Ablation: Removal, usually by surgery.
Acute: Symptoms or signs that begin and worsen quickly; not chronic.
Adenocarcinoma: Cancer that arises in the cells that line certain internal organs and that have gland-like or secretory properties.
Adenoma: A benign tumor of glandular origin. If it becomes cancerous it is called adenocarcinoma.
Adjuvant chemotherapy: Chemotherapy used along with surgery or radiation therapy to lower the risk that the cancer will come back.
Alopecia: The loss of hair, which may include body hair as well as scalp hair.
Analgesic: Any drug that relieves pain.
Anatomy: The study of the body's structure and form.
Anemia: A condition where the number of red blood cells is below normal.
Anorexia: An abnormal loss of appetite for food.
Antibody: A protein formed by the body to help defend against infection.
Aspiration: Removal of a sample of fluid or tissue through a needle.
Autoimmune disease: A condition in which the body recognizes its own tissue as foreign and directs an immune response against it.
Axilla: The underarm or armpit.
Axillary nodes: The lymph nodes located in the armpit region.
Benign growth: A nonmalignant tumor that may grow larger but has no tendency to grow into surrounding tissues or spread to other parts of the body. Benign tumors are not cancerous.
Biodistribution: The method of tracking the biological path of where compounds travel within a human subject or animal.
Biopsy (Bx): The surgical removal of a small portion of tissue for microscopic examination to aid in diagnosis.
Bone marrow: The spongy material found in the center of most bones.
Breslow depth: The measurement of thickness of a melanoma used as a prognostic factor and as a description of how deeply tumor cells have invaded.
Bronchoscopy: A diagnostic or therapeutic test at which time a scope or camera tube is inserted, usually through the mouth, to examine the inside of the trachea, air passages and lungs.
Cancer: A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and invade nearby tissues. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.
Carcinogen: Any substance that causes cancer.
CEA: Carcinoembryonic antigen is a blood tumor marker. It is sometimes found in an increased amount in the blood of people who have certain cancers, such as colon and rectum cancers.
Cervical nodes: Lymph nodes in the neck.
Characterization: To describe the charter or quality, to delineate or distinguish.
Chemotherapy: Treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells.
Chemoradiotherapy: Treatment that combines chemotherapy with radiation therapy.
Chronic: Persisting or progressing over a long period of time.
Cohort: A group of individuals sharing common factors. In medicine, a cohort is a group that is part of a clinical trial.
Cutaneous: Relating to the skin.
To remove surgically as much of a tumor as possible.
The treatment plan for a disease or disorder that has been chosen as the best one for a patient after all other choices have been considered.
The identification of the disease or illness from its signs and symptoms.
A specific test or series of tests performed to help diagnose a disease or condition.
A research study that evaluates methods of detecting disease.
Refers to how mature or developed the cancer cells are in a tumor. Differentiated tumor cells resemble normal cells and grow at a slower rate than undifferentiated tumor cells.
The process of cutting apart or separating tissue.
Double blinded study:
A study or trial in which the medical staff, the patient and the people analyzing the results do not know which of several possible therapies the patient is receiving.
One of several and the most common type of breast cancer.
Difficult, painful breathing or shortness of breath.
Edema: Swelling caused by the accumulation of fluid in a part of the body.
Effusion: The abnormal collection of fluid in a body cavity, usually between two adjoining tissues.
Endoscopy: A procedure using a thin, tube-like instrument with a light for viewing the inside of body cavities, such as the esophagus, or stomach.
Epidemiology: A systematic approach to logically determine the patterns and causes of human disease and/or find ways to prevent and/or treat them.
Esophagus: The tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach.
Esophagectomy: An operation to remove a portion of the esophagus.
Esophagitis: Inflammation of the esophagus.
Esophagoscopy: Examination of the esophagus using a thin, lighted instrument.
Etiology: The cause or origin of a disease.
Excision: Surgical removal.
False negative: A test result that indicates that a person does not have a disease or condition when the person actually does have the disease.
False positive: A test result that indicates that a person has a specific disease or condition when the person actually does not have the disease.
Femoral: Relating to the thigh bone.
Fibrosis: Scarring or the growth of fibrous tissue, usually following surgery or radiation therapy.
Fine needle aspiration (FNA): The removal of tissue or fluid with a thin needle for examination under a microscope.
Follicular thyroid cancer: A type of well-differentiated thyroid cancer that grows slowly and is highly treatable.
Glioma: A cancer of the brain that begins in the cells that surround and support nerve cells.
Grade, grading: The grade of a tumor is determined by how abnormal the cancer cells appear when examined under a microscope, the probable growth rate of the tumor, and its tendency to spread.
Granuloma: A granuloma is one of a number of forms of localized nodular inflammation found in tissues. If calcified it is thought to be an old granuloma.
Hilum: The depression in the medial surface of a lung that forms the opening through which the bronchus, blood vessels, and nerves pass.
Histocytology: The microscopic study of cells and their structure.
Histology: The study of the form of structures seen under the microscope; also called microscopic anatomy.
Histopathology: The microscopic study of disease.
Hypermetabolic: Increased metabolic activity that is above normal.
Hypometabolic: Decreased metabolic activity that is less than normal.
Immunity: The body's ability to fight infection and disease.
Immunosuppression: Weakening of the body's immune system and its ability to fight infections and other diseases.
Incisional biopsy: The surgical removal, usually by open incision, of a small portion of tissue for examination under a microscope to diagnose disease.
Infusion: Delivering medication or fluids into the bloodstream over a period of time.
In Situ: In its original place. In the case of carcinoma in situ, abnormal cells are found only in the place where they first formed and have not spread.
Intravenous injection: Injecting a medication into the vein with the use of a syringe and needle.
Kinase: A type of enzyme that causes other molecules in the cell to become active. Some cancer treatments target certain kinases that are linked to cancer.
Laparotomy: Surgery of the abdomen.
Laparoscopy: A type of minimally invasive surgery in which a small incision is made in the abdominal wall through which a thin tube-like instrument called a laparoscope is inserted to look at tissues and organs inside the abdomen.
Lobectomy: Surgical procedure to remove one lobe of an organ such as the lungs, liver, brain or thyroid gland.
Lobular carcinoma: Breast cancer that begins in the lobules or milk producing glands.
Locoregional: Limited to the local region.
Lumpectomy: Surgery to remove abnormal tissue or cancer from the breast and a small amount of normal tissue around it. It is a type of breast-sparing surgery.
Lymph node: Round or oval-shaped organs, often the size of peas or beans that are located throughout the body and contain clusters of cells called lymphocytes.
Lymphadenectomy: Surgical removal of the lymph nodes.
Lymphadenopathy: Disease or swelling of the lymph nodes.
Lymphoscintigraphy: A nuclear medicine procedure that is used to visualize lymph nodes draining a specific area to check for disease.
Malignant tumor: A cancerous tumor made up of cells of the type that can spread to other parts of the body.
Mastectomy: Surgery to remove the breast or as much of the breast tissue as possible.
Mediastinal: Of or related to the mediastinum.
Mediastinoscopy: A surgical procedure for visualizing the mediastinum whereby a scope is inserted through a small incision in the neck.
Mediastinum: The area in the chest cavity between the lungs containing the heart and its large blood vessels, the trachea, esophagus, thymus, and lymph nodes but not the lungs.
Medical oncologist: A physician specialist who orders and plans chemotherapy and other medical care needed for cancer patients.
Metabolism: The whole range of biochemical processes that occur within us (or any living organism).
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. Cells in the metastatic tumor are the same type as those in the primary tumor.
Necrosis: The death of living tissue.
Neoadjuvant therapy: Chemotherapy used in addition to surgery or radiation therapy to shrink the tumor before the main treatment.
Neoplasm: An abnormal mass of tissue or tumor that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasms may be benign or malignant.
Nodule: A small lump or tumor that can be benign or malignant.
Occult primary tumor: Cancer in which the site of the primary tumor cannot be found. Most metastases from occult primary tumors are found in the head and neck.
Oncology: The study and treatment of cancer.
Oncologist: A doctor who specializes in oncology.
Palliative therapy: Treatment that aims to improve well-being, relieve symptoms or control the growth of cancer but not primarily intended or expected to produce a cure.
Partial remission/response: A decrease in the size of a tumor or in the extent of cancer in the body, in response to treatment.
Pathology: The study of disease by the examination of body tissue and fluids under the microscope, and sometimes used to aid in diagnosis.
Person years: The sum of the number of individuals in a study and the total time they were in the study.
Pharmacokinetics: The activity of drugs in the body over a period of time, including the processes by which drugs are absorbed, distributed in the body, localized in the tissues, and excreted.
Phase I trial: The first step in testing a new treatment in humans. These studies look for the best way to give treatment, (orally, IV, injection) and the correct dose and often include a limited number of patients who have not been helped by other known treatments.
Phase I/II trial: A trial to study the safety, dosage levels and response to a new treatment.
Phase II trial: A study focused on whether a new treatment has an anticancer effect (shrinks a tumor, improves blood test results), and whether it is effective for a particular type of cancer.
Phase II/III trial: A trial to study response to a new treatment and the effectiveness of the treatment compared to the standard treatment regimen.
Phase III trial: A study to compare the results of patients taking the new treatment with results of patients taking standard treatment (which group has better survival rates and fewer side effects). Phase III trials may include hundreds of people around the country.
Phase IV trial: After a treatment has been approved and is being marketed it is studied to evaluate side effects that may not have been apparent in a phase III trial.
Physiology: The study of how living organisms function including such processes as nutrition, movement, and reproduction.
Pilot study: The initial study examining a new method or treatment.
Placebo: An inert substance that looks the same and is given in the same way as an active drug and is often used in clinical trials for comparison.
Pleural: Pertaining to the thin covering that protects the lungs.
Pneumonectomy: Surgery to remove all of either the right or left lung.
Poorly differentiated: Under the microscope, a tumor having little or only a slight resemblance to the normal tissue from the same organ.
Prevalence: Number of existing cases, old and new, at a given point in time over a total population.
Primary tumor: The site where a cancer first starts to grow. Even if it spreads elsewhere, the cancer is still known by the place of origin. For example, breast cancer that has spread to the bone is still breast cancer, not bone cancer.
Prognosis: The projected outcome of a disease, the life expectancy or the patient's chance of recovery.
Proliferation: To multiply or increase in number by rapid production.
Protocol: A detailed treatment plan. In clinical trials, it states what the study will do, how it will be done, and why it is being done. It describes the number of participants, eligibility, treatments, tests performed and the information to be collected.
Quantification: To determine, express or measure the quantity of.
Radiographic: Having to do with radiologic exams or x-rays.
Recur: To come back or return.
Recurrent cancer: The return of cancer, at the same site as the original primary tumor or in another location, usually after a period of time when the cancer could not be detected.
Regimen: Treatment plan that specifies the dosage, the schedule, and the duration of the treatment.
Regression: A decrease in the size or extent of the tumor.
Relapse: The return of signs and symptoms of cancer after a period of improvement.
Relative risk: A measure of the risk of a certain event happening in one group compared to the risk of the same event happening in another group.
Remission: A decrease in or disappearance of signs and symptoms of cancer, usually occurring as the result of therapy. Remission is also the period when the disease is under control. A remission is not necessarily a cure and may be permanent or temporary.
Resection: Surgical removal of part or all of an organ.
Risk factor: Something that increases a person's chances of developing cancer, for example smoking and lung cancer.
Sarcoma: A malignant tumor of the bone, muscles or connective tissue.
Screening: Checking for disease when there are no symptoms.
Sentinel node biopsy: Examination of the first lymph node that receives lymphatic drainage from a tumor to determine whether that node does or does not have tumor cells within it.
Side effects: Secondary effects of drugs used for treating disease.
Stable disease: Cancer that is not decreasing or increasing in extent or severity.
Stage, staging: Staging is a process to describe the extent of a cancer and whether it has spread. Critically important for patient management, staging has prognostic value and helps determine the therapeutic course. Staging involves a physical exam, blood tests, X-rays, imaging and sometimes surgery.
Supine: Lying on the back.
Systemic disease: A disease that affects the entire body rather than a specific organ.
Thoracotomy: Surgical procedure to open the chest.
TNM staging: A system for describing the extent of cancer in a patient's body. T describes the size of the tumor and whether it has invaded nearby tissue. N describes any lymph nodes that are involved. M describes metastatic disease.
Tumor: A lump, mass or swelling of abnormal cells. A tumor can be either benign or malignant.
A tumor that does not have specialized structures or functions under the microscope, and does not resemble the tissue of origin.
Introduction of a radioactive tracer to the patient and its distribution and concentration into various tissues.
Puncturing a vein with a needle in order to obtain a blood sample, to start an intravenous drip or to give medication.
A procedure whereby a triangle-shaped slice of tissue is removed surgically.
Under the microscope, a well-differentiated tumor resembles normal tissue from the same organ.
X-ray: A type of high-energy radiation. In low doses x-rays are used to diagnose disease and in high doses they are used to treat cancer.