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Glossary

  • Acquired Mutations —changes in DNA that that occur during a person’s lifetime
  • Adenocarcinomas —tumors that arise in the epithelial tissue of a gland (eg, kidney, prostate and breast cancers)
  • Alkylating Agents —a family of anticancer drugs that inhibits cancer cell growth by interfering with the cell's ability to replicate its DNA
  • Allogenic Bone Marrow Transplant ( BMT ) —procedure in which the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow are harvested from a doner and transferred to someone else
  • Angiogenesis —blood vessel formation; tumor angiogenesis is the growth of blood vessels to supply a solid tumor
  • Angiography —procedure in which a dye is injected into an artery in order to visualize it using x-rays
  • Annual Risk —the chances of acquiring a disease or condition during a given year
  • Antimetabolites —chemotherapeutic agents that interfere with the reproduction and function of cells
  • Apoptosis —the mechanism by which old or damaged cells self-destruct
  • Autologous Bone Marrow Transplant ( BMT ) —procedure in which the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow are harvested from a patient and returned at a later time
  • Barium Enem a —a diagnostic procedure in which an x-ray absorbing substance is barium, an x-ray absorbing substances in injected into the rectum and colon so as to produce x-ray images of their interior
  • Basal —lowermost level of epithelial cells, anchoring the cells above
  • Basic Research —research directed toward understanding the causes of cancer and how it affects the cells, tissues, and organs of the body; advances in basic research provide the foundation for clinical research
  • Biopsy —removal of a sample of tissue to test for cancer cells; See also surgical biopsy Also see Surgical Biopsy
  • Bone Marrow —tissue within the cavities of bones that contains fat and blood-forming cells; healthy bone marrow constantly replenishes the blood red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets
  • Bone Marrow Aspiration —a procedure in which a sample of liquid bone marrow is removed and tested for the presence of disease; the sample is usually obtained by inserting a needle into the pelvic bone
  • Bone Marrow Biopsy —a procedure in which a sample of bone marrow and a small piece of bone are removed and tested for the presence of disease; the samples are usually obtained by inserting a needle into the pelvic bone
  • Bone Marrow Transplant —the removal of blood-forming cells from a donor followed by the transfer of the cells to a recipient
  • Bone Scan —a diagnostic procedure in which a radioactive compound called is injected into the bloodstream in order to detect the presence of cancer (or other abnormalities) in the bones
  • Brachytherapy —administration of radiation therapy by surgically implanting radioactive materials near the tumors in an effort to kill cancer cells and minimize damage to surrounding tissue
  • Bronchoscopy —visualization of the airways in the lungs with a small, lighted fiberoptic tube (bronchoscope), through which tissue samples may be obtained to check for cancer
  • Carcinogens —substances that damage DNA and cause cancer
  • Carcinoma —cancer arising in any of the epithelial tissue that covers the external or internal body surfaces; eg, skin, lung, breast, prostate, and colon cancer
  • Carcinoma in situ —cancer cells confined to their epithelial tissue of origin; noninvasive growth
  • Chest X-ray —a series of standard x-ray images of the chest
  • Chromosome —part of a cell that contains genetic information in the form of genes; except for sperm and eggs, virtually all human cells contain 46 chromosomes
  • Clinical Research —research that uses humans to studies new ways of preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer
  • Clinical Trials —research studies that uses humans to test new drugs or other treatments and compare their effectiveness and side effects with those of current, standard treatments
  • Cobalt (Cobalt 60) —radioisotope used as a source of megavoltage radiation for treating some cancers of the internal organs
  • Colonoscopy —a procedure in which a thin, fiberotpic tube equipped with a light source, camera and instruments is inserted through the anus to view the entire rectum and colon; designed to examine, biopsy and treat polyps, cancers and other abnormalities
  • Colposcopy —test which enables the doctor to closely examine the genitals, vagina, and cervix
  • Combination Chemotherapy —use of two or more drugs to treat cancer by destroying the maximum number of tumor cells while minimizing toxicity and drug resistance
  • Contact Inhibition —mechanism by which cells stop proliferating when they make contact with each other
  • CT Scan —x-ray study that uses a computer to produce cross-sectional images of the inside of the body
  • Cystoscopy —test which enables a doctor to examine the inside of the bladder and the urethra
  • Cytoskeleton —scaffolding of microscopic filaments that give a cell its form and structural integrity
  • Deletions —removal of one or more base pairs, which may result in the expression (production) of an abnormal protein or no protein at all
  • Diagnostic Imaging —includes all tests that produce images or pictures of the inside of the body in order to diagnose diseases
  • Differentiation —process by which a cell changes its structure and function so as to perform a specific task
  • Digital Radiography —converts x-ray images to electronic data that can be viewed on a monitor and stored on computer disks; allows specific areas of the image to be enlarged and adjusted for greater visibility
  • Digital Rectal Exam —insertion of a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to check for masses or other abnormalities
  • Dysplasia —abnormal changes in a cell that portend the development of cancer
  • Endoscopy —use of a fiberoptic tube equipped with a light source and various instruments to examine the interior of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Epidermis —outermost, protective layer of the skin
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy —an upper endoscopy; use of a fiberoptic tube equipped with a light source and various instruments to examine the interior of the esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum)
  • Excisional Biopsy —surgical procedure in which an entire tumor is removed
  • Fecal Occult Blood Test —a small sample of stool is placed on a special card and tested by a lab for hidden blood
  • Fibrosis —the formation of excessive scar tissue, as in a reparative or reactive process
  • Fine Needle Aspiration —procedure in which a thin needle is used to remove fluid and/or cells from a tumor or other suspicious area
  • Gallium Scan —procedure in which a radioactive compound called Gallium-67 is injected into a veins, to facilitate visualization of a tumor
  • Growth Factor —protein that stimulates cellular growth and development
  • Growth Inhibitory Factor —protein that inhibits cellular growth and development
  • Hematologic Cancers —cancers that arise in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow and then populate either the blood (leukemias) or lymphatic (lymphomas)
  • Hereditary Mutations —mutations inherited from one’s parents
  • Heterogeneous —consisting of dissimilar elements or parts
  • Home Care —care administered by nurses, therapists or other health professionals in a patient’s home
  • Homogeneous —consisting of similar elements or parts
  • Hospice Care —care designed to help cancer patients and their and their families in the final stages of the disease
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) —virus that causes warts; certain strains that infect the cervix may cause cervical cancer
  • Hyperplasia —an abnormal increase in the number of cells in a tissue with consequent enlargement
  • Hyperthermia —a treatment that uses several different methods to increase the temperature of the area of the body cancer containing cancer as a means to inhibit its growth
  • Immunophenotyping —the characterization of cells based on immunologically active markers on their surface
  • Incisional Biopsy —the surgical removal of a portion of a larger tumor; sometimes used as part of a debulking procedure in the hope of improving the efficacy of radiation or chemotherapy
  • Infusion Center —a special area within a medical oncology department for administering intravenous chemotherapy to patients who are not admitted overnight
  • Insertions —addition of one or more base pairs, which may result in the altered expression of a protein
  • Intravenous Pyelography —procedure in which dye is injected into a vein and a series of x-rays are taken to visualize the urinary system
  • Inpatient Unit (Medical Oncology) —a unit in the hospital where cancer patients receive care from physicians, nurses, technicians, and other providers familiar with the needs of cancer patients
  • Ionizing Radiation —high energy radiation that may lead to certain cancers; also used in the treatment of cancer
  • Kilovoltage Radiation Therapy —radiation treatment that is high enough to kill cancer cells without penetrating deeply into the body; often used for treating skin tumors
  • Laparoscopy —a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which tiny incisions are made in the abdomen, through which lighted fiberoptic tubes and instruments are passed
  • Laparotomy —an invasive surgical procedure in which an incision is made through the wall of the abdomen to gain access to the abdominal contents
  • Large Needle (or Core) Biopsy —procedure in which tissue is removed with a large-bore needle in order to diagnose cancer
  • Leukemias —cancers of the immature blood cells that originate in the bone marrow and accumulate in large numbers in the bloodstream
  • Life-time Risk —the chances of acquiring a disease or condition over the period of one’s life
  • Linear Accelerator —machine that creates a stream of fast-moving subatomic particles used in the treatment of certain cancers
  • Lumbar Puncture (Spinal Tap) —removal of a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord to test for cancer cells and other substances indicative of disease
  • Lymphangiogram —procedure in which a dye is injected directly into the lymphatic vessels in order to visualize using x-rays
  • Lymph Node Biopsy —procedure in which one or more lymph nodes are removed and examined under a microscope to determine whether or not cancer is present
  • Lymphatic System —network of channels that transport the fluid, debris and waist products that accumulate within tissues (lymph) back into the circulatory system; consists of the lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels
  • Lymphomas —cancers of the white blood cells that primarily occupy the lymph nodes and tissues of the body's immune system
  • Lymphoscintigraphy —a diagnostic test to track the flow of lymph; it is performed prior to a sentinel lymph node biopsy, which is done to see if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) —a procedure in which magnetic fields and radio waves combine to produce computerized images of the body’s interior
  • Mammography —specialized x-ray study of the breast
  • Mediastinoscopy —a procedure in which an instrument is inserted through a small incision in the middle portion of chest to remove lymph node tissue and possibly cancer cells from the region between the lungs
  • Medical Oncology —a subspecialty of internal medicine; medical oncologists provide chemotherapy and other nonradiation and nonsurgical treatments to cancer patients
  • Metastasis —spreading of cancer from a primary tumor to another site
  • Mitosis —division of a parent cell into two daughter cells
  • Multiple Myelomas —cancer of white blood cells that produces large quantities of antibodies, which are proteins used by the immune system to fend off disease
  • Mutagenesis —the process whereby genes become mutated
  • Mutation —genetic alteration of a single cell that, in the context of cancer, results in unregulated cell proliferation
  • Nucleus —enclosed central portion of cell, which its DNA
  • Needle Aspiration —a biopsy technique in which a needle is inserted into a suspected tumor and a small sample of fluid and cells is withdrawn
  • Needle Biopsy —a biopsy technique in which a needle is inserted into a suspected tumor and a small sample of tissue is withdrawn
  • Negative Feedback Loop —cause-and-effect relationships in the body that results in the reduction of a change
  • Neoplasm —a new growth of benign or malignant tissue
  • Nuclear Medicine —involves the use of radioactive substances, called radionuclides or tracers, to create images of the body’s interior
  • Oncogenes —abnormal forms of the genes that predispose to unregulated cell growth
  • Opisthorchis sinensis a liver fluke which has been linked to cancer of the pancreas and bile ducts
  • Parasite —an organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered on or in a different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its host
  • Peritoneal Lavage —a procedure in which saline solution (salt water) is washed through the abdomen and then suctioned out; the saline is examined under a microscope for the presence of cancer cells
  • Point Mutation —a change in one base pair of a gene that may lead to the altered expression of a protein
  • Positive Feedback Loop —cause-and effect relationships in the body that results in the amplification of a change
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan —an imaging technique that provides information about the metabolic activity in an organ
  • Polypectomy —the removal of a polyp during an endoscopic procedure of the rectum or colon
  • Proliferation —the growth and reproduction of cells
  • Protein Kinases —enzymes that help regulate many cellular activities
  • PSA Test —a procedure in which blood is drawn and the level of prostate specific antigen (PSA) is measured; used to screen for and assess the treatment of prostate cancer
  • Pulmonary Function Tests —a series of tests used mostly to determine how well the lungs are ventilating
  • Renal Angiography —an x-ray study using contrast material to image the arteries leading to the kidneys; useful in diagnosing renal cancers
  • Sarcomas —cancers arising from cells found in the connective tissues of the body such as bone, cartilage, fat, and muscle
  • Schistosoma haematobium a type of parasitic worm that has been linked to bladder cancer
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy —a procedure used to check for cancer that may have spread to the lymph nodes
  • Sigmoidoscopy —a procedure in which a thin, fiberotpic tube equipped with a light source, camera and instruments is inserted through the anus to view the inside of the lower colon and rectum to look for polyps, cancers and other abnormalities
  • Sputum Cytology —examination of a sample of mucus from the lungs to check for cancer cells
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma —cancer of the superficial cells of the skin
  • Stem Cells —undeveloped, undifferentiated cells; able to differentiate into all types of cells
  • Stereotaxis —a technique in which a computer-assisted CT or MRI scan is used to precisely locate and biopsy a tumor
  • Surgical Biopsy —the surgical removal of all or part of a suspicious mass for lab examination
  • Thoracentesis —a procedure in which a needle is inserted through the chest wall to remove a sample of the fluid from around the lungs to check for cancer cells
  • Translocations —all or part of a gene recombines with other genes, which may result in the altered expression of a protein or proteins
  • Transrectal Ultrasound —a procedure in which an ultrasound probe inserted into the rectum is used to create images of the prostate gland
  • Tumor Suppressor Genes —normal genes that keep the growth of cells in check; their absence or alteration may lead to cancer
  • Ultrasound —the use of reflected, high-frequency sound waves to create instantaneous images of structures inside the body
  • Ultraviolet Radiation —invisible, electromagnetic energy produced by the sun and other sources on earth (e.g., sun lamps) that can cause melanoma and other types of skin cancer
  • Upper GI X-ray Study —a procedure in which the patient drinks a thick, chalky barium solution while a series of x-rays of the esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine (duodenum) are taken
  • Urine and Blood Tests —a sample of urine or blood used for the purpose of diagnosing or screening for a diseases, or detecting the presence or amount of drugs
  • Vaginal Exam —procedure in which the doctor examines a patient’s vagina, ovaries, and other reproductive organs to determine their condition
  • Virus —a small bundle of genes enclosed within a protein shell and membranous envelope that reproduce by infecting host cells; a number of viruses have been linked to certain cancers
  • Xeroderma Pigmentosum —a rare genetic defect that impairs the ability of cells to repair DNA damaged by ultraviolet radiation; characterized by severe sensitivity to all sources of UV radiation (especially sunlight) and an abnormally high incidence of skin cancer