can show noncancerous conditions, such as infection or inflammation. Also called : a Pap test
partial response (PAR-shul ree-SPONS )
A decrease in the size of a cancer, or in the range of cancer in the body, in response to treatment. Also called : partial remission
pathologic fracture (pa-thuh-LAH-djik FRAK-tchur )
When a bone breaks because it is weakened by disease. This might be caused by cancer in the bone.
pathologist (pa-THAH-luh-jist )
A doctor who checks tissue or fluid taken from the body to see if it is normal or abnormal (diseased). Pathologists use a microscope to do this. If the tissue is abnormal, they describe the nature and extent of disease. They also have special tests that look at cell activity, proteins, and genes. They take all of this information and put in a pathology report.
pathology report (pa-THAH-luh-jee ree-PORT )
A report that describes what was found in tissue removed from the body. The cancer and surrounding normal tissue are checked with a microscope and other special tests. The report tells you many things about the extent and nature of the disease.
peau d’orange (poe dor-AHNJ )
This term means “orange skin” in French. It’s when the skin of the breast looks like the skin of a navel orange: It gets swollen and the hair follicles look like lots of little dimples. This can be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer.
pedigree (PEH-dih-gree )
A record of your family over the generations. It includes your ancestors, grandparents, parents, siblings, children, and their children. It may be used to check for certain patterns of disease that can be passed from parents to children within the family.
pericardialeffusion (pair-ee-KAR-dee-uleh-FYOO-zhun )
When fluid builds up inside the sac that surrounds the heart. This puts pressure on the heart, making it hard for the heart to pump blood.
perineural (pair-ee-NOOR-uhl )
Around a nerve or group of nerves. Sometimes breast cancer cells grow around the little nerves that are in the breast. This is called perineural invasion.
perioperative (pair-ee-OP-ir-ah-tiv )
The period of time around surgery. This usually refers to the first few days right after surgery.
peripheral blood (per-IH-fer-ul blud )
Blood circulating throughout the body.
peripheral stem cell support (per-IH-fer-ul stem sell suh-PORT )
SEE: peripheral stem cell transplantation
peripheralstemcelltransplantation (per-IH-fer-ulstemselltranz-plan-TAY-shun )
A method of replacing blood-forming cells destroyed by cancer treatment. Immature blood cells (stem cells) in the circulating blood that are similar to those in the bone marrow are given after treatment to help the bone marrow recover and continue producing healthy blood cells. Transplantation may be autologous (an individual’s own blood cells saved earlier), allogeneic (blood cells donated by someone else), or syngeneic (blood cells donated by an identical twin). Also called: peripheral stem cell support
peripheral stem cells (per-IH-fer-ul stem sellz )
Immature cells that develop into new blood cells. They circulate in the bloodstream.
peritoneal (pair-ih-toh-NEE-ul )
Having to do with the peritoneum. This is the tissue that lines the inside wall of the abdomen. It also covers the outside surface of some organs in the abdomen.
peritoneal cavity (pair-ih-toh-NEE-ul KA-vih-tee )
The space within the abdomen that contains the intestines, the stomach, and the liver.
peritoneum (pair-ih-tuh-NEE-um )
The tissue that lines the inside wall of the abdomen. It also covers the outside surface of some organs in the abdomen.
PET scan (pet scan )
SEE: positron emission tomography scan
petechiae (peh-TEH-kee-ah )
Tiny, flat, round red spots under the skin. They are caused by bleeding.
phase I trial (fayz wun TRY-ul )
Phase I trials are the first step in testing a new treatment in humans. These studies test the best way to give a new treatment (for example, by mouth, intravenous infusion, or injection), and the best dose. The dose is usually increased a little at a time in order to find the highest dose that does not cause harmful side effects. Because little is known about the possible risks and benefits of the treatments being tested, phase I trials usually include only a small number of patients who have not been helped by other treatments.
phase II trial (fayz too TRY-ul )
Phase II cancer trials test whether a new treatment has an anticancer effect (for example, whether it shrinks a cancer or improves blood test results) and whether it works against a certain type of cancer.
phase III trial (fayz three TRY-ul )
Phase III trials compare the results of people taking a new treatment with the results of people taking the standard treatment (for example, which group has better survival rates or fewer side effects). In most cases, studies move into phase III trials only after a treatment seems to work in phases I and II. Phase III trials may include hundreds of people.
phase IV trial (fayz for TRY-ul )
After a treatment has been approved and is being marketed, it is studied in a phase IV trial to evaluate side effects that were not apparent in the phase III trial. Thousands of people are involved in a phase IV trial.
phlebitis (fleh-BY-tis )
Inflammation of a vein.
physiologic (fih-zee-uh-LAH-jik )
Having to do with the normal functions of the body.
pilot study (PIE-lut STUH-dee )
The first study that looks at a new method or treatment.
pituitarygland (pih-TOO-ih-tair-eegland )
A gland that makes hormones that control the production of other hormones in your body. In this way, it supervises many of your body’s functions, including growth and the production of sex hormones by the ovaries or testicles.
placebo (plah-SEE-boh )
A fake pill or treatment that looks the same and is taken in the same way as a drug or treatment in a clinical trial. It contains no active ingredients. Also called : dummy pill
plasma (PLAZ-muh )
The clear, yellowish, fluid part of the blood that does not contain blood cells.
plasma cells (PLAZ-muh sellz )
A type of white blood cell that makes antibodies. (These are special proteins that protect you against infection.)
plastic surgeon (PLAS-tik SIR-jun )
A doctor who does special types of surgery to improve how you look. Examples of plastic surgery are breast reconstruction after mastectomy and repairing tissue after an accident. Face lifts and “nose jobs” are also examples.
platelets (PLAYT-lits )
Blood cells that help stop bleeding. They do this by forming blood clots. Also called: thrombocytes
pleomorphic (plee-oh-MOR-fik )
Refers to cells that vary in their size, shape, and inside structure.
pleura (PLOOR-uh )
A thin layer of tissue that covers the outside surface of the lungs and the inside wall of the chest cavity.
pleural cavity (PLOOR-ul KAV-vih-tee )
A space between the outside of the lungs and the inside wall of the chest cavity.
pleuraleffusion (PLOOR-uleh-FYOO-zhun )
When there is too much fluid between the thin layers of tissue that line the outside of the lungs and the inside wall of the chest cavity.
pleurodesis (ploor-oh-DEE-sis )
A type of surgery that gets rid of the open space between the lung and the chest cavity. This is done to stop fluid from building up in this space. When cancer cells are growing in this space, they make fluid that can collect and cause difficulty breathing. During this surgery, a chemical is placed in the space. Your body’s reaction to the chemical causes the lining around the lung to stick to the inside lining of the chest wall. This can cause pain for several days. Be sure to ask for pain medication to get you through it.
ploidy (PLOY-dee )
The number of chromosomes in a cell or an organism.
pneumonia (noo-MOH-nyah )
An infection of the lung.
A small device placed under the skin. It empties into a blood vessel and makes it easier to give chemotherapy and to take blood for tests. Also called: Port-a-cath
Port-a-cath (PORT-uh-kath )
positive axillary lymph nodes (PAH-zih-tiv AK-sih-lair-ee limf nodes )
Lymph nodes in the area of the armpit that contain cancer cells. This is determined by having surgery that removes some of the nodes. They are then looked at under a microscope to see if they have cancer cells in them.
positron emission tomography scan (PAH-sih-tron ee-MIH-shun tah-MAH- gruh-fee skan )
A computerized image of the energy producing activity of body tissues, used to determine the presence of disease. Also called: PET scan
postmenopausal (post-meh-noh-PAW-zul )
The time of life after a woman goes through menopause. Menopause is when a woman stops getting her period, or menstruating. This is sometimes called “change of life.”
postmenopausal bleeding (post-meh-noh-PAW-zul BLEE-ding )
Vaginal bleeding that occurs after a woman’s periods have stopped. It may be caused by something that’s not a cancer (like an endometrial polyp). Or it may be caused by a cancer. Tell your doctor if you have this problem.
postoperative (post-AH-pih-ruh-tiv )
PR-, PR-negative (pee are NEH-geh-tiv )
SEE: progesterone receptor negative
PR+, PR-positive (pee are PAH-zih-tiv )
SEE: progesterone receptor positive
precancerous (pre-KAN-sir-us )
A term used to describe a condition that may, or is likely to become, cancer. Also called: premalignant
premalignant (pree-muh-LIG-nent )
premenopausal (pree-meh-noh-PAW-zul )
The time of life between puberty and menopause. During this time a woman gets her period, or menstruates.
preventive (prih-VEN-tiv )
Refers to something that tries to stop or delay a disease from occurring.
preventivemastectomy (prih-VEN-tivmass-TEK-tuh-mee )
SEE: prophylactic mastectomy
primary endpoint (PRY-mair-ee END-poynt )
The main result measured at the end of a study to see if a given treatment has worked. For example, researchers might look at survival or risk of recurrence as primary endpoints. The study then compares these factors in the treatment group and the control group. The primary endpoints need to be determined before the study begins.
primary tumor (PRY-mair-ee TOO-mer )
The main original cancer.
progesterone (pro-JES-teh-rown )
A female hormone.
progesterone receptor negative (pro-JES-teh-rown ree-SEP-ter NEH-geh-tiv )
Breast cancer cells without progesterone receptors. These receptors are special proteins that the hormone progesterone binds to. PR negative breast cancer cells do not depend on progesterone to grow. Also called: PR-
progesterone receptor positive (pro-JES-teh-rown ree-SEP-ter PAH-zih-tiv )
Breast cancer cells that react to the hormone progesterone. They need it to grow. Hormone treatments can work with these cells. Also called: PR+
prognosis (prog-NOH-sis )
How you are expected to do after a disease is diagnosed. It is based on many things, including stage of disease, kind of disease, response to treatment, and your general state of health. It may be presented as a kind of forecast by your healthcare provider.
prognostic factor (prog-NOH-stik FAK-ter )
A situation or condition that can affect your prognosis. This means it can be used to estimate the chance of recovering from a disease, or the chance of the disease coming back.
programmed cell death (PRO-gramd sell deth )
progression (pruh-GREH-shin )
When the cancer gets bigger or spreads to other parts of the body.
progressive disease (pruh-GREH-siv dih-ZEEZ )
Cancer that is getting bigger or spreading more.
prophylactic (proh-fih-LAK-tic )
A drug, device, or procedure that protects the body from disease or infection. It can also refer to something that prevents pregnancy.
prophylacticmastectomy (proh-fih-LAK-ticmass-TEK-tuh-mee )
Surgery to remove one or both breasts to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. Also called: preventive mastectomy
prophylacticoophorectomy (proh-fih-LAK-ticoo-foh-REK-tuh-mee )
Surgery to remove the ovaries in order to reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
prophylaxis (proh-fih-LAK-sis )
An attempt to prevent disease.
prospective (proh-SPEK-tiv )
A type of study or clinical trial. The researchers find participants and then follow them for a certain time period.
protein (PRO-teen )
A type of molecule that the body needs to work properly. Proteins are the basis of body structures such as skin, muscle, and hair.
psoriasis (sore-EYE-ih-sis )
A chronic disease of the skin. It causes red patches covered with white scales.
|quadrantectomy (kwad-ran-TEK-tuh-mee )
Surgery to remove the part of the breast with cancer. Usually about one quarter of the breast is removed.quality of life (KWAH-lih-tee uv lyf )
Overall pleasure, comfort, and enjoyment in being alive. Many clinical trials look at the effects of cancer and its treatment on a person’s quality of life.
|radiation fibrosis (ray-dee-AY-shun fy-BRO-sis )
The scar tissue that forms as a result of radiation therapy.radiation oncologist (ray-dee-AY-shun on-KAH-loh-jist )
A doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer.
radiation surgery (ray-dee-AY-shun SIR-jer-ee )
A radiation therapy technique that delivers radiation directly to the cancer while sparing healthy tissue. Also called: radiosurgery, stereotactic external beam radiation, stereotactic radiation therapy, or stereotactic radiosurgery
radiation therapy (ray-dee-AY-shun THER-uh-pee )
The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body in the area near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy, implant radiation, or brachytherapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance, such as a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody, that circulates throughout the body. Also called : irradiation, radiotherapy, or x-ray therapy
radical mastectomy (RA-dih-kul mass-TEK-tuh-mee )
Surgery for breast cancer in which the breast, chest muscles, and all of the lymph nodes under the arm are removed. For many years, this was the most common operation for breast cancer. It is rarely performed today. Also called: Halsted radical mastectomy
radioactive (RAY -dee-oh-AK-tiv )
Giving off radiation.
radioactive drugs (RAY -dee-oh-AK-tiv drugz )
Drugs that have a radioactive substance in them. They are used to diagnose and treat cancer. For example, they can help decrease pain from cancer that has spread to the bone. Also called: radiopharmaceuticals
radioactive iodine (RAY-dee-oh-AK-tiv EYE-oh-dine )
A form of the chemical iodine that gives off radiation. It is often used for imaging tests or as a treatment for thyroid cancer.
radioimmunotherapy (RAY-dee-oh-ih-MYOO-noh-THER-uh-pee )
Treatment with a radioactive substance linked to an antibody that attaches to the cancer cells when injected into the patient.
radioisotopes (RAY-dee-oh-EYE-suh-topes )
Unstable chemicals that give off radiation as they break down. They can be used in imaging tests or as a treatment for cancer.
radiolabeled (RAY-dee-oh-LAY-buld )
Any compound that has been joined with a radioactive substance.
radiologist (ray-dee-AH-loh-jist )
A doctor who specializes in taking pictures of areas inside the body and figuring out what they show. The pictures are made with x-rays, sound waves, or other types of energy. This kind of doctor can also use imaging studies to guide procedures. For example, ultrasound can help a radiologist do a breast biopsy.
radiology (ray-dee-AH-loh-jee )
Using radiation (such as x-rays) or other imaging methods like ultrasound or MRI) to diagnose or treat disease.
radiopharmaceuticals (RAY-dee-oh-far-mih-SOO-tih-kulz )
SEE: radioactive drugs
radiosensitization (RAY-dee-oh-sen-sih-tih-ZAY-shun )
Using a drug to make cancer cells more sensitive to radiation therapy.
radiosensitizers (RAY-dee-oh-SEN-sih-ty-zirz )
Drugs that make radiation work better in destroying cancer cells.
radiosurgery (RAY-dee-oh-SIR-jer-ee )
SEE: radiation surgery
radiotherapy (RAY-dee-oh-THER-uh-pee )
SEE : radiation therapy
randomized clinical trial (RAN-dum-eyzd KLIH-nih-kul TRY-ul )
A study in which the participants are assigned by chance to separate groups that compare different treatments. Neither the researchers nor the participants can choose which group they may join. Using chance to assign people to groups means that the groups can be compared objectively. At the start of the trial,
it is not known which treatment is best. The patient can choose to be part of a randomized trial – or not.
ras gene (raz jeen )
A gene that has been found to cause cancer when it is abnormal. Chemicals or drugs that block the abnormal form of the gene may slow down or stop the growth of cancer.
SEE: red blood cells
receptor (ree-SEP-ter )
A molecule inside or on the surface of a cell that binds to a specific substance that appears on the outside the cell and that causes a specific reaction in the functioning of the cell.
reconstruction (ree-kun-STRUK-shun )
Rebuilding or repairing an area of the body that has been damaged or removed.
rectal (REK-tuhl )
Having to do with the rectum. The rectum is the last part of the large intestine. It is about 6 inches (13 cm) long and ends at the anus.
rectum (REK-tum )
The last part of the large intestine. It is about 6 inches (13 cm) long and ends at the anus.
recurrence (ree-KER-ents )
When a cancer comes back after treatment. It can come back in the same place as the original one or in a different part of the body.
red blood cells (red blud sellz)
Cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Also called erythrocytes. Also called: RBCs
re-excision (ree-ek-SIH-zhen )
Surgery to remove extra tissue around the place where the cancer used to be. This is done to get clear margins around the cancer and to make sure no more cancer cells are left behind. Also called: re-excision lumpectomy
re-excision lumpectomy (ree-ek-SIH-zhen lum-PEK-tuh-mee )
refractory cancer (reh-FRAK-tor-ee KAN-sir )
Cancer that has not responded to treatment.
regimen (REH-jih-min )
A treatment plan. The plan includes which treatments and procedures will be done, medications and their dose, the schedule of treatments, and how long the treatment will take.
regional (REE-juh-nuhl )
In oncology, it’s the area of the body right around a cancer.
regional cancer (REE-juh-nuhl KAN-sir )
Cancer that has grown beyond the original (primary) cancer to nearby lymph nodes or organs and tissues.
regionalchemotherapy (REE-juh-nuhlKEE-moh-THER-uh-pee )
Treatment with anticancer drugs directed to a specific area of the body.
regional lymph node (REE-juh-nuhl limf node )
A lymph node that drains lymph fluid from the area around a cancer.
regression (reh-GREH-shun )
A decrease in the size of a cancer, or in the extent of the cancer in the body.
relapse (REE-laps )
The return of signs and symptoms of cancer after a period of improvement.
relative survival rate (REH-luh-tiv sir-VY-vul rayte )
A particular way to measure survival. In cancer, the rate is calculated after removing all causes of death except cancer and then figuring the survival rate in the patients with cancer. The rate is figured at specific time intervals, such as 2 years and 5 years after diagnosis.
remission (reh-MIH-shun )
A decrease in or disappearance of signs and symptoms of cancer. In partial remission, some, but not all, signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared. In complete remission, all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared, although there still may be cancer cells present in the body.
reproductive system (ree-pruh-DUK-tiv SIS-tim )
In women, this system includes the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the uterus (womb), the cervix, and the vagina (birth canal). The reproductive system in men includes the prostate, the testes, and the penis. The reproductive system is that part of the body that is devoted to bringing new individuals into being.
resected (ree-SEK-tid )
When tissue has been removed by a surgeon.
resection (ree-SEK-shun )
Using surgery to take out tissue, part or all of an organ.
residual disease (reh-ZID-joo-ul dih-ZEEZ )
Cancer cells that are left over after surgery.
resistance (ree-ZIS-tints )
When a cancer does not respond to treatment.
respiratory system (RESS-pih-rah-tor-ee SIS-tim )
The organs involved in breathing. These include the air passages (nose, throat, larynx, trachea, bronchi), and the lungs. Also called: respiratory tract
response rate (ree-SPAHNS rayt )
The percentage of patients whose cancer shrinks or disappears because of treatment.
retroperitoneal (REH-troh-peh-rih-tuh-NEE-ul )
Having to do with the area in back of the abdomen, behind the peritoneum (the tissue that lines the main compartment inside the abdomen).
ribonucleic acid (rye-boh-noo-KLAY-ik AA-sid )
A complex molecule found in all living cells. It reads genetic information on the DNA inside the cells. Then it takes the information to the part of the cell that makes vital proteins based on this information. Also called: RNA
risk factor (risk FAK-tir )
A habit, trait, condition, or genetic abnormality that increases a person’s chance of developing a disease.
SEE: ribonucleic acid
|saline (SAY-leen )
A solution of salt and water.saline implant (SAY-leen IM-plant )
A soft packet filled with saline that is inserted under the skin to replace or enhance breast tissue.
salpingo-oophorectomy (sal-PIN-gooo-foh-REK-tuh-mee )
Surgery to remove the fallopian tubes and ovaries.
salvage therapy (SAL-vidj THER-uh-pee )
Treatment given after the cancer has not responded to other treatments.
sarcoma (sar-KOH-mah )
A cancer of connective or supportive tissue. These types of tissue include bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, and blood vessels.
scleroderma (skler-uh-DIR-mah )
An uncommon chronic disorder that causes hardening and thickening of the skin. It can occur in one limited area (localized) or it can affect the entire body (systemic).
screening (SKREE-ning )
Checking for disease when there are no symptoms.
second cancer (SEH-kund KAN-sir )
A new primary cancer in a person with a history of another cancer.
secondary cancer (SEH-kun-dair-ee KAN-sir )
Cancer that comes back where it first started or cancer that has spread to another part of the body. For example, breast cancer cells may recur in the breast area or spread (metastasize) to the lung. When this happens, the disease is called recurrent or metastatic breast cancer. The return of cancer in the breast and the spread of cancer in the lung is called a secondary cancer. Also called: secondary tumor
segmental mastectomy (seg-MEN-tul mass-TEK-tuh-mee )
The removal of the cancer as well as some of the breast tissue around the cancer and the lining over the chest muscles below the cancer. Usually some of the lymph nodes under the arm are also removed. Also called: partial mastectomy
seizures (SEE-zherz )
Convulsions; sudden movements of the muscles that you can’t control.
selection bias (seh-LEK-shun BY-iss )
A problem that results when individuals or groups are improperly chosen to take part in a study. For instance, an overbalance of women from a certain age group. This can spoil the reliability of the study findings, and means that the conclusions may not be sound or apply to the women concerned. Ideally, the subjects in a study should be similar to one another and to the larger population (for example, all individuals with the same disease or condition) from which they are drawn. If there are important differences or similarities in those subjects that have not been disclosed, the results of the study may not be valid.
selenium (seh-LEH-nee-um )
An important mineral in your diet.
sensory (SEN-sir-ee )
Having to do with your senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste).
sentinel lymph node (SEN-tih-nul limf node )
The first lymph node that cancer is likely to spread to from the place where it started.
sentinel lymph node biopsy (SEN-tih-nul limf node BY-op-see )
A procedure in which a dye and/or radioactive substance is injected near the cancer. The dye or radioactive substance flows into the lymph nodes. The first lymph node that it reaches is called the sentinel lymph node. It is also the first lymph node that cancer cells might spread to after breaking away from the main cancer in the breast. Sometimes there is more than one sentinel node. A surgeon finds the sentinel lymph node, or nodes, by looking for the dye or detecting the radioactive substance. Then the node or nodes are removed and checked to see if there are cancer cells in them.
sentinel lymph node dissection (SEN-tih-nul limf node dy-SEK-shun )
Surgery to find and take out the sentinel lymph node. This node is the very first lymph node that is reached by lymph fluid from the site of a breast cancer. Cancer cells sometimes break away from the main cancer and travel through the lymph system. If this happens, this node is more likely than other lymph nodes to filter out and trap these cells. To find out if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in women with early breast cancer, doctors take out just this lymph node. This has been found to work just as well as taking out many lymph nodes.
sentinel lymph node mapping (SEN-tih-nul limf node MA-ping )
The use of dyes and radioactive substances to identify the first (or sentinel) lymph node to which cancer is likely to spread from the primary main cancer.
sepsis (SEP-sis )
The presence of bacteria in the bloodstream.
sequential treatment (seh-KWEN-shul TREET-mint )
One treatment after the other.
serous (SEER-us )
Having to do with serum. This is the clear liquid part of blood.
The clear liquid part of the blood. This is what remains after blood cells and clotting proteins have been removed.
side effects (side eh-FEKTS )
When treatment for a disease causes problems for healthy cells. Common side effects of cancer treatment are fatigue, nausea, vomiting, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss, and mouth sores.
sigmoidoscope (sig-MOY-dah-skope )
A thin, lighted tube used to look inside the colon.
sigmoidoscopy (sig-moy-DOSS-koh-pee )
A test that looks inside the lower colon using a thin tube with a light on the end. It can also be used to take samples of tissue or cells to look at under a microscope. Also called: proctosigmoidoscopy
silicone (SIH-lih-kone )
A stable, inert synthetic product that is often used to imitate and replace breast tissue in a device placed under the skin or in a breast-shaped sac in a bra.
silicone implant (SIH-lih-kone IM-plant )
A soft packet filled with silicone that is inserted under the skin to replace or enhance breast tissue.
simple mastectomy (SIM-pul mass-TEK-tuh-mee )
SEE: total mastectomy
skeletal (SKEH-lih-tul )
Having to do with the skeleton (the boney frame of the body).
skeleton (SKEH-lih-tun )
The frame of bones that supports the soft tissues of the body. It also protects many of the internal organs.
skin graft (skin graft )
Skin that is moved from one part of the body to another.
skin test (skin test)
A test for an immune response to a compound by placing it on or under the skin.
skin-sparingmastectomy (skinSPAIR-ingmass-TEK-tuh-mee )
A type of surgery to remove the breast that keeps all of the skin of the breast where it is, except for the nipple and areola. This allows for a more even skin tone if the breast is rebuilt. In other types of mastectomy, the breast tissue and skin are all removed. Then, if the breast is rebuilt, it looks patchy because skin is taken from another part of the body
small intestine (smawl in-TES-tin )
The part of the digestive tract that is located between the stomach and the large intestine.
soft tissue (soft TIH-shyoo )
Refers to muscle, fat, fibrous tissue, blood vessels, or other supporting tissue of the body.
solid tumor (SAH-lid TOO-mer )
Cancer of body tissues other than blood, bone marrow, or the lymphatic system.
somatic mutations (soh-MA-tik myoo-TAY-shens )
Changes to the DNA that occur after conception. Somatic mutations can occur in any of the cells of the body except the germ cells (sperm and egg) and therefore are not passed on to the next generation. These changes can (but not always) cause cancer or other diseases.
somnolence syndrome (SOM-noh-lens SIN-drome )
Periods of drowsiness, lethargy, loss of appetite, and irritability in children following radiation therapy treatment to the head.
sonogram (SAW-nuh-gram )
speculum (SPEK-yoo-lum )
An instrument used to widen an opening of the body to make it easier to look inside. For example, gynecologists use a speculum to look inside the vagina.
spiculated (SPIK-yoo-lay-ted )
Edges are irregular. Used to describe the appearance of cancer on a mammogram.
spinal tap (SPY-nul tap )
SEE: lumbar puncture
An organ that is part of the lymphatic system. The spleen produces lymphocytes, filters the blood, stores blood cells, and destroys old blood cells. It is located on the left side of the abdomen near the stomach.
squamouscellcarcinoma (SKWAY-mussellkar-sih-NO-mah )
Cancer that begins in squamous cells, or cells that line the surfaces of the skin and line the air and food tubes. They also line some organs. These are thin, flat cells that look like fish scales. This type of cancer rarely occurs in the breast. It is a common type of lung and skin cancer. Also called: epidermoid carcinoma
squamous cells (SKWAY-mus sellz )
Flat cells that look like fish scales under a microscope. These cells cover internal and external surfaces of the body.
St. John’s wort [chemical name: hypericum perforatum] (saint jonz wort )
An herbal product sold as an over-the-counter treatment to improve mood, boost interest in sex, and reduce depression. Scientists are still studying it to see if it really can do these things. It is also being studied to see if it can lessen certain side effects of cancer treatment.
stable disease (STAY-bul dih-ZEEZ )
Cancer that is neither decreasing nor increasing in its range or severity.
The range of a cancer, especially whether the disease has spread from the original site to other parts of the body. It is important to know the stage of a disease in order to plan the best treatment.
staging (STAY-djing )
Performing exams and tests to learn the extent of the cancer within the body, especially whether the disease has spread from the original site to other parts of the body. It is important to know the stage of the disease in order to plan the best treatment.
standard therapy (STAN-derd THER-uh-pee )
A currently accepted and widely used treatment for a certain type of cancer, based on the results of past research.
statisticallysignificant (stah-TISS-tik-leesig-NIH-fih-kint )
In scientific studies, different groups are compared to see if there is a meaningful difference in outcome between them. This means that researchers want to know if one group will do the same, worse, or better than the other group or groups. A difference between groups is meaningful if it is bigger than what you would expect if it were just up to chance. When the difference is meaningful this way, it is called statistically significant.
stellate (STELL-ate )
Star-shaped. This term is used to describe what some cancers look like on a mammogram.
stemcelltransplantation (stemselltranz-plan-TAY-shun )
A method of replacing blood-forming cells that were destroyed by cancer treatment. The new cells are injected into a person’s bloodstream after treatment. Over time, the stem cells turn into the different kinds of blood cells the body needs.
stem cells (stem sellz)
The cells from which all blood cells originate
A device placed in a body structure (such as a blood vessel or the gastrointestinal tract) to provide support and to keep the structure open.
stereotactic biopsy (stair-ee-oh-TAK-tik BY-op-see )
A way to take a piece of tissue from an abnormality that is seen on a test but that cannot be felt. Since you can’t feel the abnormality, you have to use another way to find it. This is done with a computer and a three-dimensional scanning device. Once the tissue is removed, it is examined under a microscope to see if it is normal or abnormal.
stereotactic external beam radiation (stair-ee-oh-TAK-tik ek-STER-nul beem ray-dee-AY-shun )
SEE : radiation surgery
stereotactic radiation therapy (stair-ee-oh-TAK-tik ray-dee-AY-shun THER- uh-pee)
stereotactic radiosurgery (stair-ee-oh-TAK-tik RAY-dee-oh-SIR-jir-ee )
stereotaxis (stair-ee-oh-TAK-sis )
A technique that uses a computer and scanning device to localize an area of concern within three-dimensional pictures of the body. It can be used to help do a biopsy, give external radiation, or put in radiation implants.
sterile (STER-uhl )
This word has different meanings. It can mean that something is very clean and free of germs, like an operating room. Or it can mean that a person is unable to produce children.
steroid therapy (steer-oyd ther-uh-pee )
Treatment with corticosteroid drugs to reduce swelling, pain, and other symptoms of inflammation.
steroids (stair-oyds )
Drugs used to relieve swelling and inflammation.
stromal tumors (STROH-mul TOO-merz )
Cancers that arise in the supporting connective tissue of an organ.
strontium (STRON-tee-um )
A metal often used in a radioactive form for imaging tests or as a treatment for cancer.
subcutaneous (sub-kyoo-TAY-nee-us )
Under the skin.
subcutaneous port (sub-kyoo-TAY-nee-us port )
A tube that is placed under the skin which goes into a blood vessel. A special needle can be put into the end of the tube. The port is used to give drugs directly into the blood. It can also be used to take blood samples.
sun protection factor (SPF) (sun proh-TEK-shun FAK-tir )
A scale for rating the level of sunburn protection in sunscreen products. The higher the SPF, the more sunburn protection it provides. Sunscreens with an SPF value of 2 through 11 provide minimal protection against sunburns. Sunscreens with an SPF of 12 through 29 provide moderate protection, which is adequate for most people. Those products with an SPF of 30 or higher provide high protection against sunburn and are sometimes recommended for people who are especially sensitive to the sun.
sunscreen (SUN-screen )
A substance that helps protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Sunscreens reflect, absorb, and scatter both UVA and UVB radiation. Using lotions, creams, or gels that contain sunscreens can help protect the skin from premature aging and damage that can lead to skin cancer.
superficial (soo-pir-FIH-shul )
Affecting cells on the surface. Not invasive.
supplementation (suh-plih-men-TAY-shun )
Adding nutrients to the diet.
support group (suh-PORT groop )
A group of people with similar disease (or issues) who meet to discuss how better to cope with their cancer and treatment (or issues).
supportive care (suh-POR-tiv kair )
Treatment given to prevent, control, or relieve complications and side effects and to improve the comfort and quality of life of people who have cancer.
supraclavicular lymph nodes (SOO-prah-klah-VIC-yoo-ler limf nodes )
Lymph nodes found above the collarbone between the neck and the shoulder.
surgeon (SIR-jun )
A doctor who removes or repairs a part of the body by operating on the patient.
A procedure to remove or repair a part of the body or to find out whether disease is present.
survival rate (sir-VY-vul rayt )
SEE: overall survival
symptom (SIM-tum )
An sign or indication that a person has a condition or disease. Some examples of symptoms are headache, fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and pain.
symptomatic (sim-toe-MA-tik )
Having to do with symptoms, which are signs of a condition or disease.
symptoms (SIM-tumz )
Things you feel or see about your body that may be a sign of a disease or disorder.
systemic (sis-TEH-mik )
Affecting the entire body (your whole system).
systemic disease (sis-TEH-mik dih-ZEEZ )
Disease that affects the whole body.
systemic therapy (sis-TEH-mik THER-uh-pee )
Treatment that affects the whole body (your whole system).
One type of white blood cell that attacks virus-infected cells, foreign cells, and cancer cells. T cells also produce a number of substances that regulate the immune response.telangiectasia (tel-AN-jee-ek-TAY-zha )
Permanent enlargement of blood vessels, causing redness in the skin or mucous membranes.
testosterone (tes-TOS-ter-own )
A hormone that promotes the development and maintenance of male sex characteristics.
A way to treat disease and help healing.
thermal ablation (THER-mul ah-BLAY-shun )
A procedure that uses heat to destroy tissue or to stop a part of the body from working.
thoracentesis (thor-ah-sen-TEE-sis )
Removal of fluid from the pleural cavity through a hollow needle inserted between the ribs.
thoracic (thoh-RA-sik )
Having to do with the chest.
thoracoscopy (thor-ruh-KOS-koh-pee )
The use of a thin, lighted tube (called an endoscope) to examine the inside of the chest.
thoracotomy (thor-uh-KAH-tuh-mee )
An operation to open the chest.
thrombocytes (THROM-boh-sites )
Blood cells that help stop bleeding. They do this by forming blood clots. Also called: platelets
thrombocytopenia (THROM-boh-sy-toh-PEE-nee-uh )
When the number of platelets in the blood is too low. Platelets are blood cells that help stop bleeding. This condition may result in easy bruising and excessive bleeding from wounds. It may also cause bleeding in the inside lining of your mouth and intestinal tract as well as in other tissues.
thrombophlebitis (THROM-boh-fleh-BY-tis )
When there is inflammation of a vein around a blood clot.
thrombopoietin (throm-boh-POY-eh-tin )
A growth factor that gets bone marrow to start making more platelets and other types of blood cells. It may be used to increase low blood counts during or after chemotherapy. Also called: TPO
thrombosis (throm-BOH-sis )
The formation or presence of a blood clot inside a blood vessel.
thrush (thrush )
An overgrowth of yeast in the mouth. Usually white spots appear in the mouth and throat. It is a relatively common side effect of chemotherapy or long-term steroid use.
thyroid (THYE-royd )
A gland located near the windpipe (trachea) that produces the thyroid hormone, which helps regulate growth and metabolism.
tissue (TISH-yoo )
A group or layer of cells that are alike in type and work together to perform a specific function.
tissue expander (TISH-yoo ek-SPAN-dir )
An enlarging balloon that stretches the skin after mastectomy. It is used so that an implant can fit in place and have a natural shape. It is put under the skin and chest muscles where the breast used to be. Salt water is injected into the expander every two to three weeks for about three to four months. This is done until the chest skin has stretched to the desired size. The expander is usually removed and replaced by an implant. Some expanders can be kept in place like an implant.
tomography (tuh-MAH-grah-fee )
A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine.
topical (TAH-pih-kul )
On the surface of the body.
topical chemotherapy (TAH-pih-kul KEE-moe-THER-uh-pee )
Treatment with anticancer drugs contained in a lotion, cream, ointment or special bandage. These are applied to the skin.
topoisomerase inhibitors (TOH-poh-ih-SA-mir-ace in-HIH-bih-terz )
A family of anticancer drugs. Topoisomerase enzymes can make cancer cells grow and multiply. By acting against these enzymes, these drugs may kill cancer cells or stop them from growing.
totalestrogenblockade (TOH-tulESS-truh-jinblah-KAID )
Therapy used to get rid of all estrogen in the body. This may be done with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or a combination of these treatments.
total hysterectomy (TOH-tul hiss-teh-REK-tuh-mee )
Surgery to remove the entire uterus.
total mastectomy (TOH-tul mass-TEK-tuh-mee )
Surgery to remove the whole breast. Also called: simple mastectomy
Poisonous or harmful to the body. Drugs used to kill cancer cells can also have toxic effects on normal tissue.
toxins (TOK-sinz )
Substances that are poisonous or harmful to the body. They are made by certain animals, plants, or bacteria. They can also be made in the laboratory.
tracer (TRAY-sir )
A substance (such as a radioisotope) used in imaging procedures to track the progressive spread of a condition or the pathway of medication.
TRAM flap (tram flap )
SEE: transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous flap
transformation (trans-for-MAY-shun )
The change that a normal cell undergoes as it becomes malignant.
transfusion (trans-FYOO-zhun )
When part or whole blood is put into a person’s bloodstream. The blood may be donated from another person or it may have been taken earlier from the person who is receiving the transfusion and stored until needed.
transvaginalultrasound (tranz-VA-jih-nulUL-trah-sound )
A procedure used to examine the vagina, ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, and bladder. An instrument is inserted into the vagina. It produces tiny sound waves. These sound waves bounce off organs inside the pelvic area and create echoes. A computer picks up the echoes and uses them to create a picture, called a sonogram. Also called: TVS
transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous flap (trans-VIRSREK-tusab-DAH-mih-nismy-oh-cyoo-TAY-nee-usflap )
The transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous muscle tissue is located in the lower abdomen. In most women there is enough skin, fat, and muscle here to reconstruct a new breast. The tissue can be detached and moved, or the tissue can remain attached as a flap and slid under the skin up to the chest. In either case, the tissue is sewn into place as a new breast. The excess skin and fat that are removed from the lower abdomen can be considered a “tummy tuck”, which some women appreciate as a fringe benefit from the surgery. Also called: TRAM flap
tubal ligation (TOO-bul ly-GAY-shun )
An operation to close the fallopian tubes. This procedure prevents pregnancy by blocking the passage of eggs from the ovaries to the uterus.
An abnormal mass of tissue resulting from an overgrowth of cells. It may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
tumorheterogeneity (TOO-merHEH-teh-roh-jeh-NAY-ih-tee )
Describes the fact that one tumor can have many different types of cells in it. This happens because tumor cells can have genes and proteins that are very different from one another. And they can grow at different rates. For this reason, you need to combine treatments to destroy the different cancer cells that can be in one tumor.
tumor markers (TOO-mer MAR-kirz )
tumor suppressor genes (TOO-mer suh-PREH-ser jeenz )
Genes in the body that can suppress or block the start of cancer.
|ultrasonogram (UL-trah-SAW-nuh-gram )
SEE: ultrasoundultrasonography (UL-trah-suh-NAH-grah-fee )
A procedure in which sound waves (called ultrasound) are bounced off tissues. A computer uses the echoes to create a picture, called a sonogram.
ultrasound (UL-trah-sound )
A test that uses sound waves to create images of structures within the body. The pictures appear on a computer screen. They can also be put on film. Also called: sonogram or ultrasonogram
ultrasound test (UL-trah-sound test )
A test that bounces sound waves off tissues and internal organs and changes the echoes into pictures (called sonograms, ultrasounds, or ultrasonograms).
ultravioletradiation (UL-trah-VY-oh-letray-dee-AY-shun )
Invisible rays called UVA and UVB that come from the sun. Scientists believe that these sun rays cause melanoma and other types of skin cancer, as well as premature aging. Skin specialists recommend that people use sunscreens that reflect, absorb, or scatter both kinds of UV radiation. Also called: UV radiation
uncontrolled study (un-kun-TROLD STUH-dee )
A clinical study that does not have another group under study to compare results objectively.
unilateral (yoo-nih-LA-tir-ul )
Having to do with one side of the body.
unresectable (un-ree-SEK-tuh-bul )
Tissue that cannot be removed with surgery.
ureter (YER-eh-ter )
The tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.
urethra (yoo-REE-thrah )
The tube through which urine leaves the body. It empties urine from the bladder.
urinalysis (yer-ih-NAL-ih-sis )
A test that determines the content of the urine.
urinary (YER-ih-nair-ee )
Having to do with urine or the organs of the body that produce and get rid of urine.
urinary tract (YER-ih-nair-ee trakt )
The organs of the body that produce and discharge urine. These include the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
Fluid containing water and waste products. Urine is made by the kidneys, stored in the bladder, and leaves the body through the urethra.
urologist (yur-AHL-oh-jist )
A doctor who specializes in diseases of the urinary organs in females and the urinary and sex organs in males.
uterine sarcoma (YOO-teh-rin sar-KOH-mah )
A very rare cancer in which cancer cells grow in the muscles or other supporting tissues of the wall of the uterus.
uterus (YOO-ter-us )
The small, hollow, pear-shaped organ in a woman’s pelvis. This is the organ in which a baby develops. Also called: womb
UV radiation (yoo vee ray-dee-AY-shun )
SEE: ultraviolet radiation
|vaccine (vak-SEEN )
One or more substances that cause the immune system to fight an enemy. The enemy could be a bacteria, virus, or cancer. The vaccine can be made from a weak form of the bacteria or virus or a part of a cancer cell. This piece of the enemy excites the immune system. The immune system begins to make antibodies (fighter proteins). This means the immune system is ready to act if it is exposed
to the full-strength disease. Researchers are trying to make a vaccine that works against breast cancer.vagina (vah-JY-nah )
The muscular canal extending from the uterus to the exterior of the body. Also called : the birth canal.
vaginal (VA-jih-nul )
Of or having to do with the vagina (the birth canal).
vascular endothelial growth factor (VAS-kyoo-ler en-doh-THEE-lee-ul growth FAK-tir )
A substance made by cells that causes new blood vessels to form. Also called: VEGF
VEGF (vee ee gee eff)
SEE: vascular endothelial growth factor
ventricles (VEN-trih-kulz )
Fluid-filled cavities in the heart or brain.
virus (VY-rus )
A submicroscopic organism that causes infectious disease. In cancer therapy, some viruses can be used to make vaccines that help the body build an immune response to, and kill, cancer cells.
Necessary to maintain life. For example: breathing is a vital function. It also means what’s really important to you.
vitamin A (VY-tuh-min ay )
A substance that contributes to health, sometimes used in cancer prevention. It belongs to the family of drugs called retinoids.
vitamin E (VY-tuh-min ee )
A substance that contributes to health, sometimes used in cancer prevention. It belongs to the family of drugs called tocopherols.
vitamin K (VY-tuh-min kay )
A substance that promotes the clotting of blood.
vocal cords (VOH-kul kords )
Two small bands of muscle within the larynx that vibrate to produce the sound of the voice.
vulva (VUL-vuh )
The external female genital organs, including the clitoris, vaginal lips, and the opening to the vagina.
A raised growth on the surface of the skin or other organ.WBC (DUH-bul-yoobeesee)
SEE: white blood cells
white blood cells (wite blud sellz)
Cells that help the body fight infection and disease. White blood cells include lymphocytes, granulocytes, macrophages, and others. Also called: WBC or leukocytes
|x-ray (EKS-ray )
High-energy radiation used in low doses to diagnose diseases and in high doses to treat cancer.x-ray therapy (EKS-ray THER-uh-pee )
SEE: radiation therapy
|3-dimensional (three dih-MEN-shuh-nuhl )
Seeing an image all-round, as we do in real-life. Three-dimensional radiation therapy uses computers to get a 3-dimensional picture of the cancer. This allows doctors to target the highest possible dose of radiation to the cancer, with the least possible radiation to normal tissue.