OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Cancer Glossary

Acromegaly A disorder that occurs in adults. It is caused by the pituitary gland making too much growth hormone. This causes the bones to grow, including bones in the hands, feet and face.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia A cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.
Acute myeloid leukemia A cancer in which the bone marrow makes abnormal myeloblasts, a type of white blood cell, red blood cells or platelets. It is the most common type of acute leukemia in adults.
Acute promyelocytic leukemia A cancer in which there are too many immature blood-forming cells in the blood and bone marrow. It is a fast-growing type of acute myeloid leukemia.
Adenomatous polyp A growth in the colon or rectum that is not cancerous. Polyps can become cancerous.
Adjuvant therapy Treatment added to the main treatment for a disease. For example, chemotherapy, radiation or both can be used as adjuvant therapy after cancer surgery.
Advance Practice Palliative Care Nurses A nurse who is specialty-trained to provide care to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease. The goal of palliative care is to prevent or treat as early as possible the symptoms of a disease, side effects caused by treatment of a disease, and psychological, social, and spiritual problems related to a disease or its treatment. Also called comfort care, supportive care, and symptom management.
Aggressive (high grade) lymphomas Aggressive (high grade) lymphomas grow quickly. They are treated with systemic chemotherapy and are often curable. Selected patients may benefit from additional radiation therapy. Stem cell (bone marrow) transplant is frequently used to treat high risk or relapsed disease.
Allogeneic transplants Patients receive stem cells from their brother, sister, parent or unrelated donor (a person who is not related to the patient).
Allogenic transplant Patients receive stem cells from a brother, sister, parent or donor who is not a relative.
Androgen therapy Treatment to lower the amount of male hormone in the body.
Anemia The body does not make enough red blood cells. In some types, the body does not make enough other blood cells.
Anesthesiologist A doctor or other healthcare provider who gives anesthesia during surgery.
Antibody therapy Treatment with an antibody, a substance that can directly kill specific tumor cells or stimulate the immune system to kill tumor cells.
Anticoagulant A substance that keeps blood from clotting as it normally would.
Antihistamines A medicine used to treat allergies and hypersensitive reactions and colds; works by counteracting the effects of histamine on a receptor site.
Autologous transplant Patients receive their own stem cells or other tissue
B12 deficiency Not having enough vitamin B12 in the body. This can happen if your diet does not have enough B12 or your body cannot take it in.
Benign Without cancer. A benign tumor does not spread to other tissues or areas of the body.
Bevacizumab (Avastin) A drug that keeps blood vessels from forming or spreading.
Bile A fluid made in the liver that helps digestion.
Biologic agents An extremely complex drug, vaccine or antitoxin that is made from a living organism, or from products of a living organism.
Biologic therapy Treatment with substances found naturally in the body that help the immune system fight cancer.
Biorepository A bank that stores tissue specimens, such as tumor samples and blood, for scientific research.
Bleeding disorders Diseases in which the blood cannot clot, causing the body to bleed more than normal.
Blood product therapy Treatment with substances that occur naturally in the blood. Used to treat certain blood diseases.
Blood transfusion A transfer of blood or blood products from one person to another. You can have a transfusion of your own blood if you donate it before a medical procedure.
Bloodless surgery Surgery without a transfusion (transfer) of another person’s blood. If you lose blood during surgery, doctors can give you some of your own blood that you donated before the operation.
Board certified A doctor who has passed exams to be certified as an expert in one or more medical specialties.
Bone marrow transplant Patients receive stem cells from a brother, sister, parent or unrelated donor (a person who is not related to the patient)
Brachytherapy Radiation with small radioactive implants placed inside the body, close to the cancer.
Breast health nurse practitioner A registered nurse with advanced training in breast cancer treatment and care.
Breast medical oncologists Doctors who use drugs (chemotherapy or targeted agents) to kill cancer cells or slow down their growth. Some medical oncologists are also hematologists.
Breast MRI A special imaging technique used to examine the tissues inside the body, particularly the soft tissues. An MRI image is often superior to a normal X-ray image.
Breast pathologist A doctor who studies tissue from the breast to learn about disease and its effects.
Breast surgical oncologists A doctor who does surgery to remove cancer or treat symptoms specializing in breast cancer. A surgical oncologist is fellowship trained in treating cancer with surgery.
Breast ultrasound A test that uses sound waves to create an image (picture) of breast tissue. Ultrasound is used to look for fibrocystic breast disease, check the position of breast implants or examine breast masses (lumps).
Cancer The abnormal growth of cells in the body, causing tumors and illness.
Cancer geneticist A doctor or scientist who studies how genes are involved in the growth, spread and treatment of cancer.
Cancer syndromes Cancer syndromes are genetic predispositions to develop cancer. Genetic predisposition increases a person's chance to develop cancer during their lifetime, and at earlier stages in life. Most common types of cancer that can be genetically transmitted include breast, colorectal, gynecologic and endocrine cancers. However, cancer syndrome cases only account for 5 to 10% of all cancer cases.
Cancer Treatment Treatment trials study potential anticancer treatments (like a new cancer drug, new approaches to surgery or radiation therapy, new combinations of treatments or new methods such as gene therapy), their safety and their effectiveness.
Chemotherapy Cancer treatment with powerful drugs that can kill cancer cells. A type of chemotherapy called biotherapy is treatment with substances in the body (biologic agents) that can help kill cancer.
Chemotherapy before surgery or radiation Chemotherapy before surgery and/or radiation treatment
Chemotherapy With Radiation Treatment with drugs or biologic agents given at the same time as radiation.
Choroidal melanoma Relatively rare malignant melanomas that form in the choroid, the blood vessel layer beneath the retina. Treatment options are determined by the size of the tumor.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia A slow-growing cancer. The body has too many immature lymphocytes (white blood cells), mostly in the blood and bone marrow. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) are closely related to each other and are told apart by the extent of blood and bone marrow involvement. CLL is the most common form of leukemia and behaves very differently from acute leukemia. CLL/SLL is typically managed by observation, immunotherapy, and/or chemotherapy.
Chronic myelogenous leukemia A slow-growing form of leukemia in which too many white blood cells are made in the bone marrow. Also called chronic granulocytic leukemia and chronic myeloid leukemia.
Cirrhosis A chronic liver disease that causes scarring on the liver and keeps it from working normally.
CLIA The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments; The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulates all laboratory testing (except research) performed on humans in the U.S. through the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA).
Clinical Trial protocol A document that describes the objective(s), design, methodology, statistical considerations, and organization of a clinical trial. The protocol usually also gives the background and reason the trial is being conducted. The plan is designed to safeguard the health of the participants as well as answer specific research questions.
Clinical Trial Protocol A protocol is a study plan on which all clinical trials are based. The plan is carefully designed to safeguard the health of the participants as well as answer specific research questions. A protocol describes what types of people may participate in the trial; the schedule of tests, procedures, medications, and dosages; and the length of the study. While in a clinical trial, participants following a protocol are seen regularly by the research staff to monitor their health and to determine the safety and effectiveness of their treatment.
Clinical trials Research studies that involve humans. They help scientists develop new treatments and cures for disease.
Clinicopathologic Related to a patient’s symptoms and the results of lab tests.
Cognition Thinking, knowing, remembering, judging, and problem solving
Cognitive rehabilitation Treatment to help people recover normal mental function after disease, injury or treatment.
Colorectal Surgeon A surgeon, or proctologist, who has a particular interest in diseases of the colon and rectum.
Combination chemotherapy Treatment with two or more cancer-fighting drugs at the same time.
Community medical oncologist A cancer doctor whose office is away from the hospital, but who works with your hospital team to diagnose and treat cancer, usually with drugs (chemotherapy).
Concurrent chemotherapy Treatment with drugs or biologic agents at the same time as radiation.
Conformal external beam radiation Radiation therapy that uses computers to create a three-dimensional picture of the tumor, allowing many radiation beams to be shaped to reach the tumor and avoid healthy tissue.
Conformal External Beam Radiation Therapy Radiation therapy that uses computers to create a 3-dimensional picture of the tumor, allowing multiple radiation beams to be shaped (conform) to the exact contours of the treatment area.
Conventional external beam radiation Radiation treatment given from outside the body.
Coordinated Care Team A group of doctors and nurses who work together to give you personalized, efficient care.
Cryotherapy Used to treat prostate cancer. This treatment is used for cancer that has not spread outside the prostate gland. Probes containing liquid nitrogen are inserted into the prostate and maneuvered using ultrasound to destroy prostate tissue. If your cancer is only in the prostate gland, this treatment could be a good option for you. You might also have cryotherapy if other treatments, such as radiation, have not worked.
CT scan, CAT scan Imaging that uses computers and X-rays to let doctors see inside the body. A CT scan is more detailed than a regular X-ray.
Cushing’s syndrome A disorder caused by too much of the hormone cortisol in the blood. It can be caused by taking certain medications or by a pituitary gland disorder.
Cutaneous lymphoma Cutaneous lymphoma is a type of lymphoma that begins in the skin. Mycosis fungoides is the most common form of cutaneous lymphoma, but there are several other types. Cutaneous lymphoma is usually indolent, but there are also aggressive forms. Cutaneous lymphoma can be difficult to diagnose, and sometimes many biopsies over time are needed before characteristic changes are found. Skin-directed therapies are used for disease that is slower growing or involves a limited area. Aggressive or more extensive disease typically requires systemic chemotherapy.
Dermatologic surgeon A doctor who treats skin diseases and conditions with surgery, including Mohs micrographic and reconstructive surgery.
Dermatologic surgeons Doctors who treat skin diseases and conditions with surgery, including Mohs micrographic and reconstructive surgery.
Dermatologist A specialist in dermatology, esp. a doctor who specializes in the treatment of diseases of the skin.
Dermatologists Specialists in dermatology, esp. doctors who specialize in the treatment of diseases of the skin.
Dermatopathologist A doctor trained in dermatology, the treatment of skin diseases and conditions, and pathology, the study of tissue taken from the body.
Dermatopathologists Doctors trained in dermatology, the treatment of skin diseases and conditions, and pathology, the study of tissue taken from the body.
Diagnostic mammography A breast X-ray done to examine a change in breast tissue, such as a lump, found by a screening mammogram
Distal pancreatectomy Removal of the tail of the pancreas and part of the body of the pancreas.
Dosimetry Measurement of radiation exposure, especially X-rays or gamma rays, or measuring how much radiation has been received from radioactive medicines that are injected or swallowed.
Ductogram Imaging of the breast duct to find the source of nipple discharge.
Ductograms Imaging of the breast duct to determine the source of nipple discharge.
Duodenum The part of the small intestine directly below the stomach.
Endocrine The endocrine system is a system of glands that involve the release of hormones. The endocrine system is instrumental in regulating metabolism, growth, development and puberty, and tissue function and also plays a part in determining mood.
Endocrine system The organs that make hormones to keep the body working. They include the thyroid gland, the adrenal gland and other organs.
Endocrinologist A doctor who treats diseases and conditions of the endocrine system, including the thyroid gland, adrenal gland and other organs, with medicine and treatments other than surgery.
Endocrinologists Doctor who treat diseases and conditions of the endocrine system, including the thyroid gland, adrenal gland and other organs, with medicine and treatments other than surgery.
Endoscope An endoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument that has a light and a lens for viewing. A probe at the end of the endoscope is used to bounce high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) off internal organs to make a picture (sonogram).
Endoscopic and endoscopic-assisted surgery Surgery using telescopes. It is typically used during surgeries done entirely or partially through the nose.
Endoscopic video-assisted surgery Surgery using small instruments with lenses and lights that help doctors see inside the body.
Enucleation Refers to the surgical removal of a tumor without cutting into or dissecting it.
Erectile dysfunction Impotence resulting from a man's inability to have or maintain an erection of his penis
Ewing model Dr. James Ewing pioneered the concept of the modern surgical oncologist. Ewing was one of the founders of the Memorial Hospital for Cancer and Allied Diseases, now the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Although he was a surgical pathologist by training, Ewing promoted the idea that cancer surgeons must, in addition to technical expertise, have a thorough understanding of the biology of the disease and detailed knowledge of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Exocrine pancreas The part of the pancreas that makes digestive enzymes.
External beam radiation therapy Radiation treatment from a machine outside the body. A radiation beam passes through the body.
Familial adenomatous polyposis A hereditary condition that causes many noncancerous (benign) growths in the colon. The growths become cancerous if the colon is not removed.
Fellowship trained A doctor with one or two years of additional specialty training after residency.
Gastric surgeon Doctor who does surgery on the stomach and other digestive organs.
Gastric surgeons Doctors who do surgery on the stomach and other digestive organs.
Gastroenterologist A doctor who treats diseases and conditions of the digestive system (stomach, intestines and other organs).
Gastroenterologists Doctors who treat diseases and conditions of the digestive system (stomach, intestines and other organs).
Gemcitabine (Gemzar) A drug used in chemotherapy.
General Surgeon A surgeon who treats a wide variety of colon and rectal diseases ranging from colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel diseases (ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease), diverticulitis, gastrointestinal bleeding, hemorrhoids, etc.
General surgeon A surgeon who does surgery on several different areas of the body.
Genetic Counselors Genetic counselors are specially trained healthcare professionals with skills in medical genetics and counseling who work in a variety of settings including cancer genetic risk assessment.
Geneticists A doctor or scientist who studies heredity and the effects of genes on disease.
Genitourinary cancer Cancer of the reproductive and urinary organs, including the kidneys, prostate, bladder, testicles and other organs.
Genotyping A test to determine what genes a person has, including genes linked to diseases such as cancer.
Germ cell neoplasm A tumor that develops from cells called germ cells. Germ cells are found in the testicles and ovaries.
Gleevec First approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2001, GLEEVEC® (imatinib mesylate) is a unique treatment for certain forms of cancer. It works by targeting, and turning off, specific proteins in cancer cells that cause the cancer cells to grow and multiply.
Growth factors Substances that occur naturally in the body that stimulate cells to grow.
Gynecologic Oncologists Doctors who specialize in treating cancers of the female reproductive system.
Hand therapy Treatment to recover normal hand movement and function after disease, injury or medical treatment.
Head and neck surgeon A doctor who does surgery for head and neck diseases, including cancer.
Head and neck surgeons Doctors who do surgery for head and neck diseases, including cancer.
Head of the pancreas The part of the pancreas inside the curve of the duodenum.
Hematologist/Medical Oncologists Your hematologist/medical oncologist will coordinate your care. Each doctor on the transplant team specializes in your type of blood and marrow transplantation.
Hematologists Doctors who specialize in treating blood disorders.
Hematology The branch of medicine that deals with diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs.
Hematopoietic stem cell Cells that are defined by their ability to form multiple different cell types (multipotency) and their ability to self-renew, i.e. the ability to maintain their own population at an approximately constant level.
Hemolytic anemia A type of anemia in which red blood cells break down.
Hepatology The medical specialty of caring for and treating the liver, gallbladder and pancreas.
Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer A type of colon cancer with increased risk of tumors in other parts of the body.
Hodgkin lymphoma Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of B cell lymphoma, characterized by malignant ‘Reed-Sternberg’ cells. Hodgkin lymphoma accounts for about 10% of all lymphoma and often occurs in younger people. Most Hodgkin lymphoma is of the ‘classical’ type. It is treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation and typically has a good prognosis. Stem cell (bone marrow) transplant is usually recommended for relapsed disease. Non-classical Hodgkin lymphoma acts and is treated like an indolent Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Hormone-blocking therapy Treatment that removes, blocks or adds hormones to treat cancer.
Hyperparathyroid The overproduction of parathyroid hormone by glands, which are near the thyroid (the parathyroid glands).
Hypothyroidism The thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.
Image-guided radiation therapy Radiation that uses images from a CT scan, MRI or other scanning equipment to focus radiation beams precisely on a tumor.
Immunosuppressive drugs Drugs that slow down or stop the activity of your body’s immune system.
Incontinence Inability to control the flow of urine from the bladder (urinary incontinence) or the escape of stool from the rectum (fecal incontinence).
Indolent (low grade) lymphomas Indolent (low grade) lymphomas usually grow slowly. They do not always require treatment right away and can sometimes be carefully observed without therapy for months to years. Indolent lymphomas generally respond well to treatment but frequently come back. Depending upon the situation, treatment options may include observation, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, radiation, radio-immunotherapy, and stem cell (bone marrow) transplant.
Inherited cancer syndrome An inherited (hereditary) change in your genes that increases the chances of developing one or more types of cancer.
Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) Precise radiation therapy that focuses guided energy directly on a tumor.
Internal beam radiation therapy Radiation with tiny implants placed close to the area of cancer. Also called brachytherapy.
Interventional radiologist A doctor who uses imaging, such as X-rays, CT scans and MRI scans to guide treatment with tiny instruments, such as needles or small probes.
Interventional radiology Using imaging, such as X-rays, CT scans and MRI scans to guide treatment with tiny instruments, such as needles or small probes.
IntraBeam Radiation therapy given through a small probe immediately after a surgeon removes a breast tumor.
IntraBeam Therapy to Part of the Breast Radiation therapy given through a small probe immediately after a surgeon removes a breast tumor.
Intraocular chemotherapy Chemotherapy given directly into the eye
Iron deficiency Not enough iron in the body. Iron deficiency can affect bone marrow and muscle function.
Iron overload Too much iron in the body. Iron overload can affect the liver, heart and other organs.
islet cell tumors An uncommon tumor of the pancreas that arises from a type of cell called the islet cell in the pancreas.
Islet cells Cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of sugar in the blood.
Jaundice A condition that makes the skin and eyes look yellow.
Juvenile polyposis syndrome An inherited condition that causes many polyps (growths) in the digestive system.
Laparoscopic surgery Also called minimally invasive surgery, is a modern surgical technique in which operations are performed through very small incisions (usually 0.5–1.5cm) as compared to larger incisions needed in traditional surgical procedures, and recovery usually takes less time.
Laser surgery Surgery that uses light energy to cut tissue instead of a scalpel.
Linear accelerators A linear particle accelerator (often shortened to linac) is a piece of medical equipment used in Radiation Medicine that greatly increases the speed of charged subatomic particles or ions and us used to destroy tumor cells.
Locate and resect primary tumors The surgical removal of all or part of a tumor.
Lumpectomy Removing just the part of a breast with cancer, not the whole breast.
Lymphedema specialist A healthcare provider who treats patients with lymphedema, a condition that happens when lymph nodes are removed. Lymphedema causes swelling and discomfort for some people after cancer treatment.
Lymphedema specialists Providers who treat patients with lymphedema, a condition that happens when lymph nodes are removed. Lymphedema causes swelling and discomfort for some people after cancer treatment.
Lymphoma Cancer that begins in immune system cells.
Malignancy A tumor or growth that contains cancer cells.
Malignant Containing cancer cells.
Mammogram An X-ray used to examine breast tissue.
Mammographers A radiation technologist who specializes in using X-rays to examine the breasts.
Mammography-guided wire localization Surgery guided by mammography or ultrasound that uses a wire to help guide the surgeon to the targeted area.
Mastectomy Surgery to remove all or part of a breast.
Medical Oncologist A doctor who uses drugs (chemotherapy or targeted agents) to kill cancer cells or slow down their growth. Some medical oncologists are also hematologists.
Medical Oncologists Doctors who use drugs (chemotherapy or targeted agents) to kill cancer cells or slow down their growth. Some medical oncologists are also hematologists.
Medical oncology Oncology is the branch of medicine dealing with tumors (cancer). A medical professional who practices oncology is an oncologist.
Medical Treatment Care provided to improve a situation especially medical procedures or applications that are intended to relieve illness or injury.
Melanocytes The cells that give skin its color. Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, develops in these cells.
Metastasis The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another. A tumor formed by cells that have spread is called a “metastatic tumor” or a “metastasis.” The metastatic tumor contains cells that are like those in the original (primary) tumor.
Metastatic Cancer that has spread from the place it started to other areas in the body.
Microsurgery Surgery using microscope. It is typically used during complex neurosurgical procedures and reconstructive cases.
Microsurgery Surgery done with a microscope and tiny, precision instruments.
Minimally invasive A procedure with as little opening (cutting) of the body as possible. Minimally invasive surgery usually uses smaller incisions (cuts) than open surgery.
Molecular diagnostic testing Testing performed on molecules, the smallest unit if cells, This testing is often used to diagnose the presence of lymphoma s or pancreatic tumors, and may also provide the indication for a drug targeting the specific abnormality.
Molecular fingerprint Bits of chemical data in molecules that help scientists find patterns in diseases and other conditions.
Monoclonal antibody therapy Molecules are attached to cancer cells that help the immune system attack the cancer. Some molecules have drugs or radioactive particles attached that help them kill cancer cells.
Multidisciplinary Involving specialists from multiple disciplines (e.g. surgery, radiation)
Multidisciplinary care A team approach to medical treatment. Doctors, nurses and therapists from different specialties share their knowledge and expertise to benefit patients.
Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) Abnormal stem cells damage healthy blood cells that are forming in the bone marrow.
Myeloproliferative syndromes Conditions in which the bone marrow produces too many cells.
MYH associated polyposis An inherited condition that causes many growths (polyps) in the colon. It can lead to colon cancer.
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy Chemotherapy before surgery or radiation. Also called induction chemotherapy.
Neoadjuvant therapy Chemotherapy, radiation or both given before surgery or other treatment.
Neoplasm An abnormal mass of tissue as a result an abnormal growth of cells. The growth of these cells exceeds, and is uncoordinated with, that of the normal tissues around it. It usually causes a lump or tumor. Neoplasms may be non-cancerous, pre-cancerous or cancerous.
Nerve monitoring Surgeries using specialized nerve monitors to minimize the risk of injury to important nerves. This technique is used for many different types of surgeries.
Neutropenia A blood condition caused by having too few neutrophils, a type of white blood cell.
Nipple-sparing mastectomy Breast surgery that removes part or all of a breast, but leaves the nipple so it can be part of the reconstructed breast after cancer treatment.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the most common form of lymphoma and is composed of many different types and sub-types. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is clinically divided into aggressive (high-grade) and indolent (low-grade) disease. However, indolent lymphoma can transform into aggressive lymphoma, and some types of lymphoma do not fit well into either category. Diffuse large B cell lymphoma is the most common type of aggressive Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and accounts for about a third of all lymphoma.
Nonseminoma A type of testicular cancer, named for the type of cell that becomes cancerous.
Novalis TX with brainLAB technology A system for delivering high-intensity radiation therapy to a tumor, avoiding healthy tissue.
Novel molecularly targeted agents Substances that affect specific molecules in the body, used to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.
Nuclear medicine A medical specialty that treats disease with drugs, imaging and small amounts of radioactive material.
Nuclear medicine doctors The branch of medicine that uses radioactive materials either to image a patient's body or to destroy diseased cells.
Nurse Navigator Nurse who works with you, your family and your local doctor to guide you through the patient care process. Each doctor works with a specific nurse navigator.
Nurse Practitioner A registered nurse with advanced training who can diagnose and treat many health conditions. Some nurse practitioners have training in a specialty, such as oncology (cancer care and treatment).
Nurse Practitioners A registered nurse with advanced training who can diagnose and treat many health conditions. Some nurse practitioners have training in a specialty, such as oncology (cancer care and treatment).
Observational Population Studies Observational studies are done with cancer patients and people without cancer. People are observed or certain outcomes (events) are measured, but doctors do not otherwise take action or prescribe drugs or treatments.
Occupational therapy Trains and helps people do daily activities that are important to them, even if they have a disease or disability.
Ocular carcinoma Cancer that begins in tissues that cover structures in the eye.
Ocular melanoma A rare cancer that begins in cells that make the pigment melanin in the eye
Oncologists A medical doctor who treats cancer with drugs and therapies other than radiation or surgery
Oncoprotein A protein involved in the growth of cancer cells.
Open surgery Surgery with an incision (cut) that lets doctors work directly inside the body. Different from minimally invasive or laparoscopic surgery because the incision is usually larger.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeon, dental surgeon A dentist who does surgery for conditions of the mouth, jaw, teeth and face.
Orthotopic neobladder A bladder made from small intestine tissue after the urinary bladder is removed.
Otolaryngologist A doctor who treats ear, nose and throat conditions.
Palliative Intended to relieve or prevent symptoms
Palliative medicine Healthcare that relieves symptoms such as pain and discomfort. The goal is not to cure a disease, but to make patients more comfortable and provide support.
Palliative Medicine Doctor A doctor who is specialty-trained to provide care to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease. The goal of palliative care is to prevent or treat as early as possible the symptoms of a disease, side effects caused by treatment of a disease, and psychological, social, and spiritual problems related to a disease or its treatment. Also called comfort care, supportive care, and symptom management.
Palliative surgery Surgery to relieve the symptoms of a disease or prevent complications. Palliative surgery for cancer usually does not cure the cancer, because it has spread too far in the body to remove completely.
Pancreatoduodenectomy (Whipple procedure) Surgery for pancreatic cancer. The surgeon removes the head of the pancreas, part of the stomach, the duodenum and other tissue in the area.
Parathyroid glands Two small glands near the thyroid gland.
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria Healthy red blood cells are destroyed in this rare blood condition. It can develop on its own or with other blood disorders such as aplastic anemia.
Partial breast radiation with conformal beam radiation therapy Radiation to the area where a breast tumor was removed. Radiation beams are shaped to avoid healthy tissue and match the tumor area.
Pathologist A doctor who studies tissue from the body to learn about disease and its effects.
Pathologists Doctor who study tissue from the body to learn about disease and its effects.
Pathology Studying tissues from the body to learn more about disease.
Peripheral blood stem cell transplant A transplant of stem cells collected from the blood.
PET Scan A procedure in which a small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein, and a scanner is used to make detailed, computerized pictures of areas inside the body where the glucose is used. Because cancer cells often use more glucose than normal cells, the pictures can be used to find cancer cells in the body. Also called positron emission tomography scan.
Peutz-Jeghers syndrome An inherited condition that causes benign polyps (growths) in the digestive system and freckles on the lips, in the mouth and near the eyes and nose.
Phase I trials These first studies in people evaluate how a new drug should be given (by mouth, injected into the blood or injected into the muscle), how often and what dose is safe. A phase I trial usually has only a small number of patients, sometimes as few as a dozen.
Phase II trials A phase II trial continues to test the safety of the drug and begins to evaluate how well the new drug works. Phase II studies usually focus on a particular type of cancer.
Phase III trials These studies test a new drug, a new combination of drugs or a new surgical procedure in comparison to the current standard. A participant will usually be assigned at random to the standard treatment group or the new group. Phase III trials often enroll large numbers of people. They may be conducted at many doctors' offices, clinics and cancer centers nationwide.
Phase IV trials The purpose of phase IV trials is to evaluate the side effects, risks and benefits of a drug over a longer time and in more people than in phase III clinical trials.
Physical therapist A healthcare provider who evaluates, treats and prevents disability caused by injury, disease or other conditions.
Physical Therapists Healthcare providers who treat injuries or illness with exercise, activities and other techniques to help the body function better and decrease pain or discomfort.
Physical therapists Healthcare providers who treat injuries or illness with exercise, activities and other techniques to help the body function better and decrease pain or discomfort.
Physician Assistant A healthcare provider who treats patients under a doctor’s supervision.
Physician Assistants Healthcare providers who treat patients under a doctor’s supervision.
Plasma Blood plasma is the yellow liquid component of blood, in which the blood cells are suspended. It makes up about 55% of total blood volume.
Plastic and reconstructive surgeon A doctor who reconstructs damaged skin and other tissue. Plastic and reconstructive surgeons can also do surgery and other procedures to make skin and tissue look younger.
Plastic and reconstructive surgeons Doctors who reconstruct damaged skin and other tissue. Plastic and reconstructive surgeons can also do surgery and other procedures to make skin and tissue look younger.
Plastic surgery Surgery to correct a skin or tissue defect or restore a normal or younger appearance.
Platelet disorders Diseases in which the body makes too many or not enough specialized blood cells called platelets.
Post-mastectomy Radiation Therapy Radiation for the chest and lymph nodes after a mastectomy.
Potentially curative surgery Surgery that may cure cancer by removing it from the body.
Prevention Prevention trials test new approaches, such as medicines, vitamins, minerals or other supplements that doctors believe may lower the risk of a certain type of cancer.
Primary cancer Cancer in the part of the body where it developed first.
Prognosis A forecasting of the probable course and outcome of a disease, esp. of the chances of recovery.
Program coordinator A healthcare team member who arranges patient care, treatment and other activities, such as participation in research studies.
Prostate In men, a gland about the size of a walnut that helps make semen, the fluid that carries sperm. The prostate is just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder.
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) PSA is a protein in the blood that is produced only by prostate cells. PSA reflects the volume of both benign and malignant prostate tissue. The higher the PSA level, the more likely it is that prostate cancer is present. PSA test results are reported as nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). The average PSA level increases with age. For men in their 60’s and 70’s, a PSA above 4 ng/ml is generally considered abnormal while in younger men lower PSA thresholds are used to recommend further evaluation. Ask your doctor for acceptable values for your age.
Radiation Oncologist A physician specifically trained in the use of high energy X-rays to treat cancer.
Radiation Oncologists Physicians specifically trained in the use of high energy X-rays to treat cancer.
Radiation therapy Treatment with high energy radiation from X-rays or other sources of radiation.
Radiation to Part of the Breast with Conformal Beam Radiation Therapy Instead of treating the whole breast with radiation, this treatment uses radiation in the area where the tumor was removed, using several shaped beams of radiation.
Radioactive iodine A radioactive type of iodine used to treat thyroid cancer. Radioactive iodine in a drink, capsule or injection is used to kill cancer cells. Radioactive iodine can be used in tests for thyroid cancer as well as to treat the disease. If your thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroidism), you will take radioactive iodine one time in the form of a capsule. The medicine will directly radiates thyroid tissue, destroying it. It takes eight to 12 weeks for the thyroid gland to return to normal after treatment.
Radioactive iodine therapy A type of iodine that is radioactive is used to treat thyroid cancer. Patients take a small amount of radioactive iodine in a drink, capsule or injection (shot).
Radiofrequency ablation The use of electrodes to generate heat and destroy abnormal tissue by using energy waves to kill cancer cells by heating them.
Reconstructive surgeon A surgeon who restores the appearance and function of tissue damaged by disease, injury or surgery.
Reconstructive surgeons Doctors who reconstruct damaged skin and other tissue. Reconstructive surgeons can also do surgery and other procedures to make skin and tissue look younger.
Re-irradiation techniques Ways of treating cancer with radiation after a patient has already had radiation treatment.
Remission A disease is responding to treatment or under control. Complete remission means that medical tests cannot find any cancer. Partial remission means there is less cancer, but it is not completely gone.
Retinoblastoma Cancer that begins in the retina and usually occurs in children younger than five.
Robotic prostate surgery, robotic prostatectomy (prostate removal) Prostate cancer surgery done with robotic arms holding the instruments. The surgeon controls the robotic arms to move the instruments. Surgery is done through incisions (cuts) that are smaller than in traditional prostate surgery.
Robotic surgery Surgery using robot to assist surgeon to make fewer and smaller incisions. Will be used for thyroid and throat surgeries.
Screening Detection and Diagnosis Screening, detection and diagnosis trials test the best way to find cancer, especially in its early stages when there are often no symptoms.
Seminal vesicles In men, small glands near the bladder and prostate.
Seminoma A type of testicular cancer, named after the type of cell that becomes cancerous.
Sickle cell anemia A disease that gives red blood cells an abnormal sickle (curved) shape. Healthy red blood cells are round, and the curved shape can cause blocks in blood vessels.
Skin cancer, nonmelanoma Cancer that forms in the flat cells of the skin’s surface (squamous cell carcinoma) or the base of the outer layer of skin (basal cell carcinoma).
Social worker A healthcare team member with psychology training who helps patients deal with mental, emotional and daily living issues.
Solid tumor A lump or mass formed by abnormal growth of cells.
Somatostatin analog therapy Treatment option for inoperable or recurrent tumors that acts to decrease the growth hormone inhibiting hormone production of the tumor.
Specialty team Also called a coordinated care team and includes doctors, nurses, therapists and other specialists who are experts in treating specific types of cancer. The team works together to evaluate a patient’s cancer and determines the best therapies for the individual.
Speech and language therapist A healthcare provider who diagnoses and treats speech and language problems, working with patients to improve their speech and related conditions.
Speech pathologist A healthcare provider who diagnoses and treats problems with speech and language.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Cancer that begins in squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells that look like fish scales. Squamous cells are found in the tissue that forms the surface of the skin, the lining of the hollow organs of the body, and the passages of the respiratory and digestive tracts. Also called epidermoid carcinoma.
Staging A system of classifying cancer using several factors, such as tumor size and location in the body.
Stem cell A cell that can develop into other cell types, helping grow new tissue.
Stem cell transplant A transplant of healthy stem cells, which can become new tissue in many different organs. Stem cell transplants can help replace diseased cells.
Stent A small tube placed inside part of the body, such as a blood vessel, to keep it from being blocked.
stereotactic biopsies Surgery guided by mammography (breast X-ray) that allows your doctor to see in three dimensions while taking a tissue sample.
Stereotactic body radiation therapy Radiation that uses special equipment to position the patient and focuses energy on a very small area, avoiding healthy tissue.
Stereotactic surgery, computer-assisted A minimally invasive surgery using a precise map of the area to be treated. This technique can be used for biopsy, surgery, radiation and other procedures.
Stereotactic surgery, computer-assisted A minimally invasive surgery using a precise map of the area to be treated. This technique can be used for biopsy, surgery, radiation and other procedures.
Stutent This medication is used to treat certain types of cancer (kidney and intestinal). Sunitinib works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer tumors. It also works by slowing the growth of new blood vessels within the tumor.
Supportive Care Supportive care trials study treatments to prevent, control or relieve complications and side effects of disease or treatment and to improve patients' comfort and quality of life.
Surgical nurse navigator A nurse who helps patients schedule and prepare for surgery.
Surgical Oncologist A doctor who does surgery to remove cancer or treat symptoms of cancer. A surgical oncologist is fellowship trained in treating cancer with surgery.
Syngeneic transplants Patients receive stem cells from their identical twin.
Targeted biologic agents Treatments designed to destroy cancer cells without harming healthy tissue.
Therapeutic apheresis Taking blood from a patient, separating the blood into its different parts and treating it for disease or replacing it with a blood substitute.
Thoracic surgeon A surgeon who treats the chest, lungs and heart.
Thrombocytopenia A blood disease in which there are too few platelets in the blood.
Thrombotic disorders Conditions in which the blood does not clot normally.
Tissue plasminogen activator An anticlotting enzyme produced naturally in the body and genetically engineered to treat heart attacks, dissolve blood clots and prevent heart damage.
Total pancreatectomy Removal of the entire pancreas. Used to treat pancreatic cancer.
Transplant medicine The medical specialty of treating and caring for patients who need organ transplants.
Treatment modalities Types of treatment.
Tumor An abnormal growth on or inside the body.
Tumor debulking The surgical removal of as much of a tumor as possible.
Tumor dosimetry Measurement of radiation exposure from X-rays, gamma rays, or radioactive medicines that are swallowed or injected (given in a shot).
Tumor embolizations A non-surgical technique used to reduce the amount of blood supply to a tumor to treat a tumor. It involves blocking the flow of blood in selected arteries.
Tumor genotyping Finding the genes associated with tumor development.
Tumor metastases The spreading of a disease (especially cancer)to another part of the body.
Tumor resections The surgical removal of part of a structure or organ.
Ultrasound A test that uses ultrasonic waves to scan the breast. Used to evaluate fibrocystic breast disease, breast implants or breast masses.
Ultrasound and mammography guided-wire localization Surgery that uses mammography (breast X-ray) or ultrasound with a wire to help guide the doctor to the treatment area.
Urologic oncologist A doctor who treats cancers of the urinary and reproductive system, including the prostate, testicles, kidneys and bladder.
Urologic oncology clinic nurse A nurse with specialized training and experience in the urinary and reproductive system. Some urologic oncology nurses are certified as experts in this specialty.
Urologic surgeons A doctor who does surgery on the organs of the urinary and reproductive system, including the prostate, testicles, kidneys and bladder.
Varian linear accelerator A machine that gives intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), a precise type of radiation that focuses energy on a tumor and avoids healthy tissue.
Whipple procedure Surgery for pancreatic cancer. The head of the pancreas, part of the stomach, the duodenum and other tissues are removed.