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Use this glossary to find the definition and pronunciation of medical terms relating to cancer.

Click a letter for specific alphabetic choices.



Abdomen (AB-do-men) The part of the body that contains the stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, appendix, gallbladder, and bladder.

Abscess (AB-cess) Infection which has formed a pocket of pus.

Acoustic (ah-KOOS-tik)
Related to sound or hearing

Adenocarcinoma (AD-en-o-CAR-sin-o-ma) Cancer arising in gland forming tissue. An example is breast cancer.

Adjuvant therapy (AD-joo-vant) Treatment given in addition to the primary treatment.

Adrenal gland Small gland found above each kidney which secretes cortisone, adrenaline, aldosterone, and many other important hormones.

Alopecia (al-oh-PEE-she-ah) Hair loss

Amenorrhea Absence or stoppage of menstrual period

Anaplastic (an-ah-PLAS-tik)  A term used to describe cancer cells that divide rapidly and bear little or no resemblance to normal cells

Anastomosis (an-as-to-MO-sis)  A procedure to connect healthy sections of the colon or rectum after the cancerous portion has been surgically removed.

Androgen (AN-dro-jin) A hormone that promotes the development and maintenance of mail sex characteristics.

Anemia (a-KNEE-me-ah) A condition caused by a decrease in the number of circulating red blood cells. This decrease can be a side effect of chemotherapy which depresses the bone marrow.

Anesthesia (an-es-THEE-zha) Loss of feeling resulting from the administration of drugs or gases.

Aneuploid Abnormal amount of DNA in a cell

Anorexia (an-o-REX-ee-a) A lack of appetite; no desire for food.

Antibiotics Chemicals which treat infections by stopping the growth of small disease-causing organisms.

Anticoagulant A drug that reduces the blood’s ability to clot; Heparin is an example.

Angiogram (AN-jee-o-gram) An x-ray of blood vessels. A dye is injected into an artery to outline the blood vessels on the x-ray picture. Also called an arteriogram (ar-TEER-ee-o-gram).

Antibody (an’ti-bod-ee) a protein produced by a plasma cell in the lymphatic system or bone marrow. An antibody binds to the specific antigen that has stimulated the immune system. Once bound, the antigen can be destroyed by other cells of the immune system.

Antigen (an’ti-jen) A substance, foreign to the body, that stimulates the production of antibodies by the immune system. Antigens include foreign proteins, bacteria, viruses, pollen and other materials.

Anticonvulsant (an-ti-kon-VUL-sant) Medicine to stop, prevent, or control seizures (convulsions).

Antiemetic (an-tee-eh-MET-ik) a medicine to prevent or relieve nausea or vomiting.

Areolo (a-REE-OE-la) The area of dark-colored skin that surrounds the nipple.

Anus (AY-nus) The opening of the rectum to the outside of the body.

Ascites (a-SYE-teez) Abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen.

Astrocytoma (as-tro-sy-TO-ma) A type of brain tumor

Ataxic gait (ah-TAK-sik) Awkward, uncoordinated walking.

Aspiration (as-per-AY-shun) Removal of fluid from a lump, often a cyst, with a needle.

Autologous (aw-TOL-o-gus) From the same person. An autologous blood transfusion is blood removed and then transfused back to the same person at a later date.

Atypical cell Mild to moderately abnormal cell.

Atypical hyperplasia (hy-per-PLAY-zha) A benign condition in which tissue has certain abnormal features. This condition increases the risk of cancer.

Axilla (ak-SIL-a) The underarm.

Axillary lymph node dissection Surgical removal of lymph nodes found in the armpit region.

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Barium solution (BA-ree-um) A liquid containing barium sulfate that is used in x-rays to highlight parts of the digestive system.

Benign (be-NINE) Not cancerous; does not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body.

Biological therapy (by-o-LOJ-i-kul) Treatment to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight infection and disease. Also called immunotherapy.

Biopsy (BY- op - see) Removal of a sample of tissue, which is then examined under a microscope to check for cancer cells. When the whole tumor is removed it is excisional biopsy. Removing tissue or fluid with a needle is called needle biopsy or needle aspiration.

Bladder The hollow organ that stores urine.

Blood count The amount of white cells, red cells and platelets in a sample of blood drawn from a patient’s body. An elevation or decrease in the blood count may indicate infection, anemia, or danger of excessive bleeding from cuts and injuries.

Bone marrow The soft inner part of large bones that produces blood cells.

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 (aw-TOL-o-gus) bone marrow transplantation.

Bone scan Test to determine if there is any sign of cancer in the bones.

Brachial plexus (BRAK-ee-al PLEX-us) Bundle of nerves in the armpit which go on to supply the arm.

Brachytherapy (BRAK-ee-THER-ah-pee) Treatment with radioactive sources placed into or very near the tumor; includes surface application, body cavity application (intracavitary), and placement into the tissue (interstitial). Sometimes called internal radiation therapy.

Brain stem The stemlike part of the brain that is connected to the spinal cord.

Brain stem gioma (glee-O-ma) A type of brain tumor.

Bypass An operation in which the doctor creates a new pathway for the flow of body fluids.

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Calcifications Small calcium deposits in the breast tissue that can be seen by mammography.

Cancer A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissue and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.

Carcinogen (Kar-SIN-o-jin) A substance or agent that is known to cause cancer.

Carcinoma (kar-sin-OE-ma) Cancer that begines in the lining or covering of an organ.

Carcinoma in situ (kar-sin-OE-ma in SY-too) Cancer that involves only the tissue in which it began; it has not spread to other tissues.

Cartilage (CAR-ti-lij) Firm, rubbery tissue that chusions bones at joints.

Catheter (KATH-e-ter) A thin plastic tube. When a catheter is placed in a vein, it provides a pathway for drugs, nutrients, or blood products. Blood samples also can be removed through the catheter.

When placed in a body cavity (bladder) it provides a pathway to drain fluid away from the body.

Cervical canal (SER-vi-kal) The passage in the cervix that connects the body of the uterus with the upper vagina.

CEA assay a laboratory test to measure the level of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a substance that is sometimes found in an increased amount in the blood of colorectal cancer patients.

Cell The smallest living unit. All living tissue is composed of cells.

Central nervous system The brain and the spinal cord. Also called CNS.

Cerebellum (sair-uh-BELL-um) The portion of the brain in the back of the head between the cerebrum and the brain stem.

Cerebral hemispheres (seh-REE-bral HEM-iss-feerz) The two halves of the cerebrum.

Cerebrospinal fluid (seh-REE-bro-SPY-nal) Watery fluid flowing around the brain and spinal cord. Also called CSF.

Cerebrum (seh-REE-brum) Largest part of the brain.

Cervix (SIR-viks) The lower, narrow end of the uterus.

Chemotherapy (kee-mo-THER-a-pee) Treatment with anticancer drugs.

Chondrosarcoma (KON-dro-sar-KO-ma) Cancer in cartilage.

Clinical trials Research studies that involve patients.

Cobalt 60 Radioactive substance used as a radiation source to treat cancer.

Colectomy (ko-LEK-to-mee) An operation to remove all or part of the colon. In a partial colectomy, the surgeon removes only the cancerous part of the colon and a small amount of surrounding healthy tissue.

Colon (KO-lun) The long, coiled, tubelike organ that removes water from digested food. The remaining material, solid waste called stool, moves through the colon to the rectum and leaves the body through the anus. The colon is sometimes called the large bowel or the large intestine.

Colonoscope (ko-LON-o-skope) a flexible, lighted instrument used to view the inside of the colon.Colonoscopy (ko-lun-OS-ko-pee) An examination in which the doctor looks at the colon through the colonoscope.

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-macrophyage colony-stimulating factors (GM-CSF).

Colostomy (ko-LOS-to-mee) An opening created by a surgeon into the colon from the outside of the body. A colostomy provides a new path for waste material to leave the body after part of the colon has been removed.

Colposcope (KUL-po-skope) A magnifying instrument used to examine the vagina and cervix.

Common bile duct Bile ducts are passageways that carry bile. Two major bile ducts join together to form the common bile duct, which empties into the upper part of the small intestine (the part next to the stomach.

Conization (ko-ni-ZAY-shun) The surgical removal of a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix and cervical canal. Conization may be used to diagnose or to treat a cervical condition. Also called cone biopsy.

Corpus (COR-pus) The body of the uterus.

Craniopharyngioma (KRAY-nee-oh-fah-rin-jee-O-ma) Type of brain tumor.

Craniotomy (kray-nee-OT-o-me) An operation in which an opening is made in the skull so the doctor can reach the brain.

Cryosurgery (kry-o-SIR-ja-ree) Treatment with an instrument that freezes and destroys abnormal tissues.

Cryptorchidism (kript-OR-kid-izm) A condition in which one or both testicles fail to move from the abdomen, where they develop before birth, into the scrotum; also called undescended testicles.

CT or CAT scan Detailed pictures of areas of the body created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. Also called computed tomography scan or computed axial tomography scan.

Cyst A closed sac or capsule, usually filled with fluid or semisolid material.

Cystectomy (sis-TEK-to-mee) Surgery to remove the bladder.

Cystoscope (SIS-to-skope) An instrument that allows the doctor to see inside the bladder and remove tissue samples or small tumors.

Cytotoxic (sye-to-TOX-ic) Causing the death of cells - usually refers to drugs used in chemotherapy.

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Dehydration Excessive loss of fluid from the body.

Developmental anomaly A defect which is the result of imperfect development of the embryo before birth.

Diaphanography (dy-a-fan-OG-ra-fee) An exam that involves shining a bright light through the breast to reveal features of the tissues inside. This technique is under study, its value in detecting breast cancer has not been proven. Also called transillumination.

Diaphragm (DYE-a-fram) The muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen.

Dietitian (also registered dietitian) A professional who plans diet programs for proper nutrition.

Differentiated Clearly defined. Differentiated tumor cells are similar in appearance to normal cells.

Digestive system The organs that take in food, turn it into products that the body can use, and get rid of waste. The digestive system includes the salivary glands, mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, intestines, and rectum.

Digital rectal exam An exam to detect rectal cancer. The doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum and feels for abnormal areas.

Dilation and curettage (dil-ah-TAY-shun and KYOO-re-tahzh) A minor operation in which the cervix is expanded enough to permit the cervical canal and uterine lining to be scraped with a spoon-shaped instrument called a curette. Also called a D and C.

Diploid Normal amount of DNA in a cell.

Dosimetrist (do-SIM-uh-trist) A person who plans and calculates the proper radiation dose for treatment.

Doubling time Time it takes the cell population to double in number.

Duct A tube in the breast through which body fluids pass. Cancer that begins in a duct is called ductal carcinoma.

Duodenum (doo-a-DEE-num) The first part of the small intestine.

Dysphagia (dis-FAY-jee-ah) Difficulty swallowing.

Dysplasia (dis-PLAY-zha) Abnormal cells that are not cancer.

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Edema (eh-DEE-ma) Swelling caused by a collection of fluid in the soft tissues.

Embolus Plug or clot of tumor cells within a blood vessel.

Emesis (EM-eh-sis) vomit

Encapsulated (en-KAP-soo-lay-ted) Confined to a specific area; the tumor remains in a compact form.

Endocrinologist (en-do-kri-NOL-o-jist) A doctor that specializes in diagnosing and treating hormone disorders.

Endometiosis (en-do-mee-tree-O-sis) A benign condition in which tissue that looks like endometrial tissue grows in abnormal places in the abdomen.

Endometrium (en-do-MEE-tree-um) The inner layer of the uterus.

Endoscopy (en-DOS-ko-pee) A procedure in which the doctor looks inside the body through a lighted tube called an endoscope.

Engorgement Swelling with fluid.

Enterostomal therapist (en-ter-o-STO-mul) A health care specialist trained to help patients care for and adjust to their colostomy.

Enzymes (EN-zymz) Proteins that make certain chemical reactions occur in the body. Digestive enzymes, including those produced by the pancreas, help the body break down food.

Ependymoma (eh-PEN-di-MO-ma) A type of brain tumor.

ERCP A procedure to x-ray the common bile duct. Also called endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography (en-do-SKOP-ik-RET-ro-grade ko-LAN-gee-o-PAN-kree-a-TOG-ra-fee).

Epithelial carcinoma (ep-i-THEE-lee-ul kar-si-NO-ma) Cancer that begins in the cells that line an organ.

Esophagus (esophageal) Organ carrying food from the mouth and the stomach.

Estrogen (ES-troe-jin) A female hormone.

Ewings sarcoma (YOO-ingz sar-KO-ma) a bone cancer that forms in the middle (shaft) of large bones. Most often affects the hipbones and the bones of the upper arm and thigh.

Excema (EX-eh-ma) Skin irritation characterized by redness and open weeping.

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Fallopian tubes (fa-LOPE-ee-en) The pair of tubes, one on each side of the uterus, through which an egg travels from the ovary to the uterus.

Familial polyposis (pol-i-PO-sis) An inherited condition in which several hundred polyps develop in the colon and rectum.

Fecal occult blood test (FEE-kul o-KULT) A test to check for hidden (fecal) blood (occult) in stool.

Femoral artery Major artery in the area of the groin and thigh.

Fibroid (FY-broid) A benign uterine tumor.

Fibrosarcoma (FY-bro-sar-KO-ma) A form of bone cancer that occurs mainly in middle-aged and elderly people.

Flow cytometry Test that measures DNA content in tumors.

Fluoroscopy (flor-OS-ko-pee) Use of an x-ray machine to examine parts of the body directly rather than taking a picture and developing it, as in conventional x-rays. Fluoroscopy uses more radiation than a single x-ray.

Frozen section Freezing and slicing tissue to make a slide immediately for diagnosis.

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Gallbladder A small organ that stores bile. It is located below the liver.

Gamma rays Same as x-rays but from a different radioactive source.

Gastrointestinal tract The digestive tract, where the body processes and uses food. It includes the esophagus, stomach, liver, small and large intestines, and rectum.

Gastroenterologist (GAS-tro-en-ter-OL-o-jist) A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the digestive system.

Gene therapy Treatment that alters genes (the basic units of heredity found in all cells in the body.

Genetic Relating to genes or inherited characteristics.

Germ cell tumors A type of brain tumor.

Germinoma (jer-mih-NO-ma) A type of germ cell tumor.

Gland An organ that produces and releases one or more substances.

Gliblastoma multiforme (glee-o-blas-TO-ma mul-tih-FOR-ma) A type of brain tumor.

Glioma (glee-O-ma) A name for brain tumors that begin in the glial cells, or supportive cells, in the brain. "Glia" is the Greek word for glue.

Graft Healthy skin, bone, or other tissue taken from one part of the body to replace diseased or injured tissue removed from another part of the body.

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Hemangioma A birthmark consisting of overgrowth of blood vessels.

Hematoma Collection of blood in the tissues.

Hematocrit The percentage of red blood cells.

Hemoglobin Contained in the red blood cells; responsible for carrying oxygen

Hemorrhage Loss of blood through heavy, uncontrolled bleeding

Heparin A drug which decreases the clotting tendency of blood.

Hodgkin’s Disease The most common form of lymphoma. It originates in the lymph nodes or the lymph tissues.

Hormone Chemical substance produced by glands in the body which enters the bloodstream and causes effects in other tissues.

Hormone therapy Treatment of cancer by changing hormone levels.

Hydrocephalus (hy-dro-SEF-uh-lus) The abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain.

Hyperfractionated radiation Division of the total does of radiation into smaller doses that are given more than once a day.

Hyperplasia (hy-per-PLAY-zha) Excessive growth of cells.

Hyperthermia (hy-per-THE-mee-a) Treatment that involves heating a tumor.

Hypothalamus Area at the base of the brain that controls various functions including hormone production in the pituitary.

Hysterectomy (hiss-ter-ECK-to-mee) An operation that removes the uterus and cervix. Does not necessary mean the removal of ovaries.

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I - K

Immune system Complex system by which the body is able to protect itself from foreign invaders.

Immunocytochemistry Study of the chemistry of cells using techniques that employ immune mechanisms.

Incisional biopsy Taking a piece of the lump out.

Infiltrating cancer Cancer that can grow beyond its site of origin into surrounding tissue.

Informed consent Process in which the patient is fully informed of all risks and complications of a planned procedure and agrees to proceed.

Infusaport A type of permanent catheter, round in shape, surgically inserted into a neck vein. Allows administration of IV fluids, blood products and medicines. Blood can also be drawn through it.

In situ In the site of. Refers to tumors that haven’t grown beyond their site of origin.

Intrathecal chemotherapy (intra-THEE-kal) Injection of anticancer drugs into the cerebrospinal fluid.

Intravenous (IV) Administration of a drug directly into a vein.

Invasive cancer Cancers that are capable of growing beyond their site of origin and invading surrounding tissue.

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Laparoscopy (lap-a-ROS-ko-pee) A surgical procedure in which a lighted instrument shaped like a thin tube is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen.

Laparotomy (lap-a-ROT-o-mee) An operation in which the surgeon opens the abdomen

Laser A powerful beam of light that can develop intense heat when focused at close range, sometimes used in surgery.

Leukemia A type of cancer that originates in the blood-forming tissues of the bone marrow, lymph nodes and spleen.

Lidocaine Drug most commonly used for local anesthesia.

Linear accelerator A machine that creates high-energy radiation to treat cancers, using electricity to form a stream of fast-moving subatomic particles. Also called megavoltage (MeV) linear accelerator or a linac.

Local treatment of cancer Treatment of the tumor only.

Lumpectomy (lum-PEC-to-mee) Surgery to remove a lump and a small margin of normal tissue surrounding it.

Lymph (limf) The almost colorless fluid that bathes body cells and contains cells that help fight infection.

Lymph nodes Small bean-shaped structures scattered throughout the body along the channels of the lymphatic system; also called lymph glands. Nodes filter bacteria or cancer cells that may travel through the lymphatic system.

Lymphatic system (lim-FAT-ik) The lymph nodes, spleen, and thymus — which produce and store infection-fighting cells — and the network of channels that carry lymph fluid.

Lymphedema (Lim-fa-DEE-ma)Swelling of the arm that can follow surgery to the lymph nodes under the arm. Also called Milk Arm.

Lymphangiography (limf-an-jee-OG-ra-fee) X-ray study of lymph nodes and lymph vessels made visible by the injection of a special dye.

Lymphocytes White blood cells critical to the immune system’s defense against disease organisms in the body, including cancer cells.

Lymphoma A cancer that originates in the body’s lymphatic tissues, primarily the lymph nodes or the lymph tissue of such organs as the stomach, small intestine or bone.

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Malignant Cancerous.

Malignant giant cell tumor A type of bone tumor.

Mammogram (MAM-o-gram) An x-ray of the breast.

Mastectomy (Mas-TEK-to-mee) Surgery to remove the breast.

Melanoma Cancer of the cells that produce pigment in the skin. Usually begins in a mole.

Metastasis (me-TAS-ta-sis) Spread of cancer to another organ, usually through the bloodstream.

Monoclonal antibodies Substances that can locate and bind to cancer cells wherever they are in the body. Can be used alone or used to deliver drugs, toxins, or radioactive material directly to the tumor cells.

MRI A procedure using a magnet linked to a computer to create pictures of areas inside the body. Also called magnetic resonance imaging.

Mucous membranes Tissues lining such organs as the mouth and intestine. The mucous membranes keep the organs moist by secreting juices.

Multimodality therapy The combined use of more than one method of treatment, eg, surgery and chemotherapy.

Myelin (MY-eh-lin) Fatty substance that covers and protects nerves.

Myelogram (MY-eh-lo-gram) An x-ray of the spinal cord and bones of the spine.

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Nadir Period of time following chemotherapy treatment when blood counts generally are at their lowest levels and patients are at greatest risk of developing infection and other blood-related side effects.

Nausea The feeling that one might vomit.

Necrosis (nee-CRO-sis) Dead tissue.

Nephro-tomography (NEF-ro to-MOG-ra-fee) Diagnostic procedure using x-rays in which a three-dimensional view of the kidney can be constructed.

Neutropenia Less than the normal number of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, which help to defend against bacterial infections.

Nodular (NOD-u-lar) Forming little nodules.

Nonseminoma (non-sem-i-NO-ma) A classification of testicular cancers that arise in specialized sex cells called germ cells. Nonseminomas include embryonal carcinoma, teratoma, chorio-carcinoma, and yolk sac tumor.

Nuclear scans Pictures of the inside of the body taken after slightly radioactive material is swallowed or injected into the bloodstream.

Neurologist (new-ROL-o-jist) Doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the nervous system.

Neuroma (new-RO-ma) A tumor that arises in nerve cells.

Neurosurgeon (NEW-ro-SER-jun) Doctor who specializes in surgery on the brain and other parts of the nervous system.

Nitrosoureas (ny-TRO-so-yur-EE-ahz) Group of anticancer drugs that can cross the blood-brain barrier. Carmustine (BCNU) and lomustine (CCNU) are nitrosoureas.

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Omaya reservoir A device which is surgically inserted under the scalp for direct injection of chemotherapy throughout the spinal fluid. Drugs can be administered into the reservoir, rather than through the back during a spinal tap.

Oncology The branch of medicine that studies cancer or malignant diseases. An Oncologist is a doctor who treats cancer.

Oligodendroglioma (OL-i-go-den-dro-glee-O-ma) A type of brain tumor.

Oophorectomy (oo-for-REC-to-mee) Removal of the ovaries.

Ophthalmoscope (off-THAL-mo-skope) A lighted instrument used to examine the inside of the eye, including the retina and the optic nerve.

Optic nerve The nerve that carries messages from the retina to the brain.

Orchiectomy (or-kee-EK-to-mee) surgical removal of testicles.

Osteosarcoma (OSS-tee-o-sar-KO-ma) Cancer of the bone that is most common in children. Also called osteogenic sarcoma.

Ostomy (OS-to-mee) Operation to create an opening from an area inside the body to the outside. See colostomy.

Ovaries (O-var-eez) The pair of female reproductive organs that produces eggs (ova) and hormones. They are located in the lower abdomen, one on each side of the uterus.

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PTC A test sometimes used to help diagnose cancer of the pancreas. A thin needle is put into the liver. Dye is injected into the bile ducts so blockages can be seen on x-rays.

Palliative therapy (PAL-ee-a-tiv) A treatment that may relieve symptoms without curing the disease.

Palpation (pal-PAY-shun) A simple technique in which a doctor presses on the surface of the body to feel the organs or tissues underneath.

Pancreas A gland located in the abdomen. It makes pancreatic juices and produces several hormones including insulin.

Pancreatectomy (pan-kree-a-TEK-to-mee) Surgery to remove the pancreas. In a total pancreatectomy, the duodenum, common bile duct, gallbladder, spleen, and nearby lymph nodes are also removed.

Papillary tumor (PAP-i-lary) A tumor shaped like a small mushroom with its stem attached to the inner lining of the bladder.

Pap test Microscopic examination of cells collected from the cervix.

Pathologist (path-OL-o-jist) Doctor who identifies diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope.

Peripheral stem cell support A method for replacing bone marrow destroyed by cancer treatment. Certain 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 after treatment to help the bone marrow recover.

Permanent section Thin slices of biopsy tissue that are mounted on slides and looked at under a microscope. A permanent section takes several days to prepare. It tells doctors if the tissue is cancer, the type of cancer it is, and other information that helps to plan treatment.

Petechiae Small hemorrhages of the tiny blood vessels found just below the skin surface. They often result from a low platelet count and always disappear when the platelet count rises again.

Pineal region tumors Types of brain tumors.

Pineoblastoma (PIN-ee-o-blas-TO-ma) A type of brain tumor.

Phlebitis (fleb-EYE-tis) Irritation of a vein.

Pituitary gland (pi-TOO-i-tare-ee) The main endocrine gland. It produces hormones that control other glands and many body functions.

Platelets Blood cells which seal off injuries and prevent excessive bleeding without clotting.

Polyp (POL-ip) A mass of tissue that develops on the inside wall of a hollow organ such as the colon.

Primitive neuroectodermal tumors (NEW-ro-ek-to-DER-mul) A type of brain tumor.

Prognosis Expected or probable outcome

Prostate gland (PROSS-tate) A gland in the male reproductive system just below the bladder. It surrounds part of the urethra, the canal that empties the bladder.

Prosthesis (pros-THEE-sis) An artificial replacement for a missing body part.

Proto-oncogene (pro-to ON-co-gene) Normal gene controlling cell growth.

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Q - R

Quadrantectomy (qwad-ran-TEK-to-mee) Removal of a quarter of the breast.

Rad Radiation-absorbed dose; same as centigray. One chest x-ray equals 1/10 of a rad.

Radiation Energy carried by waves or a stream of particles.

Radical nephrectomy Surgical removal of the kidney, large portions of the surrounding tissue and neighboring lymph nodes.

Radio-isotope bone scan Diagnostic procedure in which a harmless amount of radioactive chemical is injected into the bloodstream and concentrates in cancer cells. A scanning device is passed over the body and senses any radioactivity and makes a picture of its location in the body.

Radiologist A physician with special training in reading diagnostic x-rays and performing specialized x-ray procedures.

Randomized Chosen at random. In a research study it means choosing subjects to be given a particular treatment by means of a computer programmed to choose names at random.

Rectum The last 5 top 6 inches of the colon leading to the outside of the body.

Red cells Produced by bone marrow, they circulate in the blood and carry oxygen to all parts of the body.

Recurrence Return of cancer after its apparent complete disappearance.

Remission Disappearance of detectable disease.

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Salpingo-oophorectomy (sal-PING-o oo-for-EK-to-mee) Surgical removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries.

Sarcoma (sar-KOM-a) Cancer arising in the connective tissue.

Schwannoma (shwah-NO-mah) A type of brain cancer.

Schiller test Diagnostic test in which iodine is applied to the cervical cells. Healthy cells are stained; abnormal cells are not.

Screening Checking for disease when there are no symptoms

Scrotum (SKRO-tum) The pouch of skin that contains the testicles.

Selective renal arteriography (ar-ter-ee-OG-ra-fee) Diagnostic method using x-rays and a special chemical to obtain a picture of the kidney blood vessels.

Seminoma (sem-in-O-ma) A type of testicular cancer that arises from sex cells, or germ cells, at a very early stage in their development.

Seroma Collection of tissue fluid

Shunt A catheter (tube) that carries fluid from one place in the body to another,

Sigmoidoscope (sig-MOY-do-skope) A lighted instrument used to view the inside of the lower colon.

Sigmoidoscopy (sig-moy-DOS-ko-pee) An examination of the rectum and lower colon using a sigmoidoscope. Also called proctosigmoidoscopy or "procto".

Simulation (relating to radiation) A process involving special x-ray pictures that are used to plan radiation treatment so that the area to be treated is precisely located and marked for treatment.

Speculum (SPEK-yoo-lum) An instrument used to widen the opening of the vagina so that the cervix is seen more easily.

Sperm banking Freezing sperm before cancer treatment for use in the future. This procedure can allow men to father children after loss of fertility.

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

S-phase fraction Measure of number of cells dividing at any one time

Seminal vesicles (SEM-in-al VESS-i-kulz) Glands that help produce semen.

Small intestine The part of the digestive tract that extends from the stomach to the large intestine.

Soft Tissue Sarcoma A sarcoma that begins in the muscle, fat, fibrous tissue, blood vessels, or other supporting tissue of the body. Not a type of bone cancer.

Stereotaxis (stair-ee-o-TAK-sis) Use of a computer and scanning devices to create three-dimensional pictures. This method can be used to direct a biopsy, external radiation, or the insertion of radiation implants.

Steroids Drugs used to relieve swelling and inflammation

Stoma An opening in the abdominal wall; also called an ostomy.

Stomatitis Mouth sores

Stool The solid matter discharged in a bowel movement.

Subcutaneous tissue The tissue under the skin

Systemic treatment Treatment involving the whole body, usually using drugs

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

Therapeutic Pertaining to treatment.

Thermography (ther-MOG-ra-fee) Test to measure and display heat patterns of tissues near the surface of the skin. Abnormal tissue generally is warmer than healthy tissue.

Thoracic Concerning the chest

Thoracoepigastric vein Vein that starts under the arm and passes along the side of the breast and then down into the abdomen.

Thrombocytopenia Decreased number of platelets circulating in the blood. The decrease can be a side effect of chemotherapy.

Thrombophlebitis (throm-boe-fleh-BY-tis) Inflammation of a vein that occurs when a blood clot forms.

Titration (in chemotherapy) Using the largest amount of drug possible while keeping side effects from becoming intolerable.

Trauma Wound or injury

Treatment port The place on the body at which the radiation beam is aimed.

Transurethral resection (TRANZ-yu-REE-thral ree-SEK-shun) Surgery performed with a special instrument inserted through the urethra. Also called TUR.

Transvaginal ultrasound Sound waves sent out by a probe inserted in the vagina. The waves bounce off the ovaries, and a computer uses the echoes to create a picture called a sonogram. Also called TVS

Tumor An abnormal mass of tissue. Tumors are either benign (non cancerous) or malignant (cancerous)

Tumor debulking Surgically removing as much of the tumor as possible.

Tumor marker A substance detectable in the blood or urine that suggests the presence of cancer.

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U - Z

Ultrasound Diagnostic procedure that bounces high-frequency sound waves off tissues and changes the echoes into pictures.

Ultraviolet radiation Invisible rays that are part of the sun’s energy. Also called UV. UV can burn the skin and cause skin cancer.

Upper GI series X-rays of the upper digestive system that are taken after a person drinks a barium solution, which outlines the digestive organs on the x-rays.

Urea Main waste material in urine.

Ureters (YUR-a-terz) Tubes that carry urine from each kidney to the bladder.

Urethra (yur-EE-thra) Tube that empties urine from the bladder.

Urologist (yur-OL-o-jist) Doctor who specializes in diseases of the urinary organs in females and the urinary and sex organs in males.

Vagina (va-JYE-na) The muscular canal extending from the cervix to the outside of the body.

Vein A blood vessel which carries blood from the tissues toward the heart and lungs.

Venacavography Diagnostic method using x-rays to obtain a picture of the major vein that collects blood coming out of the kidney.

Ventricles (VEN-trih-kulz) Four connected cavities in the brain.

Viruses Tiny parasites that cause infectious disease. They can only divide and multiply in living cells.

Whipple procedure Surgery used to treat pancreatic cancer. The surgeon removes the head of the pancreas, the duodenum, a portion of the stomach, and other nearby tissues.

White blood cells Cells produced by the bone marrow and lymph nodes. They help the body fight infection.

X-ray High-energy radiation used in low doses to diagnose diseases and in high doses to treat cancers.

Xeroradiograph (ZEE-roe-ray-dee-OG-ra-fee) Type of mammography in which a picture of the breast is recorded on paper rather than on film.

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