Glossary of Terms

A medication for pain relief.
Loss of hair.
A low red blood count which can result in fatigue and sometimes dizziness or shortness of breath
Loss of appetite.

An abnormal growth or tumor which is not cancer and does not spread to other areas of the body.
Biologic Response Modifiers:
A new class of compounds, such as interferon, produced in the body that fight cancer naturally by stimulating the body’s own immune system; also called "immunotherapy".
The surgical removal of a small piece of tissue for microscopic examination to determine of cancer cells are present.
Bone Marrow:
The soft, fatty substance that fills the cavities of bones where blood cells are made.
Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy:
A procedure in which a needle is inserted into the cavity of a bone, usually the hip or breast bone, to remove a small amount of bone marrow for microscopic examination.
Brachytherapy is a method of treatment in which sealed radioactive sources are used to deliver radiation into or near the tumor. With this method of treatment, a high radiation dose can be delivered locally to the tumor with little effect to the surrounding normal tissue. This treatment may also be called internal radiation therapy. The source of radiation may be temporary or permanent. The most common uses of brachytherapy are the seed implants for prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and certain head and neck cancers.

A general term for a large group of diseases (more than 100), all characterized by uncontrolled growth, invasion and spread of abnormal cells to other parts of the body.
Any substance that initiates or promotes the development of cancer. For example, asbestos is a carcinogen.
A form of cancer that develops in tissues covering the lining organs of the body, such as the skin, the uterus, the lung, or the breast; adenocarcinoma affects glandular tissue, squamous cell carcinoma affects epithelial tissue.
Carcinoma In Situ:
An early stage in development, when the cancer is still confined to one layer of tissue. In situ carcinomas are highly curable.
Systemic treatment of cancer with medicines administered orally or by injection.
Clinical Trial:
The scientific evaluation of the means to prevent, detect, diagnosis, or treat disease in human beings. Clinical trials are conducted after experiments in animals have shown evidence of potential effectiveness and preliminary studies in humans suggest usefulness.
Computerized Tomography Scans (CT Scans):
Specialized x-ray studies that give cross-sectional views of the body; sometimes called "e;CAT"e; scans.
An inflammation of the bladder.

Swelling of the Body tissues with fluid.
Vomiting with or without nausea.

Growth Factor:
A hormone-like substance (medication) that stimulates the bone marrow to produce blood cells; also called colony-stimulating factor (CSF).

Nourishing the body through the veins or a tube into the stomach with high calorie fluids; also called total parenteral nutrition (TPN).

Informed Consent:
The process by which sufficient information is provided by the healthcare team in understandable language about proposed treatment in order for the patient to make decisions about treatment and care.
Intravenous; injection of a solution into a vein; intravenous fluids.

A change in body tissue; sometimes used as a synonym for tumor.
Cancer of the blood-forming tissues which is categorized as acute of chronic.
The removal of a breast cancer (lump) and the surrounding tissue without removing the entire breast. It is a less radical procedure than mastectomy and is usually followed by radiation treatment.
Lymph nodes:
Oval-shaped organs, often the size of peas or beans, that are located throughout the body and contain clusters of cells called lymphocytes. They produce infection-fighting lymphocytes and also filter out and destroy bacteria, foreign substances and cancer cells. They are connected by small vessels called lymphatics. Lymph nodes act as our first line of defense against infections and the spread of cancer.
Lymphatic system:
The system of lymph nodes and the lymphatic vessels that connect them.
Swelling, usually of an arm or leg, caused by obstructed lymphatic vessels. It can develop because of a tumor or as an unusual late effect of surgery or radiotherapy.
A form of cancer that affects the lymph system which is categorized as Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s varieties.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI):
A technique using magnetic fields to produce images of the body; useful in disease diagnosis, including cancer
Impaired intestinal absorption of nutrients.
Malignant Tumor:
A mass of cancer cells. A malignant tumor may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the body.
The image produced by a low-dose x-ray of the breast.
A type of skin cancer such as a mole which changes in appearance.
The spread of cancer cells to distant areas of the body by way of the lymph system or bloodstream; the term metastases refers to these new cancer sites.
Monoclonal Antibodies:
Antibodies designed to seek out chosen targets on cancer cells; they are several currently available to deliver chemotherapy and radiotherapy directly to a cancer, thus killing the cancer cells and sparing healthy tissue.
Mucous Membranes:
Tissues that line the passages and cavities that communicate with air, such as the GI Tract.

Any new abnormal growth.
Low white blood cell count which creates high risk for infection.
Nuclear Scan:
A technique in which radioactive dye is injected into a vein, so that images of the body can be recorded to detect the cancerous tissue. The brain, bone, and liver are common sites scanned.

The science dealing with the physical, chemical, and biologic properties and features of cancer.
Ommaya Reservoir:
Device implanted in the ventricle of the brain through which chemotherapy is administered.

Palliative Treatment:
Therapy that relieves symptoms, such as pain, but does not alter the course of the disease.
Progressive contraction and relaxation of the intestines.
Primary Sites:
The site in the body where cancer originated.
A prediction of the course of the disease.
An artificial substitute for a missing body part.

Local treatment of cancer with high-energy radiation.
Radiation/Portal Field:
The area of the body designated to receive radiotherapy; usually marked with ink or tattoos.
Complete or partial disappearance of disease.
Right Atrial Catheter or Central Venous Catheter:
A tube stitched into the vein through which medications and other solutions are given; remains in place until not needed.

A form of cancer that arises in the supportive tissues, such as bone, cartilage, fat or muscle.
An evaluation of the extent of cancer which provides the basis for making treatment recommendations.
Stereotactic Radiosurgery:
Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) is a one-day, single treatment, outpatient procedure that delivers a focused dose of radiation to the target. With this treatment, the lesion location is determined by MRI scans and /or CT scans, a 3-D treatment plan is established, and then multiple precisely-guided radiation beams from the LINAC equipment treat the tumor in a single treatment. A SRS procedure is completed in a few hours and actual dose administration time is typically less than 45 minutes. Currently, SRS is appropriate for a variety of malignant and benign brain tumors as well as other brain disorders. When this same equipment and process is used to deliver a similarly accurate treatment in multiple fractions over several days it is called Stereotactic Radiotherapy.
Inflammation and/or sores of the oral mucous membrane resulting from chemotherapy or radiation to the head and neck regions; also a mucositis.
Subcutaneous Venous Access Disk:
Device implanted under the skin through which chemotherapy, IV fluids, and blood may be given; sometimes called "implanted port".

An abnormal tissue swelling or mass that may be either benign or malignant (cancer).
Low platelet count which creates high risk for bleeding.