(add-en-o car-sin-o-muh). Cancer that starts in the
glandular tissue, such as in the ducts or lobules of the breast.

adjuvant therapy

(add-joo-vunt). Treatment used in addition to the main treatment. It usually
refers to hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, or radiationadded after surgery to
increase the chances of curing the disease or keeping it in check.

adrenal gland

The adrenal gland is located near each kidney. Their main function is to produce
hormones which control metabolism, fluid balance, and blood pressure. In
addition, they produce small amounts of "male" hormones (androgens)
and "female" hormones (estrogens).

advance directives

Legal documents that tell the doctor and family what a person wants for future
medical care, including whether to start or when to stop life-sustaining


(Pemetrexed) trademarked name under which pemetrexed is marketed.
Chemotherapy drug.


(al-o-pee-shuh) Hair loss. This often occurs as a result of chemotherapy or,
less often, from radiation therapy to the head. In most cases, the hair grows back
after treatment ends.

alternative and complementary therapies

Therapy refers to any of the measures taken to treat a disease. Unproven therapy
is any therapy that has not been scientifically tested and approved. Use of an
unproven therapy instead of standard therapy is called alternative therapy.
Some alternative therapies have dangerous or even life-threatening side
effects. For others, the main danger is that a patient may lose the opportunity
to benefit from standard therapy. Complementary therapy, on the other hand,
refers to therapies used in addition to standard therapy. Some complementary
therapies may help relieve certain symptoms of cancer, relieve side effects of
standard cancer therapy, or improve a patient's sense of well-being. The ACS
recommends that patients considering use of any alternative or complementary
therapy discuss this with their health care team.


(al-vee-o-lie) Air cells of the lungs.


(uh-neem-ee-uh) Low red blood cell count.


(an-es-thee-zha) The loss of feeling or sensation as a result of drugs or gases.
General anesthesia causes loss of consciousness ("puts you to sleep"). Local or
regional anesthesia numbs only a certain area.


(an-gee-o-JEN-uh-sis) The formation of new blood vessels. Some cancer
treatments work by blocking angiogenesis, thus preventing blood from reaching the tumor.

angiogenesis inhibitors

Drugs that inhibit the growth of new vessels to tumors, thus preventing further tumor


A substance (for example, the drug tamoxifen) that blocks the effects of estrogen
on tumors. Anti-estrogens are used to treat breast cancers that depend on
estrogen for growth.


Drugs used to kill organisms that cause disease. Antibiotics may be made by living organisms
or they may be created in the lab. Since some cancer treatments can reduce the
body's ability to fight off infection, antibiotics may be used to treat or prevent these infections.


A protein in the blood that defends against foreign agents, such
as bacteria. These agents contain certain substances called antigens. Each
antibody works against a specific antigen. (See also antigen.)


(an-ti-eh-MEH-tik) A drug that prevents or relieves nausea and vomiting,
common side effects of chemotherapy.


(an-tuh-jen) A substance that causes the body's immune system to react.
This reaction often involves production of antibodies. For example, the immune
system's response to antigens that are part of bacteria and viruses helps
people resist infections. Cancer cells have certain antigens that can be found
by laboratory tests. They are important in cancer diagnosis and in watching
response to treatment. Other cancer cell antigens play a role in immune
reactions that may help the body's resistance against cancer.


(an-tie-meh-TAB-o-lites) Substances that interfere with the body's chemical processes,
such as those creating proteins, DNA, and other chemicals needed for cell growth and
reproduction. In treating cancer, antimetabolite drugs disrupt DNA production, which in
turn prevents cell division and growth of tumors.


A type of cell death in which the cell basically commits suicide; scientists believe some
types of cancer may originate from an interruption of this programmed cell death, allowing
cells to grow out of control.


(uh-sigh-tees) Excess fluid accumulation in the abdominal (peritoneal) cavity.


(as-pir-ate) To draw in or out by suction. See needle aspiration.


(A-simp-toh-matic) Not having any symptoms of a disease. Many cancers can develop
and grow without producing symptoms, especially in the early stages. Screening tests such as mammograms help to find these early cancers, when the chances for cure are usually
highest. (See also screening.)


(A-tip-uh-kul) Not usual; abnormal. Often refers to the appearance of cancerous or
precancerous cells. (See also hyperplasia.)

autologous bone marrow transplant

See bone marrow transplant. (aw-tahl-uh-gus.)


(ack-sil-la) The armpit.

axillary dissection

(ack-sil-lair-ee) Removal of the lymph nodes in the armpit (axillary nodes).
They are examined for the presence of cancer.

barium enema

(Also called a double contrast barium enema) A method used to help diagnose colorectal
cancer. Barium sulfate, a chalky substance, is used to partially fill and open
up the colon. When the colon is about half-full of barium, air is replaced to
cause the colon to expand. This allows good x-ray films to be taken.

basal cell carcinoma

The most common non-melanoma skin cancer. It begins in the lowest layer of the
epidermis, called the basal cell layer. It usually develops on sun-exposed
areas, especially the head and neck. Basal cell cancer is slow-growing and is
not likely to spread to distant parts of the body.


(be-nine) Not cancer; not malignant.

benign prostatic hyperplasia

(be-nine pros-tah-tick hy-per-PLAY-zuh) (BPH)
Non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate that may cause problems with
urination such as trouble starting and stopping the flow.

benign tumor

An abnormal growth that is not cancer and does not spread to other areas of the


(bi-lat-er-ul) On both sides of the body; for example, bilateral breast cancer is
cancer in both breasts.

biologic response modifiers

Substances that boost the body's immune system to fight against cancer; interferon is one
example. Also called biologic therapy.


(buy-op-see) The removal of a sample of tissue to see whether cancer
cells are present. There are several kinds of biopsies. In some, a very thin
needle is used to draw fluid and cells from a lump. In a core biopsy, a larger
needle is used to remove more tissue.

blood count

A count of the number of red blood cells and white blood cells in a given sample of

bone marrow

The soft tissue in the hollow of flat bones of the body that produces new blood cells.

bone marrow aspiration and biopsy

A procedure in which a needle is placed into the cavity of a bone, usually the
hip or breast bone, to remove a small amount of bone marrow for examination
under a microscope.

bone marrow transplant

A complex treatment that may be used when cancer is advanced or has recurred, or as the
main treatment in some types of leukemia. The bone marrow transplant makes it
possible to use very high doses of chemotherapy that would otherwise be
impossible. Autologous bone marrow transplant means that the patient's own bone
marrow is used. An allogeneic bone marrow transplant uses marrow from a donor
whose tissue type closely matches the patient's. For leukemia, the patient
usually as an allogenic transplant. When used for advanced or recurrent cancer,
a portion of the patient's or donor's bone marrow is withdrawn, cleansed,
treated, and stored. Then the patient is given high doses of chemotherapy to
kill the cancer cells. But the drugs also destroy the remaining bone marrow,
thus robbing the body of its natural ability to fight infection. The cleansed
and stored marrow is given by transfusion (transplanted) to rescue the
patient's immune defenses. It is a risky procedure that involves a lengthy and
expensive hospital stay that may not be covered by the patient's health insurance.
The best place to have a bone marrow transplant is at a comprehensive cancer
center or other facility that has the technical skill and experience to perform
it safely.

bone scan

An imaging method that gives important information about the bones, including the
location of cancer that may have spread to the bones. It can be done on an
outpatient basis and is painless, except for the needle stick when a low-dose
radioactive substance is injected into a vein. Pictures are taken to see where
the radioactivity collects, pointing to an abnormality.

bone survey

An x-ray of all the bones of the body; often done when looking for metastasis to the


(break-ee-ther-uh-pee) Internal radiation treatment given by placing radioactive material directly into the tumor or close to it. Having this treatment does not make a person radioactive, except while the material remains in the body. It is usually removed in a few hours.

brain scan

An imaging method used to find anything not normal in the brain, including brain
cancer and cancer that has spread to the brain from other places in the body.
This scan can be done in an outpatient clinic. It is painless, except for the
needle stick when a radioactive substance is injected into a vein. The pictures
taken will show where radioactivity collects, indicating an abnormality.


(bron-ki) The two main air passages in the lungs leading from the
windpipe (trachea). The bronchi provide a passage for air to move in and out of
the lungs.


(bronk-ee-ol) One of the smaller sub-divisions of the bronchi.


(BRON-kos-ko-pee) An examination of the bronchi using a flexible,
lighted tube called a bronchoscope.


Malignancy; a group of diseases typified by abnormal, generally out-of-control,
cell growth.

cancer care team

The group of health care professionals who work together to find, treat, and care for
people with cancer. The cancer care team may include any or all of the following and others.

cancer-related checkup

A routine health examination for cancer in persons without obvious
signs or symptoms of cancer. The goal of the cancer-related checkup is to find
the disease, if it exists, at an early stage, when chances for cure are
greatest. Clinical breast examinations, Pap smears, and skin examinations are
examples of methods used in cancer-related checkups. (See also detection.)


(car-sin-o-gin) Any substance that causes cancer or helps cancer grow. For example,
tobacco smoke contains many carcinogens that greatly increase the risk of lung cancer.


(car-sin-o-ma) A malignant tumor that begins in the lining layer (epithelial cells) of organs.
At least 80% of all cancers are carcinomas.

carcinoma in situ

(car-sin-o-ma in sigh-too) An early stage of cancer in which the tumor is confined to
the organ where it first developed. The disease has not invaded other parts of the organ
or spread to distant parts of the body. Most in situ carcinomas are highly curable.

case manager

The member of a cancer care team, usually a nurse or oncology nurse specialist, who
coordinates the patient's care throughout diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.
The case manager is a new concept that provides a guide through the complex
system of health care by helping cut through red tape, getting responses to
questions, managing crises, and connecting the patient and family to needed


(cath-eh-tur) A thin, flexible tube through which fluids enter or leave the body.


Carcinoembryonic antigen (car-sin-o-em-bre-ON-ic
an-tuh-jin), antigens found in fetal tissue. If found in an adult, they
may be specific to cancerous tumors. Tests for these antigens may help in
diagnosing cancer and in finding out if the cancer has spread


The basic unit of which all living things are made. Cells replace themselves by splitting
and forming new cells (mitosis). The processes that control the formation of
new cells and the death of old cells are disrupted in cancer.


(key-mo-pre-VEN-shun) Prevention or reversal of disease using drugs, chemicals,
vitamins, or minerals. While this idea is not ready for widespread use, it is a very
promising area of study. The Breast Cancer Prevention Trial has shown that the drug
tamoxifen can prevent some cases of breast cancer among women with high risk of the disease.
But thedrug may have some serious side effects.


(key-mo-THER-uh-pee) Treatment with drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy is
often used with surgery or radiation to treat cancer when the cancer has spread, when
it has come back (recurred), or when there is a strong chance that it could recur.


The large intestine, part of the digestive tract. The colon is a muscular tube about 5
feet long.


(col-un-AH-skuh-pee) Examination of the colon with a long, flexible, lighted tube called
a colonoscope. The doctor can look for polyps during the exam and even remove them
using a wire loop passed through the colonoscope.

colony stimulating factors (CSF)

Types of growth factors that promote growth and division of blood-producing
cells in the bone marrow. CSFs are naturally produced in the body. But extra
amounts may be given as a treatment to reduce or prevent certain side effects
of chemotherapy due to not having enough blood cells.


(co-loss-tuh-me) An opening in the abdomen for getting rid of body waste (stool).
A colostomy is sometimes needed after surgery for cancer of the rectum.

combined modality therapy

Two or more types of treatment used alternately or together to get the best results.
For example, surgery for cancer is often followed by chemotherapy to destroy
any cancer cells that may have spread from the original site.

complementary treatment

See alternative and complementary therapy


(cor-ti-co-STER-oid) Any of a number of steroid substances obtained from the cortex
of the adrenal glands. They are sometimes used as an anti-cancer treatment.


(cry-o-surgery) Use of probes to flash-freeze and kill diseased tissue. Sometimes
used to treat prostate or other cancers.

CT scan

Computed tomography (tom-og-ruh-fee),
an imaging test in which many x-rays are taken of a part of the body to produce
cross-sectional pictures of internal organs. Except for the injection of a dye
(needed in some but not all cases), this is a painless procedure that can be
done in an outpatient clinic. It is often referred to as a "CT" or "CAT" scan.


A fluid-filled mass that is usually benign. The fluid can be removed for analysis.


(sis-tahs-co-pee) Examination of the bladder with an instrument called a cystoscope.


(site-o-kyne) A product of cells of the immune system that may stimulate
immunity and cause the regression of some cancers.


(cy-tahl-uh-gee) The branch of science that deals with the structure and function of cells.


(site-o-tox-ik) Toxic to cells; cell-killing.


abbreviation for diethylstilbestrola (die-eth-l-steh-BES-ter-ol),  synthetic form of


disease. Early detection means that the disease is found at an early stage,
before it has grown large or spread to other sites. Note many forms of cancer
can reach an advanced stage without causing symptoms. Mammography can help to
find breast cancer early, and the PSA blood test is useful in finding prostate


a disease by its signs or symptoms, and by using imaging procedures and
laboratory findings. The earlier a diagnosis of cancer is made, the better the
chance for long-term survival.


(dif-er-en-she-A-shun) the normal process
through which cells mature so they can carry out the jobs they were meant to
do. Cancer cells are poorly differentiated.


to divide, separate, or remove tissues.


(dee-ok-see-ri-bo-new-CLAY-ic) abbreviation for
deoxyribonucleic acid. DNA holds genetic information on cell growth, division,
and function.

doubling time

the time
it takes for a cell to divide and double itself. Cancers vary in doubling time
from 8 to 600 days, averaging 100 to 120 days. Thus, a cancer may be present
for many years before it can be felt.


for digital rectal exam. The doctor REPLACEs a gloved finger into the rectum to
feel for anything not normal.

drug resistance

refers to
the ability of cancer cells to become resistant to the effects of the
chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer.


(dis-fay-je-uh) having trouble
swallowing or eating.


(dis-play-zuh) abnormal development
of tissue.


(eh-deem-uh) build-up of fluid in the tissues, causing swelling. Edema of
the arm can occur after radical mastectomy, axillary dissection of
lymph nodes, or radiation therapy.


(e-LEK-tro-ful-ger-A-shun) a type of treatment
that destroys cancer cells by burning with an electrical current.


(em-eh-sis) vomiting

endocrine glands

(en-do-krin glands) glands that release
hormones into the bloodstream. The ovaries are one type of endocrine gland.

endocrine therapy

of hormones in order to treat a disease or condition. (See also hormone


(en-dos-ko-pee) inspection of body
organs or cavities using a flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope.

enterostomal therapist

(en-ter-es-STO-mal ther-A-pist) a nurse with special
training in caring for and teaching people with ostomies (such as colostomies)
or wounds. A nurse with this training may be referred to as an "ET


(ep-uh-deem-ee-AHL-uh-gee) the study of diseases
in populations by collecting and analyzing statistical data. In the field of
cancer, epidemiologists look at how many people have cancer; who gets specific
types of cancer; and what factors (such as environment, job hazards, family
patterns, and personal habits, such as smoking and diet) play a part in the
development of cancer.

epidermal growth factor receptor

The process of cell division, growth, differentiation and death is
a highly regulated process. Several class of trans membrane receptors play a
pivot role in this process, of these, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) a
member of Receptor Tyrosine Kinase (RTK) family are best known. These comprises
of four receptors Erb B1/HER 1, Erb B2 / HER 2, Erb B3/ HER 3, and Erb B4 / HER
4. Of these HER 2 is the most favoured target. (Source: Manoj Pandey and K Chandramohan)

esophageal speech

(eh-sof-eh-JEE-uhl) a special type of
speech used by some people after surgery for cancer of the voice box (larynx).
Air is swallowed and a "belching" type of speech can be produced. New
devices, improved surgery, and the use of chemotherapy and radiation therapy instead
of surgery, have reduced the need for learning esophageal speech.


(ee-tee-ahl-eh-jee) the cause of a
disease. In cancer, there are probably many causes, although research is
showing that both genetics and lifestyle are major factors in many cancers.

extrapleural pneumonectomy

(EPP) surgery to remove the pleura, diaphragm, pericardium, and
entire lung involved with the tumor. You can view a web cast from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston of this
procedure being done by Dr. David Sugarbaker: see the
extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) web cast here

familial adenomatous polyposis

(fa-mil-ee-ahl ah-dee-no-mat-oos pah-li-po-sis) an
hereditary condition that is a risk factor for colorectal cancer. People with
this syndrome develop polyps in the colon and rectum. Often these polyps become
cancerous. Abbreviated FAP.


(fash-uh) a sheet or thin band of fibrous tissue that covers muscles
and some organs of the body.

fecal occult blood test

a test
for "hidden" blood in the stool. The presence of such blood could be
a sign of cancer.

ferruginous bodies

(fah-rige-oo-nis) The typical
dumbbell-shaped, sometimes beaded, appearance of a asbestos fibers as they
become coated with iron and calcium. Although usually used in reference to
asbestos fibers, the central fiber may be something else. (More information & picture.)


of scar-like (fibrous) tissue. This can occur anywhere in the body.

fine needle aspiration

needle aspiration.

five-year survival rate

percentage of people with a given cancer who are expected to survive five years
or longer with the disease. Five year survival rates have some drawbacks.
Although the rates are based on the most recent information available, they may
include data from patients treated several years earlier. Advances in cancer
treatment often occur quickly. Five-year survival rates, while statistically
valid, may not reflect these advances. They should not be seen as a predictor
in an individual case.

flow cytometry

(flow cy-tom-uh-tree) a test of tumor
tissue to see how fast the tumor cells are reproducing and whether the tumor
cells contain a normal or abnormal amount of DNA. This test is used to help
predict how aggressive a cancer is likely to be. (See also ploidy, DNA, S-phase

frozen section

a piece
of tissue that has been quick-frozen and then examined under a microscope. This
method gives a quick diagnosis, sometimes while the surgeon is waiting to
complete a procedure. The diagnosis is confirmed in a few days by a more
detailed study called a permanent section. (See also permanent section.)


a segment
of DNA that contains information on hereditary characteristics such as hair
color, eye color, and height, as well as susceptibility to certain diseases.
Women who have BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations (defects) have an inherited
tendency to develop breast cancer.

gene therapy

a new type of treatment in which defective genes are replaced with
normal ones. The new genes are delivered into the cells by viruses or proteins.
(Mesothelioma gene therapy treatment options.)

genetic testing

performed to see if a person has certain gene changes known to increase cancer
risk. Such testing is not recommended for everyone, rather for those with
specific types of family history. Genetic counseling should be part of the
process as well.

GI tract

tract; the digestive tract. It consists of those organs and structures that
process and prepare food to be used for energy; for example, the stomach, small
intestine and large intestine.


a cell or
group of cells that produce and release substances used nearby or in another
part of the body.

Gleason score

a method
of grading prostate cancer cells on a scale of 2 to 10. The higher the number,
the faster the cancer is likely to grow.


The grade
of a cancer reflects how abnormal it looks under the microscope. There are
several grading systems for cancer, such as the Gleason score for prostate
cancer. Each grading system divides cancer into those with the greatest
abnormality (poorly differentiated), the least abnormality
(well-differentiated), and those in between (moderately differentiated).
Grading is done by the pathologist who examines the tissue from the biopsy. It
is important because higher grade cancers tend to grow and spread more quickly
and have a worse prognosis.

growth factors

naturally occurring protein that causes cells to grow and divide. Too much
growth factor production by some cancer cells helps them grow quickly, and new
treatments to block these growth factors are being tested in clinical trials.
Other growth factors help normal cells recover from side effects of


(hem-uh-tahl-eh-jist) a doctor who
specializes in finding and treating conditions that arise in the blood and
blood-forming tissues, including bone marrow.


(hem-uh-toe-ma) a collection of blood
outside a blood vessel caused by a leak or an injury.

hereditary cancer syndrome

associated with cancers that occur in several family members because of an
inherited, mutated gene.

high risk

when the
chance of developing cancer is greater than that normally seen in the general
population. People may be at high risk from many factors, including heredity
(such as a family history of breast cancer), personal habits (such as smoking),
or the environment (such as overexposure to sunlight).

Hodgkin's disease

a often
curable type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. Named for the doctor
who first identified it.


chemical substance released into the body by the endocrine glands such as the
thyroid, adrenal, or ovaries. The substance travels through the bloodstream and
sets in motion various body functions. For example, prolactin, which is
produced in the pituitary gland, begins and sustains the production of milk in
the breasts after childbirth.

hormone therapy

with hormones, drugs that interfere with hormone production or hormone action,
or surgical removal of hormone-producing glands to kill cancer cells or slow
their growth. The term also applies to the replacement of other hormones
(androgens, thyroid, etc.) that are deficient because of organ failure.


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


(hy-per-all-eh-men-TAY-shun) giving nutrition
other than as food, often intravenously.


(hy-per-PLAY-zuh) too much growth of
cells or tissue in a specific area, such as the lining of the breast ducts or
the prostate. By itself, hyperplasia is not cancerous, but when there is a lot
of growth or the cells are not like normal cells, the risk of cancer developing
is greater.

hyperthermia therapy

(hy-per-therm-ee-uh) treatment of disease
by raising body temperature.


(ill-ee-oss-tuh-me) an operation in which
the end of the small intestine, the ileum, is brought out through an opening in
the abdomen. The contents of the intestine, unformed stool, are expelled
through this opening into a bag called an appliance.


method used to produce a picture of internal body structures. Some imaging
methods used to detect cancer are x-rays (including mammograms and CT scans),
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), scintigraphy, and ultrasound.

immune system

complex system by which the body resists infection by microbes such as bacteria
or viruses and rejects transplanted tissues or organs. The immune system may
also help the body fight some cancers.


(im-mune-ahl-o-jee) study of how the body
resists infection and certain other diseases. Knowledge gained in this field is
important to those cancer treatments based on the principles of immunology.


(im-mune-no-suh-PREH-shun) a state in which the
body's immune system does not respond as it should. This condition may be
present at birth, or it may be caused by certain infections (such as human
immunodeficiency virus or HIV), or by certain cancer therapies, such as
cancer-cell killing (cytotoxic) drugs, radiation, and bone marrow


(im-mune-no-THER-uh-pee) treatments that
promote or support the body's immune system response to a disease such as


a small
amount of radioactive material placed in or near a cancer. Also, an artificial
form used to restore the shape of an organ after surgery, for example, a breast


(im-po-tense) not being able to
have or keep an erection of the penis.


(intensity-modulated radiation therapy) an advanced mode of
high-precision radiotherapy that utilizes computer-controlled x-ray
accelerators to deliver thin beams of radiation of different strengths (beams
of modulating intensity) directly
to the tumor from many angles. Higher and more effective radiation doses can
safely be delivered to tumors with fewer side effects as compared to
conventional radiotherapy techniques. Even when doses are not increased, IMRT
can potentially reduce treatment toxicity.

in situ

in place;
localized and confined to one area. A very early stage of cancer.


(in-con-tuh-nence) loss of urinary

informed consent

a legal
document that explains a course of treatment, the risks, benefits, and possible
alternatives; the process by which patients agree to treatment.

infraclavicular nodes

(in-frah-cluh-VIC-u-lar) lymph nodes located
beneath the collar bone (clavicle).


(in-ter-fear-on) a protein produced by
cells. Interferon helps regulate the body's immune system, boosting activity
when a threat, such as a virus, is found. Scientists have learned that
interferon helps fight against cancer, so it is used to treat some types of

interstitial radiation therapy

(in-ter-stish-al)  a type of treatment
in which a radioactive implant is placed directly into the tissue (not in a
body cavity).

intraperitoneal chemotherapy

(IPC) a
form of regional chemotherapy; the flooding of the abdominal cavity with
chemotheraputic drugs to target the cancer cells directly. It is sometimes
heated to improve absorption of the anticancer drugs by the cancerous cells and
because heat itself can kill cancer cells.

invasive cancer

that has spread beyond the area where it first developed to involve adjacent
tissues. For example, invasive breast cancers develop in milk glands (lobules)
or milk passages (ducts) and spread to the nearby fatty breast tissue. Some
invasive cancers spread to distant areas of the body (metastasize), but others
do not. Also called infiltrating cancer.




section of the small intestine between the duodenum and the ileum.


(lair-en-jek-tuh-me) surgery to remove the
voice box (larynx), usually because of cancer.


(lee-zhun) a change in body tissue; sometimes used as another word for


(loo-key-me-uh) cancer of the blood or
blood-forming organs. People with leukemia often have a noticeable increase in
white blood cells (leukocytes).


(loo-ko-PEEN-ee-uh) decrease in the while
blood cell count, often a side effect of chemotherapy.


(loo-ko-play-key-uh) formation of white
patches on the tongue or cheek. These are often pre-malignant.

LHRH analogs

for leuteinizing hormone-releasing hormone. Man-made hormones that block the
production of the male hormone testosterone; sometimes used as a treatment for
prostate cancer.

linear accelerator

a machine
used in radiation therapy to treat cancer. It gives off gamma rays and electron


(lob-bek-to-me) surgery to remove a
lobe of an organ--usually the lung.

localized cancer

a cancer
that is confined to the place where it started; that is, it has not spread to
distant parts of the body.


any kind
of mass in the breast or elsewhere in the body.


(limf) clear fluid that flows through the lymphatic vessels and
contains cells known as lymphocytes. These cells are important in fighting
infections and may also have a role in fighting cancer.

lymph nodes

bean-shaped collections of immune system tissue such as lymphocytes, found
along lymphatic vessels. They remove cell waste and fluids from lymph and help
fight infections. Also called lymph glands.

lymphatic system

tissues and organs (including bone marrow, spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes)
that produce and store lymphocytes (cells that fight infection) and the
channels that carry the lymph fluid. The entire lymphatic system is an
important part of the body's immune system. Invasive cancers sometimes
penetrate the lymphatic vessels (channels) and spread (metastasize) to lymph


accumulation of lymphatic fluid as a result of obstruction or removal of
lymphatic vessels or lymph nodes, swelling results.


a type of
white blood cell that helps the body fight infection.


(lim-foam-uh) a cancer of the
lymphatic system, a network of thin vessels and nodes throughout the body. Its
function is to fight infection. Lymphoma involves a type of white blood cells
called lymphocytes. The two main types of lymphoma are Hodgkin's disease and
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The treatment methods for these two types of lymphomas
are very different.

malignant tumor

(muh-lig-nant) a mass of cancer
cells that may invade surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant
areas of the body.


edge of
the tissue removed during surgery. A negative margin is a sign that no cancer
was left behind. A positive margin indicates that cancer cells are found at the
outer edge of tissue removed during surgery. It is usually a sign that some
cancer remains in the body.


(me-dee-as-tin-OS-ko-pee) examination of the
chest cavity using a lighted tube replaced under the chest bone (sternum). This
allows the doctor to see the lymph nodes in this area and remove samples to
check for cancer.

medical oncologist

a doctor
who is specially trained to diagnose and treat cancer and who specializes in
the use of chemotherapy and other drugs to treat cancer.


(mel-uh-no-muh) a cancerous
(malignant) tumor that begins in the cells that produce the skin coloring
(melanocytes). Melanoma is almost always curable in its early stages. However,
it is likely to spread, and once it has spread to other parts of the body the
chances for a cure are much less.


a tumor derived from mesothelial tissue, such as the peritoneum
(lining the abdomen) or pleura (lining the lungs). More on mesothelioma.


(meh-tas-teh-sis) the spread of cancer
cells to distant areas of the body by way of the lymph system or bloodstream.


spread of cancer cells in groups so small that they can only be seen under a

monoclonal antibodies

made in the laboratory and designed to target specific substances called
antigens. Monoclonal antibodies which have been attached to chemotherapy drugs
or radioactive substances are being studied to see if they can seek out
antigens unique to cancer cells and deliver these treatments directly to the
cancer, thus killing the cancer cells without harming healthy tissue.
Monoclonal antibodies are also used in other ways, for example, to help find
and classify cancer cells.


a measure
of the new cases of a disease in a population; the number of people who have a


a measure
of the rate of death from a disease within a given population.


for magnetic resonance imaging. A method of taking pictures of the inside of
the body. Instead of using x-rays, MRI uses a powerful magnet and transmits
radio waves through the body; the images appear on a computer screen as well as
on film. Like x-rays, the procedure is physically painless, but some people
find it psychologically uncomfortable to be in the small core of the MRI

mucinous carcinoma

(mu-sin-us car-sin-o-ma) a type of carcinoma
that is formed by mucus-producing cancer cells.


(mu-co-site-us) inflammation of a
mucous membrane such as the lining of the mouth.

multimodality therapy

approach to therapy which utilizes a variety of treatments at once as opposed
to following only one mode of treatment.


a change;
a change in a gene.

needle aspiration

a type of
needle biopsy. Removal of fluid from a cyst or cells from a tumor. In this
procedure, a needle is used to reach the cyst or tumor, and with suction, draw
up (aspirate) samples for examination under a microscope. If the needle is
thin, the procedure is called a fine needle aspiration or FNA. (See also

needle biopsy

of fluid, cells, or tissue with a needle for examination under a microscope.
There are two types

needle localization

procedure used to guide a surgical breast biopsy when the lump is hard to
locate or when there are areas that look suspicious on the x-ray but there is
not a distinct lump. A thin needle is placed into the breast. X-rays are taken
and used to guide the needle to the suspicious area. The surgeon then uses the
path of the needle as a guide to locate the abnormal area to be removed. Fine
needle aspiration (FNA) and core biopsy. FNA uses a thin needle to draw up
(aspirate) fluid or small tissue fragments from a cyst or tumor. A core needle
biopsy uses a thicker needle to remove a cylindrical sample of tissue from a


(nee-o-plas-um) an abnormal growth
(tumor) that starts from a single altered cell; a neoplasm may be benign or
malignant. Cancer is a malignant neoplasm.

nodal status

a small,
solid lump that can be located by touch.

non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

a cancer
of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of thin vessels and
nodes throughout the body. Its function is to fight infection. What
distinguishes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma from Hodgkin's lymphoma is the absence of
a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. This cell is present only in
Hodgkin's lymphoma. The treatment methods for Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's
lymphomas are very different.

nuclear medicine scan

a method
for localizing diseases of internal organs such as the brain, liver, or bone.
Small amounts of a radioactive substance (isotope) are injected into the
bloodstream. The isotope collects in certain organs. A scintillation camera is
used to produce an image of the organ and detect areas of disease.


(new-clee-us) the center of a cell
where the DNA is housed and replicated. Studying the size and shape of a cell's
nucleus under the microscope can help pathologists distinguish cancer cells
from benign cells.

nurse practitioner

registered nurse (RN) who has completed additional courses and specialized
training. Nurse practitioners can work with or without the supervision of a
physician. They take on additional duties in diagnosis and treatment of
patients, and in many states they may write prescriptions. (See also oncology
nurse specialist.)


(on-ko-gene) a type of gene. Normally inactive, when these genes are
"turned on" (activated), they cause normal cells to change into
cancer cells.


(on-call-o-jist) a doctor who is
specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Medical oncologists
specialize in the use of chemotherapy and other drugs to treat cancer.
Radiation oncologists specialize in the use of x-rays (radiation) to kill
tumors. Surgical oncologists specialize in using surgery to treat cancer.


(on-call-o-jee) the branch of
medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

oncology nurse specialist

registered nurse with a master's degree in oncology and who specializes in the
care of cancer patients. Oncology nurse specialists may prepare and administer
treatments, monitor patients, prescribe and provide supportive care, and teach
and counsel patients and their families. Some oncology nurse specialists are
also certified nurse practitioners.

oncology social worker

a person
with a master's degree in social work who works with cancer patients. The
oncology social worker provides counseling and assistance to people with cancer
and their families, especially in dealing with the non-medical crises that can
result from cancer, such as financial problems, housing (when treatments must
be taken at a facility far away from home), and child care.


(os-to-me) a general term meaning an opening, especially one made by
surgery. See also colostomy, ileostomy, urostomy, and tracheostomy.

palliative care

(pal-e-uh-tive) treatment that
relieves symptoms, such as pain, but is not expected to cure the disease. The
main purpose is to improve the patient's quality of life.


(pal-pay-shun) using the hands to
examine. A palpable mass is one that can be felt.


(path-all-eh-jist) a doctor who
specializes in diagnosis and classification of diseases by laboratory tests
(such as examination of tissue and cells under a microscope). The pathologist
determines whether a lump is benign or cancerous.


chemotheraputic agent that interferes with a crucial process that
allows cancer cells to reproduce and spread. Specifically, pemetrexed stops the
production of three enzymes that are required to feed the cancer cell. Often
used in combination with cisplatin. Marketed under the name ALIMTA. See: Alimta.


(pair-uh-tuh-nee-al) the serous membrane
that lines the cavity of the abdomen. (More on Peritoneal Mesothelioma.)

permanent section

of tissue for microscopic examination. The tissue is soaked in formaldehyde,
processed in various chemicals, surrounded by a block of wax, sliced very thin,
attached to a microscope slide and stained. This usually takes 1-2 days. It
provides a clear view of the sample so that the presence or absence of cancer
can be determined.


an inert, inactive substance that may be used in studies (clinical trials) to
compare the effects of a given treatment with no treatment. In common speech, a
"sugar pill."


a part of
the blood that helps it "stick together" (clot) to promote healing
after an injury. Chemotherapy can cause a drop in the platelet count--a
condition called thrombocytopenia.


(pler-uh) the membrane around the lungs and lining of the chest
cavity. (Pleural mesothelioma.)

pleural effusion

abnormal accumulation of fluid, usually caused by trauma or disease, in the
pleural space.


(ploy-dee) a measure of the amount of DNA contained in a cell. Ploidy
is a marker that helps predict how quickly a cancer is likely to spread.
Cancers with the same amount of DNA as normal cells are called diploid and
those with either more or less than that amount are aneuploid. About two-thirds
of breast cancers are aneuploid.


(new-mo-NEK-to-me) surgery to remove a


a growth
from a mucous membrane commonly found in organs such as the rectum, the uterus,
and the nose.


(poly-peck-tow-me) surgery to remove a


see pre


in cells that may, but do not always, become cancer. Also called precancerous.


to a disease that can be triggered under certain conditions. For example, some
women have a family history of breast cancer and are therefore more likely (but
not necessarily destined) to develop breast cancer.


a measure
of the proportion of persons in the population with a certain disease at a
given time.

primary site

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


(prog-no-sis) a prediction of the
course of disease; the outlook for the cure of the patient. For example, women
with breast cancer that was detected early and who received prompt treatment
have a good prognosis.


(pros-tate)  a gland found only in men. It is just below the bladder and
in front of the rectum. The prostate makes a fluid that is part of semen. The
tube that carries urine, the urethra, runs through the prostate.

prostate specific antigen

see PSA,
prostatitis (pros-tuh-TIE-tus)


(pros-thee-sis) an artificial form to
replace a part of the body, such as a breast prosthesis (inflammation of the
prostate. Prostatitis is not cancer.).


(pro-teh-call) a formal outline or
plan, such as a description of what treatments a patient will receive and
exactly when each should be given.


specific antigen) a protein made by the prostate. Levels of PSA often go up in
men with prostate cancer. The PSA test measures levels in the blood and is used
to help find prostate cancer as well as to monitor the results of treatment.

radiation oncologist

a doctor
who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer.

radiation therapist

a person
with special training who runs the equipment that delivers the radiation.

radiation therapy

with radiation to destroy cancer cells. This type of treatment may be used to
reduce the size of a cancer before surgery, to destroy any remaining cancer
cells after surgery, or, in some cases, as the main treatment.

radical prostatectomy

to remove the entire prostate gland, the seminal vesicles and nearby tissue.


a type of
atom that is unstable and prone to break up (decay). This break-up gives off
small fragments of atoms and energy. Exposure to certain radioisotopes can
cause cancer. Radioisotopes can also be used to treat cancer. During some
tests, radioisotopes are injected into the blood. They travel through the body
and collect in areas where the disease is active, showing up as highlighted
areas on the pictures.

radiologic technologist

a health
professional (not a doctor) trained to position patients for x-rays, take the
images, and then develop and check the images for quality. The films taken by
the technologist are sent to a radiologist to be read.


a doctor
who has special training in reading x-rays and other types of diagnostic
imaging studies, for example, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging.

radionuclide bone scan

a study
using a small amount of radioisotope to produce images of the bones.


that has come back after treatment. Local recurrence is when the cancer comes
back at the same place as the original cancer. Regional recurrence is when the
cancer appears in the lymph nodes near the first site. Distant recurrence is
when it appears in organs or tissues (such as the lungs, liver, bone marrow, or
brain) farther from the original site than the regional lymph nodes. Metastasis
means that the disease has recurred at a distant site.

red blood cells

cells that contain hemoglobin, the substance that carries oxygen to other
tissues of the body.


(rej-uh-men) a strict, regulated plan (such as diet, exercise, or other
activity) designed to reach certain goals. In cancer treatment, a plan to treat

regional involvement

spread of cancer from its original site to nearby areas, but not to distant
sites such as other organs.


to help a person adjust, heal, and return to a full, productive life after
injury or illness. This may involve physical restoration (such as the use of
prostheses, exercises, and physical therapy), counseling, and emotional


of cancer after a disease-free period. See recurrence.


or partial disappearance of the signs and symptoms of cancer in response to
treatment; the period during which a disease is under control. A remission may
not be a cure.

rescue treatment

or treatments such as bone marrow transplantation that "rescue" a
patient's immune system and blood-forming organs from the effects of high dose


to remove part or all of an organ or other structure.



risk factor

that increases a person's chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different
cancers have different risk factors. For example, exposure to sunlight is a
risk factor for skin cancer, smoking is a risk factor for lung and other
cancers, and a high-fat, low-fiber diet is a risk factor for colorectal cancer.
Some risk factors, such as smoking, can be controlled. Others, like a person's
age, can't be changed

S-phase fraction

(SPF) the
percentage of cells that are replicating their DNA. DNA replication usually
means that a cell is getting ready to split into two new cells. A low SPF is a
sign that a tumor is slow-growing; a high SPF shows that the cells are dividing
rapidly and the tumor is growing quickly.


(sar-co-muh) a malignant tumor growing from connective tissues, such as
cartilage, fat, muscle, or bone.


a study
using either x-rays or radioactive isotopes to produce images of internal body


referred to as Neurilomas, slow-growing central nervous system tumours arising
from the cells which comprise the nerve sheath (Schwann cells).

scintillation camera

(sin-till-AY-shun) device used in
nuclear medicine scans to detect radioactivity and produce images that help
diagnose cancer and other diseases.


search for disease, such as cancer, in people without symptoms. For example,
the principal screening measure for breast cancer is mammography. Screening may
refer to coordinated programs in large populations.

secondary tumor

a tumor
that forms as a result of spread (metastasis) of cancer from the place where it

sentinel lymph node biopsy

a new
procedure that might replace standard axillary lymph node dissection. Blue dye
or a radioisotope tracer is injected into the tumor site at the time of surgery
and the first (sentinel) node that picks up the dye is removed and biopsied. If
the node is cancer- free, no more nodes are removed.

side effects

of treatment (other than the effects on the cancer) such as hair loss caused by
chemotherapy, and fatigue caused by radiation therapy.


(sig-moid-AH-sko-pee) a test to help find
cancer or polyps on the inside of the rectum and part of the colon. A slender,
hollow, lighted tube is placed into the rectum. The doctor is able to look for
polyps or other abnormalities.

spinal tap

procedure in which a thin needle is placed in the spinal canal to withdraw a
small amount of spinal fluid or to give medicine into the central nervous
system through the spinal fluid.

sputum cytology

(spu-tum sigh-tahl-uh-gee) a study of phlegm
cells under a microscope to see whether they are normal or not.

squamous cell carcinoma

(skwa-mus cell car-sin-oma) cancer that begins in
the non-glandular cells, for example, the skin.


process of finding out whether cancer has spread and if so, how far. There is
more than one system for staging. The TNM system, described below, is one used
often. The TNM system for staging gives three key pieces of information: T
refers to the size of the Tumor N describes how far the cancer has spread to
nearby Nodes M shows whether the cancer has spread (Metastasized) to other
organs of the body Letters or numbers after the T, N, and M give more details
about each of these factors. To make this information somewhat clearer, the TNM
descriptions can be grouped together into a simpler set of stages, labeled with
Roman numerals. In general, the lower the number, the less the cancer has
spread. A higher number means a more serious cancer.

standard therapy, standard treatment


stem cell and stem cell transplant

variation of bone marrow transplantation in which immature blood cells called
stem cells are taken from the patient's blood and later, in the lab, stimulated
with growth factors to produce more stem cells which are returned to the
patient by transfusion.


(steh-no-sis) a narrowing
(stricture) of a duct or canal.

stereotactic needle biopsy

(ster-e-o-TAC-TIC) a method of needle
biopsy that is useful in some cases in which calcifications or a mass can be
seen on mammogram but cannot be found by touch. A computer maps the location of
the mass to guide the placement of the needle. (See also needle aspiration,
needle biopsy.)


opening, especially an opening made by surgery to allow elimination of body
waste. (See also colostomy, ileostomy, urostomy.)


(sto-ma-ti-tis) inflammation or
ulcers of mouth area. Stomatitis can be a side effect of some kinds of

supraclavicular lymph nodes

(su-prah-clah-vic-u-lar) lymph nodes that are
found just above the collarbone (clavicle).

surgical biopsy


survival rate

percentage of survivors with no trace of disease within a certain period of
time after diagnosis or treatment. For cancer, a 5-year survival rate is often
given. This does not mean that people can't live more than five years, or that
those who live for 5 years are necessarily permanently cured.

systemic disease

(sis-tem-ick) in cancer, this term
means that the tumor that originated in one place has spread to distant organs
or structures.

systemic therapy

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


(tes-toss-ter-own) the male hormone,
made primarily in the testes. It stimulates blood flow, growth in certain
tissues, and the secondary sexual characteristics. In men with prostate cancer,
it can also encourage growth of the tumor.


any of
the measures taken to treat a disease. Unproven therapy is any therapy that has
not been scientifically tested and approved. Use of an unproven therapy instead
of standard (proven) therapy is called alternative therapy. Some alternative
therapies have dangerous or even life-threatening side effects. For others, the
main danger is that a patient may lose the opportunity to benefit from standard
therapy. Complementary therapy, on the other hand, refers to therapies used in
addition to standard therapy. Some complementary therapies may help relieve
certain symptoms of cancer, relieve side effects of standard cancer therapy, or
improve a patient's sense of well-being. The ACS recommends that patients
considering use of any alternative or complementary therapy discuss this with
their health care team.


(throm-bo-sigh-toe-PEEN-ee-ah) a decrease in the
number of platelets in the blood; can be a side effect of chemotherapy.


collection of cells, united to perform a particular function.

TNM staging system



(tray-key-uh) the
"windpipe." The trachea connects the larynx (voice box) with the
bronchi and serves as the main passage for air into the lungs.


(tray-key-ah-sto-me) surgery to create an
opening of the trachea through the neck.

transrectal ultrasound

(trans-rec-tuhl) TRUS, the use of
sound waves to create a picture of the prostate on a screen to help detect


abnormal lump or mass of tissue. Tumors can be benign (not cancerous) or
malignant (cancerous).

tumor marker

proteins on the surface of some cancerous cells that sometimes are used to
monitor response to treatment or detect recurrence.

tumor suppressor genes

that, when present, prevent cell growth but when not present or when not active
allow cells to grow out of control.

tumor vascular disruptors

that target existing blood vessels that feed a tumor. Different from
angiogenesis inhibitors in that they attack existing blood vessels as opposed
to preventing the growth of new vessels. If the tumors are large, hemorrhage
within the tumor may result when the tumor blood vessels are attacked.


or formation of tumors.

tunica vaginalis

serous sheath of the testis and epididymis, derived from the peritoneum; it
consists of outer parietal and inner visceral serous layers.


imaging method in which high-frequency sound waves are used to outline a part
of the body. The sound wave echoes are picked up and displayed on a television
screen. Also called ultrasonography.


one side of the body. For example, unilateral breast cancer occurs in one
breast only. (See also bilateral).


(yoo-ree-thruh) the tube that carries
urine from the bladder to the outside. In women, this tube is fairly short; in
men it is longer, passing through the penis, and it also carries the semen.

urine cytology

(urine cy-tahl-uh-ge) urine is examined
under a microscope to look for cancerous and precancerous cells. Cytology can
also be done on bladder washings. Bladder washing samples are taken by placing
a salt solution into the bladder through a tube (catheter) and then removing
the solution for testing.


(yur-ol-o-jist) a doctor who
specializes in treating problems of the urinary tract in men and women, and of
the genital tract in men.


(yur-os-tuh-me) surgery to divert
urine through a new passage and then through an opening in the abdomen. In a
continent urostomy, the urine is stored inside the body and drained a few times
a day through a tube placed into an opening called a stoma.


the womb.
The pear-shaped organ in women that holds and nourishes the growing embryo and
fetus. The uterus has three areas: the body or upper part, the isthmus or the
narrowed central area, and the cervix, the lower portion.


modified virus of a disease used to bring about resistance to that disease for
a period of time, or even permanently. Development of a cancer vaccine is a
subject of intense research.


small organisms that cause infections. Viruses are too small to be seen with a
regular microscope. They reproduce only in living cells.

visceral pleura

immediately surrounding the lung; the parietal pleura lines the chest wall and
between the parietal and visceral pleura is the pleural space.

watchful waiting

of active treatment for prostate cancer, the doctor may suggest close
monitoring. This may be a reasonable choice for older men with small tumors
that might grow very slowly. If the situation changes, active treatment can be

white blood cells

there are
several types of blood cells that help defend the body against infections.
Certain cancer treatments such as chemotherapy can reduce the number of these
cells and make a person more likely to get infections.


one form
of radiation that can be used at low levels to produce an image of the body on
film or at high levels to destroy cancer cells.

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