Glossary of Terms
Click one of the alphabetical links below to get information on a particular terminology.
• Ablative Therapy
Treatment that removes or destroys the function of an organ.
• Adenocarcinoma
Cancer that starts in the glandular tissue, such as in the ducts or lobules of the breast.
• Adenoma
A benign growth starting in the glandular tissue.
• Adjuvant Therapy
Treatment used in addition to the main treatment. It usually refers to hormonal therapy,
chemotherapy, or radiation added after surgery to increase the chances of curing the
disease or keeping it in check.
• Adrenal Gland
One 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 and progesterone).
• Alopecia
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.
• Alveoli
Air cells of the lungs.
• Androgen
A male sex hormone. Androgens may be used to treat recurrent breast cancer. Their
effect is to block the activity of estrogen, thereby slowing growth of the cancer.
• Androgen Blocker
Use of drugs to disrupt the actions of male hormones.
• Anemia
Low red blood cell count.
• Anesthesia
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.
• Aneuploid
See ploidy.
• Angiogenesis
The formation of new blood vessels. Some cancer treatments work by blocking
angiogenesis, thus preventing blood from reaching the tumor.
• Antibiotic
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
• Antibody
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.
• Antiemetic
A drug that prevents or relieves nausea and vomiting, common side effects of
• Anti-Estrogen
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
• Antigen
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.
• Antimetabolites
Substances that interfere with the body's chemical processes, Such as those creating
proteins, DNA, and other chemicals needed for cell growth a and Reproduction. In
treating cancer, antimetabolite drugs disrupt DNA production, which in turn prevents cell
division and growth of tumors. (See also DNA.)
• Aspirate
To draw in or out by suction. (See needle aspiration.)
• Asymptomatic
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.)
• Atypical
Not usual abnormal. Often refers to the appearance of cancerous or precancerous cells
Autologous bone marrow transplantation. (See bone marrow transplantation.)
• Axilla
The armpit.
• Axillary dissection
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 Inserted to cause the
colon to expand. This allows good x-ray films to be taken.
• Basal Cell Carcinoma
The most common non-melanoma ask in 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.
• Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or 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 mass of tissue that is not cancerous that will not invade nearby tissue or
spread to other parts of the body (compare malignant tumour).
• Bilateral
On both sides of the body; for example, bilateral breast cancer is cancer in both breasts.
• Biologic Response Modifiers (BRM's)
Substances that boost the body's immune system to fight against cancer; interferon is
one example 2E Also called biologic therapy.
• Biological Therapy
Biological therapy employs Biological Response Modifiers (BRM's), which are
substances that use the body's own immune system, either directly or indirectly, to fight
cancer or to lessen the side effects of the anti cancer drugs. Some examples of BRM's
are interferon-alfa and interleukin-2.
• Biopsy
A procedure in which a small piece of representative tissue is taken from a lesion which
the doctor finds suspiceous, and i sent for histopathological examination i.e.
examination under a microscope. This is known as tissue diagnosis and is the only way
that confirmatory proof for cancer is obtained.
• Blood Count
A count of the number of red blood cells and white blood cells in a given sample of blood.
• Bone Marrow Biopsy
A biopsy of the bone marrow, which is the soft inner portion of the bone actively involved
in the production of various types of blood cell lines. It is usually performed on the breast
bone or the hip bones.
• Bone Marrow Transplantation
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 has an allogeneic

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 in formation 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.
• Brachytherapy
Internal radiation treatment given by placing radioactive material directly into the tumor or
close to it. Having this treatment does not make a per son 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.
A gene which, when damaged (mutated), places a woman at greater risk of developing
breast and/or ovarian cancer, compared with women who do not have the mutation. In a
woman with a BRCA1 mutation, the estimated lifetime risk of developing Breast cancer is
about 50% compared with 12% in the general population. A person who has this mutated
gene has a 50% chance of passing on the gene to each of her children. There is a
genetic test for this gene, but it is recommended only for women who are known to be at
risk because several women in their family have had breast or ovarian cancer at an early
age (before menopause).
A gene which, when damaged or mutated, puts the woman at a much higher risk for
developing breast cancer and/or ovarian cancer than the general population. In a woman
with a BRCA2 mutation, the estimated lifetime risk of developing breast Cancer is 50% -
60%. BRCA 2 and BRCA1 together account for about 80% of The breast cancer that
occurs in women with strong family histories of the disease. BRCA2 Is also thought to
raise the risk for breast cancer in men. There is a genetic test for BRCA2 but it is only
recommended for those with strong family histories of breast or Ovarian cancer.
• Breast Conservation Therapy
Surgery to remove a breast cancer and a small area of Normal tissue around the cancer
without removing any other part of the breast. The lymph Nodes under the arm may be
removed, and radiation therapy is also often given after the Surgery. This method is also
called lumpectomy, segmental excision, limited breast surgery, or tylectomy.
• Breast Implant
A sac used to increase breast size or restore the contour of a breast After mastectomy.
The sac is filled with silicone gel (a synthetic material) or sterile Saltwater (saline).
Because of concern about possible (but as yet unproven) side Effects of silicone,
these implants are now available only to women who agree to take Part in a study
(clinical trial) in which side effects are carefully followed.
• Breast Reconstruction
Surgery that rebuilds the breast contour after mastectomy. A breast implant or the
woman's own tissue is used. If desired, the nipple and Areola may also be re-created.
Reconstruction can be done at the time of mastectomy or any time later.
• Breast self-exam (BSE)
A method of checking one's own breasts for lumps or Suspicious changes. BSE is
recommended for all women over age 20, to be done once a Month, usually at a
time other than the days before, during, or immediately after her Menstrual period.
• Bronchi
In the lungs, the two main air passages leading from the windpipe (Trachea). The
bronchi provide a passage for air to move in and out of the lungs.
• Bronchiole
One of the smaller sub-divisions of the bronchi.
• Bronchoscopy
Examination of the bronchi using a flexible, lighted tube called a bronchoscope.
• Cancer
Cancer is not just one disease but rather a group of diseases. All forms of Cancer cause
cells in the body to change and grow out of control. Most types of cancer cells form a
lump or mass called a tumor. The tumor can invade and destroy healthy Tissue. Cells
from the tumor can break away and travel to other parts of the body. There they can
continue to grow. This spreading process is called metastasis. When Cancer spreads, it
is still named after the part o f the body where it started. For example, if Breast cancer
spreads to the lungs, it is still breast cancer, not lung cancer.

Some cancers, such as blood cancers, do not form a tumor. Not all tumors are cancer. A
Tumor that is not cancer is called benign. Benign tumors do not grow and spread the
Way cancer does. They are usually not a threat to life. Another word for cancerous is

• Carcinogen
A cancer producing substance.
• Carcinoma
A cancer originating in the lining tissues of an organ.
• Carcinoma in Situ
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.
• Catheter
A thin, flexible tube through which fluids enter or leave the body.
• CEA (Carcinoembryonic antigen)
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.
• Cell
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.
• Cervix
The neck of the womb (uterus).
• Chemotherapy
A treatment in which drugs are given by mouth or by injection. Usually, these are anti
cancer drugs.
• Chemo prevention
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.
• Clinical trials
Research studies to test new drugs or other treatments to compare current, standard
treatments with others that may be better. Before a new treatment is used on people, it is
studied in the lab. If lab studies suggest the treatment will work, the next step is to test its
value for patients. These human studies are called clinical trials.

The main questions the researchers want to answer are:

  • Does this treatment work?
  • Does it work better than the one we're now using?
  • What side effects does it cause?
  • Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
  • Which patients are most likely to find this treatment helpful?
During the course of treatment, the doctor may suggest looking into a clinical trial. This
Does not mean that the patient is being asked to be as a human "guinea pig." A clinical
trial is done only when there is some reason to believe that the treatment being studied
may be of value. Nor does it mean that the case is hopeless and the doctor is suggesting
a last-ditch effort.

Clinical trials are carried out in steps called phases. Each phase is designed to answer
certain questions.

• Colon
The large intestine, part of the digestive tract. The colon is a muscular tube about 5 feet
• Colonoscopy
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.
• Colostomy
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.
• Cryosurgery
Use of probes to flash-freeze and kill diseased tissue. Sometimes used to treat prostate
or other cancers.
• CT Scan (computer assisted tomography, also known as a CT scan)
A special X-ray technique, in which multiple X-rays are taken in very thin slices, which are
then integrated by a computer to give a comprehensive picture of an organ, a mass or
even of the entire body.
• Cyst
A fluid-filled mass that is usually benign. The fluid can be removed for analysis.
• Cystoscopy
Examination of the bladder with an instrument called a cystoscope.
• Cytokine
A product of cells of the immune system that may stimulate immunity and cause the
regression of some cancers.
• Cytology
The branch of science that deals with the structure and function of cells.
• Cytotoxic
Toxic to cells.
• D & C (Dilatation and Curettage)
A test in which the cervix is opened slightly so that a sample of tissue from the lining of
the uterus can be removed and studied.
• Diagnosis
Identifying 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.
• Differentiation
The normal process through which cells mature so they can carry out the jobs they were
meant to do.
Abbreviation for Deoxyribonucleic acid. DNA holds genetic information on cell growth,
division, and function.
Stands for Digital Rectal Exam. The doctor inserts 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.
• Ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS
Cancer cells that start in the milk passages (ducts) But have not penetrated the duct
walls into the surrounding tissue. This is a highly curable form of breast cancer that is
treated with surgery, or surgery plus radiation therapy. Also called intraductal carcinoma.
• Duct ectasia
Widening of the ducts of the breast, often related to breast inflammation called periductal
mastitis. Duct ectasia is a benign (not cancerous) condition.
Symptoms of this condition are a nipple discharge, swelling, retraction of the nipple, or a lump that can be felt.
• Dysphagia
Having trouble swallowing or eating.
• Dysplasia
Abnormal development of tissue.
• Edema
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. (See also
• Electrofulguration
A type of treatment that destroys cancer cells by burning with an electrical current.
• Emesis
• Endocrine glands
Glands that release hormones into the bloodstream. The ovaries are one type of
endocrine gland.
• Endocrine Therapy
Manipulation of hormones in order to treat a disease or Condition. (See also hormone
• Endometrium
The lining of the womb (uterus).
• Endoscopy
Inspection of body organs or cavities using a flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope.
• Epidemiology
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.
• Esophageal speech
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.
• Estrogen
A female sex hormone produced primarily by the ovaries, and in smaller Amounts by the
adrenal cortex. In women, levels of estrogen fluctuate on nature's carefully orchestrated
schedule, regulating the development of secondary sex characteristics, including
breasts; regulating the monthly cycle of menstruation; and preparing the body for
fertilization and reproduction. In breast cancer, estrogen may promote the growth of
cancer cells.
• Estrogen receptor assay
The estrogen receptor assay is a laboratory test done on a sample of the cancer in order
to see whether estrogen receptors are present. The growth of normal breast cells and
some breast cancers is stimulated by estrogen. Estrogen Receptors are molecules that
function as cells' "welcome mat" for estrogen circulating in the blood. Breast cancer cells
without these receptors (called estrogen receptor Negative or ER negative) are unlikely
to respond to hormonal therapy. ER positive Cancers are more likely to respond to
hormonal therapy.
• Etiology
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.
• Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
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
• Fascia
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
• Fibrosis
Formation of scar-like (fibrous) tissue. This can occur anywhere in the body.
• Fine Needle Aspiration
See needle aspiration.
• Five-year survival rate
The percentage of people with a given cancer who are expected to survive five years or
longer with the disease.
• 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.
• Gene
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.
• Genetic testing
Tests 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.
• 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.
• GI tract (Gastrointestinal 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.
• Glands
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.
•  Grade
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
A 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 chemotherapy.
• Hematologist
A doctor who specializes in finding and treating conditions that arise in the blood and
blood-forming tissues, including bone marrow.
• Hereditary cancer syndrome
Conditions 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.
• Hormone
A 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 Receptor Assay
A test to see whether a breast tumor is likely to be affected by hormones or if it can be
treated with hormones.
• Hormone Therapy
Treatment 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.
• Hormone Replacement Therapy
The use of estrogen and progesterone from an outside source after the body has
stopped making it because of natural or induced menopause. This type of hormone
therapy is often given to relieve symptoms of menopause and has been shown to offer
protection against heart disease and thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) in women
after Menopause. Since estrogen nourishes some types of breast cancer, scientists are
working on the question of whether estrogen replacement therapy increases breast
cancer risk.
• Hyperplasia
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
Treatment of disease by raising body temperature.
• Hysterectomy
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.
• Ileostomy
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.
• Immune system
The 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.
• Immunology
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.
• Immunosuppression
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 transplantation.
• Immunotherapy
Treatments that promote or support the body’s immune system response to a disease
such as cancer.
• Implant
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 implant.
• Impotence
Not being able to have or keep an erection of the penis.
• Incontinence
Loss of urinary control.
• 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.
• Interferon
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 cancer.
• In situ
In place; localized and confined to one area. A very early stage of cancer.
• Interstitial radiation therapy
A type of treatment in which a radioactive implant is placed directly into the tissue (not in a body cavity).
• Invasive cancer
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.
• IVU (Intravenous Urogram)
Intravenous urogram - a special kind of x-ray procedure. A dye is injected into the
bloodstream. It travels to the kidneys, ureters and bladder and helps to clearly outline
these organs on the x-rays.
• No information of the existence of any form of terminology in this category.
• No information of the existence of any form of terminology in this category.
• Laryngectomy
Surgery to remove the voice box (larynx), usually because of cancer.
• Lesion
A change in body tissue; sometimes used as another word for tumor.
• Leukemia
Cancer of the blood or blood-forming organs. People with leukemia often have a
noticeable increase in white blood cells (leukocytes).
• Leukopenia
Decrease in the while blood cell count, often a side effect of chemotherapy.
• Leukoplakia
Formation of white patches on the tongue or cheek. These are often premalignant.
• LHRH analogs
Stands 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
• Lobectomy
Surgery to remove a lobe of an organ - usually the lung.
• Lobules
The glands in a woman’s breasts that produce milk.
• 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.
• Lumbar Puncture
A procedure in which a needle is inserted in the space surrounding the spinal cord, and
a small amount of the fluid surrounding the spinal cord, called the cerebropinal fluid
, is aspirated for diagnosis of cancer. The needle is usually inserted in the region of
the lower backbone.

Lumbar Puncture or LP as it is commonly known as may also be used to introduce
anticancer drugs into the CSF.

• Lump
Any kind of mass in the breast or elsewhere in the body.
• Lumpectomy
Surgery to remove the breast tumor and a small amount of surrounding normal tissue.
• Lymph
A clear fluid which courses through transparent tubings throughout the body and carries
infection fighting cells called Lymphocytes.
• Lymphoma
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
• Lymphocytes
A type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infection.
• Lymphoedema
A complication that sometimes happens after breast cancer treatments. Swelling in the
arm is caused by excess lymph fluid that collects after lymph nodes and vessels are
removed by surgery or treated by radiation. This condition can be persistent but not
• Lymph Nodes
Small, bean shaped structures that act as junctions for Lymph channels or Lymphatics,
which are thin transparent tubings carrying Lymph.

Lymph nodes are arranged either in isolation or in groups in the neck, under arms,
abdomen and groin. They act as stations where cancer cells can go and lodge.

• Lymphatic system
The lymph nodes, lymphatic channels, lymph and other organs such as the spleen and
the thymus form the lymphatic system or the reticulo-endothelial system. It is a system
involved in the fighting of infections and providing immunity or resistance to disease.

The lymphomas are cancers originating from the lymphatic system.

• Malignant tumor
An cancerous mass of tissue grows and divides without control, and invades adjacent
tissues. It can spread throughout the body via the bloodstream and lymphatic system, by
a process known as metastasis.
• Mammogram, Mammography
An x-ray of the breast; the method of finding breast cancer that can't be felt. Mammograms
are done with a special type of x-ray machine used only for this purpose. A mammogram
can show a developing breast tumor before it is large enough to be felt by a woman or
even by a highly skilled health care professional. Screening mammography is used to
help find breast cancer early in women without any symptoms. Diagnostic
mammography helps the doctor learn more about breast masses or the cause of other
breast symptoms.
• Margin
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
• Mastectomy
Surgery to remove all or part of the breast and sometimes other tissue.

Modified radical mastectomy removes the breast, skin, nipple, areola, and most of the
axillary lymph nodes on the same side, leaving the chest muscles intact.

• Mediastinoscopy
A procedure in which a self illuminating, metallic tube is inserted into the chest, so that a
doctor can view the organs in the mediastinum, the area between the lungs (including
the heart and its great veins and arteries, the trachea (the wind pipe), the esophagus
(the food pipe) , the bronchi (the smaller branching airways arising from the trachea) and
lymph nodes). An incision or cut is made at the base of the neck above the breastbone to
insert the tube.

Metabolism. The process by which food is transformed into living matter or used to
supply energy in the body.

• 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.
• Melanoma
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.
• Metastasis
The spread of cancer cells to distant areas of the body by way of the lymph system or
• Micrometastases
The spread of cancer cells in groups so small that they can only be seen under a
• Monoclonal antibodies
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.
• Morbidity
A measure of the new cases of a disease in a population; the number of people who
have a disease.
• Mortality
A measure of the rate of death from a disease within a given population.
• MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
An imaging process used for diagnosis of a cancer or to measure the size of the cancer
and the extent of its spread. It uses a special, powerful magnet to create images of the
body which are then integrated, interpreted and changed to a recognizable, high
resolution image by a computer.
• Mucinous carcinoma
A type of carcinoma that is formed by mucus-producing cancer cells.
• Mucositis
Inflammation of a mucous membrane such as the lining of the mouth.
• Mutation
A change in a gene.
• Neoplasm
An abnormal growth (tumor) that starts from a single altered cell; a neoplasm may be
benign or malignant. Cancer is a malignant neoplasm.
• Nipple discharge
Any fluid coming from the nipple. It may be clear, milky, bloody, tan, gray, or green.
• Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
A cancer of the lymphatic sys tem. 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.
• Oncogene
A type of gene. Normally inactive, when these genes are "turned on" (activated), they
cause normal cells to change into cancer cells.
• Oncologist
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.
• Oncology
The branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
• Oophorectomy
Surgery to remove the ovaries.
• Orchiectomy
Surgery to remove the testicles; castration.
• Ostomy
A general term meaning an opening, especially one made by surgery. (See also
colostomy, ileostomy, urostomy and tracheostomy.)
• Outpatient
A patient who is examined or treated without admitting him in a hospital.
• Ovary
Reproductive organ in the female pelvis. Normally a woman has two ovaries. They
contain the eggs (ova) that, when joined with sperm, result in pregnancy. Ovaries are
also the primary source of estrogen. (See also estrogen.)
• Paget’s disease of the nipple
A rare form of breast cancer that begins in the milk passages (ducts) and spreads to the
skin of the nipple and areola. This affected skin may appear crusted, scaly, red, or oozing.
The prognosis is generally better if these nipple changes are the only sign of breast
disease and no lump can be felt.
• Palliative care
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.
• Palpation
Using the hands to ex amine. A palpable mass is one that can be felt.
• Pancreatectomy
Surgery to remove the pancreas.
• Pap test
This test involves scraping some cells from a woman's cervix and looking at them under
a microscope to see if abnormal cells are present. Also called a Pap smear.
• Pathologist
A doctor who specializes in diagnosis and classification of diseases by laboratory tests.
The pathologist determines whether a lump is benign or cancerous.
• Pelvic exenteration
Surgery to remove the organs found in the pelvis.
• Placebo
An inert, inactive substance that may be used in studies (clinical trials) to compare the
effects of a given treatment with no treatment.
• Platelet
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
• Pleura
The membrane around the lungs and lining of the chest cavity.
• Ploidy
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.
• Pnuemonectomy
Surgery to remove a lung.
• Polypectomy
Surgery to remove a polyp.
• Polyps
A growth from a mucous membrane commonly found in organs such as the rectum, the
uterus, and the nose.
(Prostate 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.
• Precancerous
Changes in cells that may, but do not always, become cancer. Also called premalignant.
• Prevalence
A measure of the proportion of persons in the population with a certain disease at a given
• 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 lungs.
• Progesterone
A female sex hormone released by the ovaries during every menstrual cycle to prepare
the uterus for pregnancy and the breasts for milk production (lactation).
• Progesterone receptor assay
A laboratory test done o n a sample of the breast cancer that shows whether the cancer
depends on progesterone for growth. Progesterone and estrogen receptor tests provide
more complete information to help in deciding the best cancer treatment for the patient.
• Prognosis
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.
• Prostate
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.
• Prosthesis (pros-thee-sis)
An artificial form to replace a part of the body, such as a breast prosthesis.
• Protocol
A formal outline or plan, such as a description of what treatments a patient will
receive and exactly when each should be given.
• No information of the existence of any form of terminology in this category.
• Radiation oncologist
A doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer.
• Radiation Therapy or Radiotherapy
This involves the use of high energy, penetrative rays to destroy cancer cells. It also
affects cancer cells only in the zone treated. Radiation therapy is also employed for
palliation i.e. control of symptoms alone in an advanced cancer.

Radiation therapy can also be used in adjunct to surgery or chemotherapy, either before
or after.

• Radiation therapist
A person with special training who runs the equipment that delivers the radiation.
• Radical prostatectomy
Surgery to remove the entire prostate gland, the seminal vesicles and nearby tissue.
• Radioisotope
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.
• Radiologist
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.
• Recurrence
Cancer 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
Blood cells that contain hemoglobin, the substance that carries oxygen to other tissues of
the body.
• Regimen
A strict, regulated plan (such as diet, exercise, or other activity) designed to reach certain
goals. In cancer treatment, a plan to treat cancer.
• Rehabilitation
Activities 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 support.
• Relapse
Reappearance of cancer after a disease-free period. See recurrence.
• Remission
Complete 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.
• Resection
Surgery to remove part or all of an organ or other structure.
• Risk factor
Anything 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.
• Sarcoma
A malignant tumor growing from connective tissues, such as cartilage, fat, muscle, or
• Scan
A study using either x-rays or radioactive isotopes to produce images of internal body
• Screening
The 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 sp read (metastasis) of cancer from the place where it
• Side effects
Effects of treatment (other than the effects on the cancer) such as hair loss caused by
chemotherapy, and fatigue caused by radiation therapy.
• Sigmoidoscopy
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.
• Sputum Cytology
A diagnostic test in which sputumor mucus coughed up from the lungs or airways is
examined under a microscope to obtain a tissue diagnosis of cancer cells. Usually,
samples are taken early in the morning on three consecutive days.
• Squamous cell carcinoma
Cancer that begins in the non-glandular cells, for example, the skin.
• Staging
The 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.
• Stem Cell and Stem Cell Transplant
A 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.
• Stenosis
A narrowing (stricture) of a duct or canal.
• Stereotactic needle biopsy
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.
• Steroids
Certain hormones, either natural or synthetic (artificially manufactured). Synthetic
steroids are often given to cancer patients to combat nausea caused by many
chemotherapy drugs.
• Stoma
An opening, especially an opening made by surgery to allow elimination of body waste.
(See also colostomy, ileostomy , urostomy.)
• Stomatitis
Inflammation or ulcers of mouth area. Stomatitis can be a side effect of some kinds of
chemo therapy.
• Survival rate
The 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
In cancer, this term means that the tumor that originated in one place has spread to
distant organs or structures.
• Systemic Therapy
Treatment that reaches and affects cells throughout the body; for example,
• Tamoxifen
This drug blocks the effects of estrogen on many organs, such as the breast. Estrogen
promotes the growth of some breast cancers. Recent research suggests that tamoxifen
may lower the risk of breast cancer in women with certain risk factors.
• Testes
The male reproductive glands found in the scrotum. The testes (or testicles) produce
sperm and the male hormone testosterone.
• Testosterone
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.
• Thrombocytopenia
A decrease in the number of platelets in the blood; can be a side effect of Chemotherapy.
• Tissue
A collection of cells, united to perform a particular function.
• Trachea
The windpipe.
• Tracheostomy
Surgery to create an opening of the trachea through the neck.
• Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS)
The use of sound waves to create a picture of the prostate on a screen to help detect
• Tumor
A group of cells, growing and dividing at a rate which is faster than the surrounding
tissues, thus forming a mass.

A tumor can be either benign (only grows locally and does not spread or invade
surrounding tissues) or malignant (invades surrounding tissues and spreads to other
organ systems remotely located).

• Tumor Marker
Abnormal proteins on the surface of some cancerous cells that sometimes are used to
monitor response to treatment or detect recurrence.
• Tumor Suppressor Genes
Genes that, when present, prevent cell growth but when not present or when not active
allow cells to grow out of control.
• Ultrasound
An 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.
• Unilateral
Affecting one side of the body. For example, unilateral breast cancer occurs in one breast
only. (See also bilateral).
• Urethra
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 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.

• Urologist
A doctor who specializes in treating problems of the urinary tract in men and women, and
of the genital tract in men.
• Urostomy
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.
• Uterus
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.
• Vagina
The passage leading from the vulva to the uterus in women.
• Virus
Very small organisms that cause infections. Viruses are too small to be seen with a
regular microscope. They reproduce only in living cells.
• Watchful waiting or the 'wait and watch' policy
Instead of active treatment for 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 started.
• White blood cells
A doctor who specializes in treating problems of the urinary tract in men and women, and
of the genital tract in men.
• X-ray
A photograph or examination made by using low power radiation, which can penetrate
solid objects and see through them. The image is captured on a special film. It is used
for diagnostic purposes, that is, to detect problems inside the body.

X-rays are also known as radiographs.

• No information of the existence of any form of terminology in this category.
• No information of the existence of any form of terminology in this category.
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