Charting Your Course : Seminar I - Taking Your Bearings : Cancer Words

Acute-A sudden onset of symptoms or disease.
Adenocarcinoma-Cancer arising in glandular tissue, such as the prostate.
Adjuvant Chemotherapy-One or more anti-cancer drugs used in combination with surgery or radiation therapy as a part of the treatment of cancer. Adjuvant usually means "in addition to" initial treatment.
Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplant-A bone marrow transplant using bone marrow from someone who is healthy.
Analgesic -Any drug that relieves pain. Aspirin and acetaminophen are mild analgesics.
Antibody-A substance formed by the body to help defend it against infection.
Antigen-Any substance that causes the body to produce natural antibodies.
Aspiration -The process of removing fluid or tissue, or both, from a specific area.
Autologous Bone Marrow Transplant-The replacement or recycling of the patient's bone marrow through the process of high-dose chemotherapy and surgery.
Basal Cell Carcinoma-The most common type of skin cancer.
Benign -A swelling or growth that is not cancerous, does not spread from one part of the body to another, and is usually not life-threatening.
Biological Therapy-Also called immunotherapy. Therapy with natural chemicals to kill or regulate growth of cancer cells.
Biopsy-A procedure where a piece of tissue or fluid (a group of cells) is taken from a person's body and examined with a microscope to see if the cells are normal or not. A biopsy is a common way of determining if a person has cancer and, if so, what type it is.
Blood Cells-Cells that make up the blood. They are produced in bone marrow and consist of (1) red cells (which bring oxygen to tissue and take carbon dioxide from them), (2) white blood cells (which fight invading germs, infections and allergy-causing agents), and (3) platelets (which are responsible for clotting).
Blood Counts-The number value assigned to the major types of blood cells. Blood counts indicate the number of blood cells (red cells, white cells, and platelets) circulating in your bloodstream.
Bone Marrow-The soft, spongy center of the bone. Bone marrow can be thought of as a "factory" that produces blood.
Bone Marrow Transplantation-A procedure in which doctors replace marrow destroyed by treatment with high doses of anticancer drugs or radiation. The replacement marrow may be taken from the patient before treatment or may be donated by another person. When the patient's own marrow is used, the procedure is called autologous bone marrow transplant. When someone else's marrow is used, the procedure is called allogeneic.
Brachytherapy-Radiation treatment in which radioactive pellets are inserted; also called seed implantation.
BRCA 1&2-The principal genes that indicate an inherited susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancers.
Cancer-A general term for more than 100 diseases characterized by abnormal and uncontrolled growth of calls. The resulting mass, or tumor, can invade and destroy surrounding normal tissues.
Cancer Fatigue-A certain type of fatigue associated with the cancer experience that has physical, social, and psychological impact.
Carcinogen-A substance or agent that is known to cause cancer.
Carcinoma-A kind of cancer that starts in the lining of organs.
Case Manager-A person hired by your insurance company or hospital to evaluate your ongoing care.
Chemoprevention-Use of drugs to prevent cancer development or growth.
Chemotherapy-Treatment with anti-cancer medicines.
Clinical Trials-Tests on human subjects of existing, new, or experimental treatments.
Colony-Stimulating Factors-Substances that stimulate the production of blood cells. Treatment with colony-stimulating factors (CSF) can help the blood-forming tissue recover from the effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These include granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSF) and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factors (GM-CSF).
Combination Chemotherapy-the use of more than one drug during cancer treatment.
Computer Tomography-Computer-generated cross-sectional images of a portion of the body. Also called CT scan or CAT scan.
Durable Power of Attorney-A legal document that lets you appoint someone to make health decisions for you if you become unable to do so for yourself.
Edema -The swelling or accumulation of fluid in a part of the body.
Excision-Surgical removal.
Fecal Occult Blood Test-A test to check for hidden blood in stools. (Fecal refers to stool; occult means hidden.)
Gene Therapy-Treatment that alters genes (the basic units of heredity found in all cells in the body). In early studies of gene therapy for cancer, researchers are trying to improve the body's natural ability to fight the disease or to make the tumor more sensitive to other kinds of therapy.
Healthcare Proxy-A person you appoint as your agent to make healthcare decisions for you if you become unable to do so for yourself.
Hematologist-A doctor who specializes in the problems of blood and bone marrow.
Hormone Therapy-Treatment that prevents certain cells from getting the hormone they need to grow.
Hospice-Care for the terminally ill and supportive services for patients and their families.
Hyperalimentation-The intravenous administration of a highly nutritious solution.
Immune System-The complex group of cells and organs that defends the body against infection and disease.
Immunotherapy-Use of the immune system or the products of the immune system to control, damage, or destroy malignant cells. (See Biological Therapy)
Immunosuppression-Weakening of the immune system causing a lowered ability to fight infection and disease.
Impotence-Inability to have an erection.
Infertility-Sterile or barren.
Informed Consent-The legal standard that states that a patient must know certain risks and benefits regarding therapy before agreeing to take it.
Interferon-A type of biological response modifier (a substance that can improve the body's natural response to disease). It stimulates the growth of certain disease-fighting blood cells in the immune system.
Living Will -A document that provides specific instructions about your healthcare treatment.
Leukemia-Cancer of the blood. White blood cells may be produced in excessive amounts and are unable to work properly.
Leukopenia-A low number of white blood cells.
Long-Term Effects-Known or expected problems that may occur in persons who have received certain treatments.
Lump-A thickness under the skin that can be felt by the fingers, either by the person who has it or by a doctor. A lump can be a sign of cancer, but most lumps are not cancerous.
Lumpectomy-Surgical removal of the cancerous portion of the breast and a small amount of surrounding tissue. Four to six weeks of radiation often follow.
Lymphatic System-Spaces and vessels between body tissues and organs through which lumps, a clear fluid, circulates; the lymphatic system removes bacteria and other materials from tissues. Metastasizing cancer cells often appear in lymph nodes.
Lymphedema-A swelling of the arms and legs caused by surgery, radiation or inherited abnormalities.
Lymph Nodes- Small, bean-shaped organs located along the channels of the lymphatic system. Bacteria or cancer cells that enter the lymphatic system may be found in the nodes. Also called lymph glands.
Lymphocytes-White blood cells that kill viruses and defend against the invasion of foreign materials.
Lymphoma-This is a type of cancer that starts in the lymph nodes.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) -A method of creating images of the body using magnetic field and radio waves rather than x-rays. Although the images are similar to those of CT scans, they can be taken in all three directions rather than just in cross-sections.
Malignant Tumor-A tumor that is cancerous.
Managed Care-Managed care is an approach to health care that adds the cost of services to the model. Its goal is to provide high-quality health care at a reasonable cost.
Mastectomy-An operation to remove a person's breast.
Medical Oncologist-A doctor who specializes in treating cancer with drugs (chemotherapy).
Metastasis-The spread of cancer cells from the original tumor through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to another part of the body. Metastasis also is the word used for a secondary tumor caused by this movement of cancer cells.
Monoclonal Antibodies-Substances that can locate and bind to cancer cells wherever they are in the body. They can be used alone, or they can be used as a treatment to deliver drugs, toxins, or radioactive materials directly to the tumor cells, or to help make diagnosis.
Myelosuppression-A decrease in the production of red blood cells, platelets, and some white blood cells by the bone marrow.
Needle Aspiration -Technique of removing cells by suction through a needle.
Neutropenia-A decreased number of neutrophils. A type of white blood cells.
OCN (oncology certified nurse) -A registered nurse who has met requirements and successfully completed a certified exam.
Oncogenes -Genes that, when mutated, can advance the growth of cancer. When normal, these genes play a role in regulating the growth of cells.
Oncologist-A doctor specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Oncology-The study and treatment of cancer.
Palliative Treatment-Therapy aimed at relieving symptoms, not aimed at cure.
Pathologist-Doctor who specializes in analyzing tissues, then communicating the diagnosis to the treating physician.
Peripheral Stem Cell Support-A method of replacing blood-forming cells destroyed by cancer treatment. Certain cells (stem cells) in the blood that are similar to those in bone marrow are removed from the patient's blood before treatment. The cells are given back to the patient after treatment.
Petechiae-Tiny area of bleeding under the skin, usually due to a low platelet count.
Platelet (Plt) -Cells in the blood that are responsible for clotting.
Prognosis-A prediction of what might happen in a specific case of disease.
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) -A protein produced by the prostate. Levels of PSA usually rise in men with prostate cancer. The PSA test, which measures the levels in blood serum, is used to detect prostate cancer and to monitor the results of treatment.
Protocol-A treatment plan.
Radiation Oncologist-Doctor specializing in using radiation to treat cancer.
Radiation Therapy-X-ray treatment that damages or kills cells. The dose is recorded as Grays (Gy) or as Centigrays (Cgy).
Recurrence-The return of cancer cells and signs of cancer after remission.
Red Blood Cells (erythrocytes) -Cells in the blood that brings oxygen to tissues and take carbon dioxide from them.
Regression-Growing smaller or disappearing. Used to describe shrinkage or disappearance of a cancer.
Relapse-Same as recurrence.
Remission-The disappearance of cancer symptoms; absence of evidence of cancer's existence. When this happens to a person, he or she is said to be "in remission."
Sarcoma-This is a type of cancer that starts in a bone, nerve, muscle, or blood vessel (as opposed to an organ like the liver or lung).
Second Opinion-Examination of a patient and/or patient's records by another doctor for an additional treatment recommendation.
Segmental Mastectomy (Lumpectomy) -Removal of lump and a small amount of surrounding breast tissue.
Side Effects-Problems that occur when treatment affects healthy cells. Common side effects of cancer treatment are fatigue, nausea, vomiting, decreased blood cell count, hair loss, and mouth sores.
Skin Patch-A bandage-like patch which releases medication through the skin and produces a slow, steady delivery of medication into the blood stream.
Sperm Banking-Freezing sperm before cancer treatment for use in the future. This procedure can allow men to father children after loss of fertility.
Stem Cell Transplant-See Peripheral Stem Cell.
Sterile-See infertile.
Surgical Oncologist-A doctor who specializes in cancer surgery.
Survivor (as in "cancer survivor") -Anyone who has received a cancer diagnosis, whether treatment is being received or has been completed. Just as success is a journey instead of a destination, cancer survivorship also is a journey.
Systemic-Throughout the body.
TENS unit-A machine that uses low-frequency electrical stimulation for relief or pain. "TENS" stands for "transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation."
Thrombocytopenia -An abnormally low number of platelets (thrombocytes). If the platelet number are too low, bleeding could occur.
Tissue-A group of cells.
Transdermal -Through the skin.
Tumor-Cells that group together and keep growing and crowding out normal cells. A tumor can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).
Tumor Maker-Substances found in abnormal amounts in the blood, in other body fluids, or in tumor tissue of some patients with certain types of cancer.
Ultrasound-Diagnostic imaging technique using sound waves to create an echo pattern that reveals the structure of organs and tissues.
White Blood Cells-General term for a variety of cells responsible for fighting invading germs, infection, and allergy-causing agents. Specific white blood cells include granulocytes and lymphocytes.

[ Go Up ]


This content is derived from the "Charting Your Course Seminars: A Whole Person Approach To Living With Cancer", provided by Norris Cotton Cancer Center.
Norris Cotton Cancer Center Logo