Glossary

Adenocarcinoma

Cancer that starts in glandular tissue i.e., breast, lung, thyroid, colon, cervix and pancreas.

Adjuvant chemotherapy

One or more drugs used in cancer treatment after surgery or radiation to help prevent recurrence or metastasis.

Antiemetic

Medicine for curbing nausea and vomiting.

Benign

A swelling or growth that is not cancerous and does not spread and usually is not life-threatening.

Biopsy

A procedure in which tissue or fluid is taken and examined with a microscope.

Carcinogen

An agent that initiates or promotes cancer.

Carcinoma

Cancer that originates in the epithelial tissue, 80% to 90% of cancers.

Chemotherapy

Treatment of cancer with drugs. Certain types of cancers, such as Hodgkin's disease, and some non-Hodgkin's lymphomas and leukemias respond well to chemotherapy. Side effects are described in patients' informed consent forms.

Clinical trials

Treatment for cancer with new experimental drugs or procedures. You must give an informed consent. Clinical trials provide opportunity for treatment that may be more effective or not yet widely available. The National Cancer Institute provides information at 800-4-CANCER.

Estrogen receptor test

Test on breast tissue to determine if a tumor is sensitive to the hormone estrogen.

Grading

A way of describing the aggressiveness of cancer cells.

Hospice care

Care offering comfort, pain control and emotional support for those with terminal illnesses. It is usually provided in the home or in a special hospital or unit of a hospital.

Immunotherapy

Use of highly purified proteins to activate the immune system.

In Situ

Early stage cancer confined to the place it started.

Lymph nodes

Bean-shaped organs in the lymphatic system, the system that fights infections. Cancer cells can travel through the lymphatic system. Removing and examining lymph nodes near the tumor can help find the extent of disease and help classify tumors by stage.

Lymphedema

Swelling of a limb as a result of damage to lymphatic vessels or removal of lymph nodes.

Lymphoma

Tumor starting in lymphatic tissue (neck, groin or armpit).

Mastectomy

Surgical removal of the breast.

Melanoma

Highly aggressive form of skin cancer.

Metastasis

Spread of cancer from a primary tumor to other parts of the body.

Myeloma

Cancer of plasma cells in bone marrow.

Oncologist

Doctor specializing in cancer.

Palliative care

Therapy for relieving symptoms and providing comfort, rather than prolonging life.

Primary tumor

Site where tumor first appeared.

Prognosis

Prediction of what might happen in a specific case.

Rad

Unit of measurement that describes a dose or radiation absorbed by a body. The average American receives .36 rads a year, half of which comes from natural sources.

Recurrence

Return of cancer cells after remission.

Regression

Growing smaller or disappearing.

Remission

Disappearance of cancer symptoms.

Sarcoma

Malignant tumor arising in the bone, cartilage, fibrous tissue or muscle.

Stem cell

All blood cells arising in the bone marrow.

Survivor

Anyone who has received a cancer diagnosis, whether treatment is being received or has been completed.

Taxol

Cancer drug from the Pacific Yew tree used to treat ovarian cancer.

Tissue

Group of cells.

Tumor

A benign or malignant abnormal mass of tissue.