Describes an illness that arises suddenly, then subsides after a short period of time. Brief and severe.
A cancer that involves the cells lining the walls of many different organs of the body. It starts in glandular tissue or has a gland-like appearance.
A benign tumour (not a cancer) that starts in gland tissue or has a gland-like appearance.
A treatment given with, or shortly after, another treatment to enhance its effectiveness.
Triangular glands, which cover the top of each kidney. The glands produce adrenaline and some other hormones.
Cancer that has spread and/or is unlikely to be cured.
Tissue from a matched donor.
Loss of hair from the head or body. Alopecia often occurs as a result of chemotherapy. Hair lost in this way usually regrows after treatment is completed.
A drug given to stop a person feeling pain. A ‘local’ anaesthetic numbs part of the body; a ‘general’ anaesthetic causes temporary loss of consciousness.
A drug that relieves pain.
The formation of new blood vessels to support tissue. Angiogenesis enables tumours to develop their own blood supply, which helps them to survive and grow.
An x-ray of blood vessels. A dye is injected which makes the blood vessels show up on the x-rays, and any abnormal vessels can be seen.
A drug, for example, penicillin, used to treat infection caused by bacteria or fungi.
Antibodies are proteins made by the blood to destroy or help destroy invaders (antigens) in the body.
A substance that prevents blood clotting.
A drug that helps to control nausea and vomiting.
A drug used to treat or prevent fungal infections.
A substance that causes the immune system to respond. Common antigens include viruses, bacteria, foreign cells, pollen, and dust.
The process in which blood is collected, one or more parts of it removed, and the blood transfused back into the body.
Blocking an artery to stop the flow of blood, for example to stop a tumour growing.
A blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart.
A slowly progressing lung disease caused by asbestos. It is not cancer.
A build-up of fluid in the abdomen, making it swollen and bloated, which can be caused by the presence of cancer within the abdominal cavity.
Removing fluid from the body with a needle and syringe.
The wasting away of an organs and tissues.
atypical ductal hypertrophy (ADH)
A non-cancerous condition of the cells in the lining of the milk ducts in the breast. Cells have abnormal features and are increased in number.
Tissue from oneself.
axilla (adj. axillary/ axillary lymph nodes)
Armpit. Axillary lymph nodes are located in and near the armpit.
Removal of some lymph nodes in the armpit, to check whether cancer has spread.
bacteria (sing. bacterium)
Single-cell microorganisms which live in soil, water, air, plants, animals and humans. Many do not harm us, and some are helpful. But some cause disease by producing poisons.
Barium sulphate is passed into the lower bowel through the anus. X-rays are then taken and the barium clearly outlines the bowel, showing up any abnormalities.
basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
Cancer affecting basal cells of the skin.
Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, a bacterium similar to the one responsible for tuberculosis, which is used to treat some bladder cancers.
Not cancerous. Benign cells do not spread like cancer cells.
benign fibrocystic changes
Non-cancerous changes within the breast that can cause lumpiness, thickening or tenderness.
benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
A non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.
In clinical trials, means human choices or other factors beside the treatments being tested can affect a study’s results. Clinical trials use many methods to avoid bias, because biased results may not be correct.
bilateral salpingo oophorectomy
Surgical removal of both ovaries and Fallopian tubes.
A fluid made in the liver and stored in the gall bladder. Also known as ‘gall’. It helps the digestion of fats.
The duct through which bile from the liver passes to the duodenum.
The removal of a small sample of tissue from the body for examination under a microscope to help diagnose a disease.
Drugs that help to make weak bones stronger and less likely to break and treat the pain caused by some bone cancers.
The surgical creation of a new ‘bladder’ from part of the bowel.
A method used to prevent bias in treatment studies. In a single blind study, the patient is not told whether he or she is taking the best standard treatment or the new treatment being tested. Only the doctors know. In a double blind study, neither the patient nor the doctor knows.
The soft, spongy tissue in the centre of your large bones that produces white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.
bone marrow biopsy
The removal of a small amount of bone marrow for examination under the microscope.
bone marrow transplantation
see stem cell transplantation.
Images that can show cancers, other abnormalities and infection in bone. When a mildly radioactive substance is injected, cancerous areas in the bone show up on pictures taken with a special camera. Most of the radioactive material is gone from the body within a few hours.
A form of radiotherapy where the radiation source is placed in the area being treated.
A silicone gel-filled or saline-filled sac placed under the chest muscle to restore breast shape.
The surgical rebuilding of a breast after mastectomy (removal of the breast). This may be done at the time of the original mastectomy operation or some time later.
The tiny tubes that carry air to the outer parts of the lungs.
bronchiolo-alveolar cell carcinoma
A type of lung cancer which begins in the bronchioles.
An examination in which a tube is passed through the nose or mouth into the lungs to look for disease and sample tissue, if necessary.
bronchus (pl. bronchi)
Any of the larger tubes that carry air in the lungs.
A substance sometimes produced by a tumour. The level of this ‘tumour marker’ in the blood can show whether a treatment is working.
Small deposits of calcium seen as dots on a mammogram.
carcinogen (adj. carcinogenic)
Any substance that can cause cancer.
Cancer that starts in epithelial tissue, that is, the tissue that forms the base of the skin and the lining of the body’s inner surfaces (lungs, bowel, reproductive organs, etc).
carcinoma in situ
Cancer that involves only the cells in which it began and has not spread to nearby tissues.
A flexible tube inserted into a narrow opening so that fluids can be introduced or removed.
Destroying tissue by burning.
The ‘building blocks’ of the body. A human is made of millions of cells, which are adapted for different functions.
A catheter placed into a vein in the chest. Also called a venous access device.
central nervous system (CNS)
The brain and spinal cord.
Of either the neck or the cervix, the ‘neck’ of the uterus.
see Pap Test.
The lower part of the uterus that extends into the vagina.
A combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Describes an illness that continues over a long time, with slow changes.
chronic lymphoid leukaemia (CLL)
A leukaemia that affects the lymphocytes. Develops more slowly than acute lymphoid leukaemia.
Research studies that involve people. Each study tries to answer scientific questions and find better ways to prevent or treat disease.
A test to examine the bowel. A long, slim, flexible tube, with a light attached, is inserted through the anus and examines the bowel.
A cancer that starts on the inside wall of the bowel, usually affecting the colon or rectum (large bowel).
An opening into the colon from the outside of the body. A colostomy provides a new path for waste material to leave the body after the colon has been removed.
The examination of the vagina and cervix with a magnifying instrument, called a colposcope, to check these tissues for abnormal cells.
Existing from birth. Congenital diseases or deformities may have been contracted in the womb or may have been passed on genetically by either or both parents.
In a clinical trial, the group of people that receives the best standard treatment for their cancer.
core needle biopsy
Removal of tiny pieces of tissue using a needle, under local anaesthetic, so the tissue may be examined under a microscope.
A type of surgery to the skull where pieces of bone are removed so the surgeon may gain access to the brain. The pieces of bone are not replaced.
The surgical removal of a portion of the skull.
The technique for constructing pictures from cross-sections of the body, by x-raying the part of the body to be examined from many angles.
An abnormal sac or closed cavity in the body filled with liquid or semi-solid material.
Surgical removal of the bladder.
An instrument that allows the doctor to see inside the bladder. It also allows removal of tissue samples or small tumours. Cystoscopy is the name for this procedure.
Drugs that damage or destroy cells. Cytotoxic drugs are used in chemotherapy, to treat cancer.
Describes the discovery of an abnormality or disease in the body. ‘Early detection’ is the discovery of an abnormality at an early stage when it is more likely to be cured.
The identification and naming of a person’s disease.
The organs that are responsible for getting food into and out of the body and for making use of food to keep the body healthy. These include the stomach, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, small bowel, colon and rectum.
digital rectal examination (DRE)
A way to diagnose prostate abnormalities: the doctor places a gloved finger into your rectum and feels the prostate through the rectum wall.
A substance that increases the volume of urine produced.
In tissue transplantation, the person giving tissue or organ for transplanting. The person receiving it is the host.
A small tube in the body, usually one that carries the substances secreted from glands.
The most common type of breast cancer, beginning in the cells that line the milk ducts in the breast. Also called intraductal carcinoma.
ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
Abnormal cells in the breast ducts, which over time could develop into breast cancer.
The first part of the small bowel. It receives bile from the gall bladder and pancreatic juice from the pancreas.
An alteration in size, shape and arrangement of normal cells. Dysplastic cells are abnormal but are not cancerous. They may progress into cancer.
A mole whose appearance is different from that of a normal mole.
early prostate cancer
Also known as localised prostate cancer. Cancer which is confined to the prostate, and has not started to spread.
The use of electrodes, which are devices (like wires) that conduct electricity, to remove diseased tissue, like tumours.
Tissue that secretes hormones
A doctor specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of hormone disorders.
see uterine cancer.
Glandular lining of the inside of the uterus that is stimulated by the hormones oestrogen and progesterone and shed each month as the ‘period’.
Using a thin, lighted tube, inserted into a body opening, to look at tissues inside the body. [Many endoscopes can also be used to take a sample of tissue for biopsy, or to remove small growths.
endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP)
A procedure using an endoscope which allows the doctor to see the pancreas and bile duct. Some dye is injected into these organs so that they will show up on x-ray pictures.
When transplanted bone marrow begins to produce red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
Cutting out tissue, an organ or a tumour from the body.
Refers to the process of secreting outwardly through a duct to the surface of an organ or tissue. The exocrine pancreas is the tissue that secretes enzymes which help digest food.
A test result that wrongly indicates that a particular disease or condition is present.
Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
A hereditary condition that causes hundreds of small growths (polyps) in the bowel of the person affected. If left untreated, FAP always turns into bowel cancer.
A solid, benign lump (not a cancer).
fibrocytic breast disease
see benign fibrocystic changes.
A benign tumour (not a cancer) that forms in connective tissue.
A malignant tumour (a cancer) that starts in connective tissue.
fine needle biopsy
A procedure in which a fine needle is used to suck up a few cells from a tumour, for biopsy.
A sample of fresh tissue is quickly frozen until it is hard enough to cut into sections. These can be stained so that a rapid diagnosis can be made, for example, while a patient is under anaesthetic.
A form of radiation, different from x-rays. Gamma rays are commonly used in radiotherapy and also in some radioisotope scans to treat cancer.
A surgical operation that removes all or part of the stomach
An instrument for examining the inside of the stomach. It is a long, hollow tube with a light attached. It can project magnified pictures of the inside of the stomach, and instruments can be inserted through the tube, if needed.
The tiny factors that control the way the body’s cells grow and behave. Each person has a set of many thousands of genes inherited from both parents. Genes are found in every cell of the body.
gland (adj. glandular)
An organ or group of cells that makes certain fluids (hormones, saliva, sweat) that are used in the body or excreted.
A system for grading prostate cancer tumours according to size and severity, depending on how the tumour cells look under a microscope.
A type of malignant brain tumour.
Any tumour that starts in the connective tissue (the glia) of the nervous system.
Healthy tissue taken from one part of the body to replace diseased or injured tissue. The transplantation may come from one part of a person’s body to another, or from another person.
granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF)
A substance that stimulates the growth and maturation of granulocytes, a type of white blood cell.
A substance that stimulates cells to reproduce and rapidly multiply.
The branch of medicine that studies the blood. A doctor specialising in diseases of the blood is called a haematologist.
blood in the urine.
A bacteria that causes inflammation and ulcers in the stomach.
hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC)
A condition in some families where the tendency to develop bowel cancer is inherited. About 1% of all bowel cancer is due to HNPCC.
The study cells and tissues using a microscope.
hormone (adj. hormonal)
A substance made by a gland, which helps to regulate and coordinate growth, metabolism and reproduction. Carried in the bloodstream.
I ndicators on the surface of some cancer cells that suggest the cancer depends on hormones to help it grow, and it may thus respond to hormone therapy: see oestrogen receptor test, progesterone receptor test.
Treatment that changes hormone levels.
In tissue transplantation, the person receiving a transplanted tissue or organ.
A building up of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain.
An abnormally high level of calcium in the blood.
The increased production of normal cells in a part of the body.
1. Greatly increased body temperature. 2. The use of heat to kill cancer cells.
The surgical removal of the uterus and the cervix.
A small ‘pouch’ created from a piece of the bowel to hold urine. It takes the place of the bladder. A stoma allows urine collected in the ileal conduit to flow into a bag.
Similar to a colostomy, but the operation brings part of the small bowel to an opening in the abdomen.
The lowest of the three parts of the small bowel.
A complex network of cells and organs that defends the body against attacks by ‘foreign’ invaders, like infection. It recognises the difference between normal cells and cancer cells and ‘fights’ cancer cells.
Weakening of the immune system, caused by some diseases and treatments.
Medically-induced or disease-related suppression of the immune system.
Loss of bladder or bowel control.
A type of breast cancer that usually presents with a noticeable warmth and reddening of the breast skin. There may also be puckering of the skin and swelling of the breast.
The process is which a person learns key facts about a clinical trial or research study or medical procedure and then agrees voluntarily to take part or decides against it. This process includes signing a form that describes the benefits and risks that may occur if the person decides to take part.
A slow injection of a substance into a vein or other tissue.
Substances produced by the body that can help the immune system fight cancer. Interferons can also slow the growth of cancer cells or make them act like normal cells. These substances can be made in a laboratory and used in immunotherapy.
Substances produced by the body that can help the immune system to fight cancer. Interleukins stimulate the growth of the white blood cells that can kill cancer cells. These substances can be made in a laboratory and used in immunotherapy.
A form of radiotherapy, where radiation in sealed applicators is put into the body at or near the cancer.
The most common type of breast cancer, begins in the cells that line the milk ducts in the breast. Also called ductal carcinoma.
Into a vein. An intravenous drip gives fluids and/or drugs directly into a vein.
Chemotherapy in a fluid, which is put into the bladder through a tube into the urethra.
A cancer that has started to invade the tissues surrounding it.
The use of radiation in the treatment of disease.
A disease caused by increased amounts of bile in the blood. This causes the skin and the whites of the eyes to turn yellow. It also causes tiredness and loss of appetite.
One of three portions of the small bowel, below the duodenum and leading into the ileum.
Operation in which a long cut is made in the abdomen to examine the internal organs; also sometimes called an exploratory operation.
large cell carcinoma
A type of lung cancer that usually develops in the airways and is characterised by large rounded cells.
Cancer of the larynx.
The surgical removal of the larynx or voice box. After a laryngectomy, the person breathes through a tracheostomy, a permanent opening at the base of the neck. In a partial laryngectomy, only part of the larynx is removed.
The voice box, or Adam’s apple, which sits in the front of the neck. It contains the vocal cords. During swallowing, the vocal cords close together to prevent food and saliva entering the windpipe. They also vibrate together to produce voice.
An instrument that produces an intense beam of light used in surgical procedures. It can work on a very small area with great precision without damaging surrounding tissue. It can be used to remove abnormal cells.
Removal of an area of tissue using a device that produces a very thin beam of light in which high energies are concentrated.
Any abnormality in tissue of the body.
leukocyte (or leukocyte)
see white blood cell.
A reduction in the number of white blood cells in the blood.
A cancer that forms in fat cells.
Images of the liver that can show abnormalities, including tumours. A radioactive substance is injected, and travels to the liver where it collects, especially in abnormal areas. A special camera can identify these areas.
A surgical operation to remove a lobe.
lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
Abnormal cells in the lobes of the breast.
localised prostate cancer
Cancer which has not spread away from the prostate. Also called early prostate cancer.
A procedure where a needle is put into the area around the spinal cord and fluid taken for examination under a microscope, or anti-cancer drugs introduced.
The removal of a breast lump and some surrounding tissue, to treat breast cancer.
lung function tests
see pulmonary function tests.
A clear fluid that flows through the lymphatic system and carries cells that help to fight disease and infection.
see lymph nodes.
lymph node dissection
Some lymph nodes near the site of the cancer are removed by surgery and examined to see if they contain cancer cells. Also know as lymphadanectomy.
Small, bean-shaped structures which form part of the lymphatic system. The lymph nodes filter the lymph to remove bacteria and other harmful agents, such as cancer cells. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system. It is a network of small lymph nodes connected by very thin lymph vessels, which branch into every part of the body.
The lymphatic system is part of the immune system, which protects the body against ‘invaders’, like bacteria and parasites. The lymphatic system is a network of small lymph nodes connected by very thin lymph vessels, which branch into every part of the body.
A type of white blood cell formed in lymphatic tissue. It is involved in immune reactions.
Swelling caused by a build-up of lymph; this happens when there is insufficient draining in lymphatic vessels or lymph nodes, and can occur following some cancer treatments.
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
A diagnostic test that uses a combination of magnetism and radio waves to build up detailed cross-section pictures (or images) of part of a person’s body. The test involves lying on a couch inside a metal cylinder (which forms a very large magnet) that is open at both ends. It may take up to one hour to complete, but is completely painless.
Cancerous. A malignant tumour is the same as a cancer. It tends to spread, and eventually causes death if it is not treated.
An x-ray of the breast, which uses low doses of radiation. It can be used to find a cancer in the breast before it can actually be felt (screening mammogram), or to help to diagnose a breast problem (diagnostic mammogram).
The surgical removal of a breast or part of a breast to treat breast cancer. Radical mastectomy is rarely done now. The operation most frequently performed is the modified radical mastectomy in which the entire breast and some lymph nodes in the armpit are removed, but no muscle. In subcutaneous mastectomy the breast tissue is removed but the skin and nipple are left, and can later be used to reconstruct the breast: see breast reconstruction.
The area in the chest cavity between the lungs. It contains the heart and large blood vessels, the oesophagus, the trachea and many lymph nodes.
Cells in the epidermis and elsewhere that produce melanin.
Cancer of the melanocytes. The cancer usually appears on the skin, but may affect the eye and mucous membranes. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation contributes to the development of melanoma.
A slow-growing tumour that arises in the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Some meningiomas are malignant.
Also known as ‘secondaries’. Tumours or masses of cells that develop when cancer cells break away from the original (primary) cancer and are carried by the lymphatic and blood systems to other parts of the body.
Tiny flecks of calcium that may be present in the breast that will show up on a mammograms. A cluster of microcalcifications suggests that breast cancer may be present.
A term that loosely describes any pigmented (coloured), fleshy growth on the skin.
Monoclonal protein (also known as myeloma protein). A paraprotein, which is a substance produced when plasma cells multiply abnormally, as they do in multiple myeloma. At high levels, it can be detected in the blood and urine. Doctors can monitor paraprotein levels to see if treatments are working.
see magnetic resonance imaging
Cancer that arises in plasma cells.
A change in the genetic material of a cell. This may occur spontaneously or be caused by something outside the cell (a mutagen).
Of the bone marrow.
see multiple myeloma.
Where the lymph nodes in the neck and some of the surrounding structures (including muscle) are removed.
Surgical removal of a kidney. A partial nephrectomy removes the part of the kidney affected by cancer; a radical nephrectomy also removes the adrenal gland, surrounding fatty tissue and nearby lymph nodes, if they have been affected by cancer.
A new growth of benign or malignant tissue.
A malignant tumour or cancer that occurs in children which starts in immature nerve cells.
A benign tumour of the cells and tissues that cover nerves.
A slow-growing benign tumour (not a cancer) growing from a nerve cell.
A swelling or lump that may be benign or malignant.
Cancer of the lymphatic system.
oat cell carcinoma
see small cell carcinoma.
Swelling caused by an excessive accumulation of fluid in the tissues of the body.
oestrogen receptor test
A test to see if a cancer relies on the hormone oestrogen to grow. If so, may respond to hormone therapy: see hormone receptors. Also called oestrogen receptor assay.
A benign bone tumour (not a cancer); a bony lump or swelling most commonly found in the skull, jaw and limbs.
Cancer of the bone, that most often develops in a leg or arm bone. Also called osteogeneic sarcoma.
A swelling containing fluid in the region of the ovary. Most are benign, but a few are cancerous. An ovarian cyst may become quite large (orange or grapefruit sized) before displaying any symptoms or causing discomfort.
Treatment which aims to promote comfort, relieve symptoms and maximise quality of life, when cure is no longer possible.
Part of the digestive system. It produces insulin, and enzymes which help in digestion.
The partial or total removal of the pancreas by surgery.
Cancer of the pancreas.
A test that can detect changes in cervical cells. Some cells are scraped off the cervix and sent to a laboratory for examination under a microscope.
A benign growth (not a cancer) that may occur on the skin or on a mucous membrane. Papillomas may also occur in the bladder and in the milk ducts of the breast. Warts are a type of papilloma.
The surgical removal of part of a kidney.
patient-controlled analgaesia (PCA)
Pain relief that patients can control themselves. The person can press a small device that will deliver a dose of a pain-relief drug through an intravenous drip drip.
peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC)
A catheter that is inserted into a vein in the arm.
peritoneum (adj. peritoneal)
Membrane that lines the wall of the abdomen and covers the organs within it.
PET (position emission topography) scan
A technique that is used to build up clear and detailed pictures of the body. The person is injected with a glucose solution containing a very small amount of radioactive material. The scanner can ‘see’ the radioactive substance. Damaged or cancerous cells show up as areas where the glucose is being used.
The fluid portion of blood in which the blood cells and platelets are suspended.
A procedure to remove some constituents or elements from the blood, when the paraprotein level is high and interfering with blood circulation.
A process to separate certain cells from the plasma, to treat complications of disease.
Components of blood involved in the blood’s ability to clot.
The removal by surgery of an entire lung.
An abnormal growth, which is usually benign, that grows from a mucous membrane.
A condition that may become a cancer if it is not treated.
A malignant tumour (a cancer) starts in one site of the body where it is known as the primary tumour. At a later stage, cancer cells may break away from it and be carried to other parts of the body, where they may lodge and increase to form secondary tumours or metastases.
An assessment of the possible future course and outcome of a person’s disease.
The gland that sits just below the bladder and opens into the urethra. It produces a fluid that forms part of semen.
Surgical removal of the prostate gland.
prostate-specific antigen (PSA)
A protein normally produced by prostate cells. Tests of PSA levels are used to diagnose prostate cancer.
An artificial replacement for a part of the body, such as an arm, leg, breast, eye, tooth and so on.
A formal, detailed treatment plan used for groups of people with similar medical problems. Doctors follow set treatment protocols so that the results of different types of treatment can be compared, and the natural course of a disease may be better understood.
see prostate-specific antigen.
Of the lungs.
pulmonary function tests
Tests that measure the amount of air moving in and out of the lungs during breathing, and evaluate the person’s ability to get oxygen from the air into the blood. The tests can also indicate whether there is an obstruction in the air passages. Also called lung function tests.
Energy in the form of waves or particles including gamma rays, x-rays and ultraviolet rays. This energy can injure or destroy cells by damaging their genetic material. This ability is ‘harnessed for good’ when it is used in radiotherapy.
A doctor who specialises in the use of x-rays and other forms of radiation to treat cancers as well as other conditions.
Surgery for people with bladder cancer. For women, the operation removes the bladder and may also remove the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, front of the vagina and urethra. In men, it removes the bladder, prostate gland and urethra.
Surgery that removes the whole breast, lymph nodes and the chest muscles under the breast. This was the favoured surgery for breast cancer until a decade or so ago, but is rarely done now.
The main form of treatment for kidney cancer. It removes the diseased kidney and ? if they are also diseased ? the adrenal gland, surrounding fatty tissue and nearby lymph nodes.
An operation that removes the prostate, part of the urethra, a small part of the vas deferens and the seminal vesicles. This is usually done through a cut in the lower abdomen
An operation that removes a tumour plus surrounding tissue and lymph nodes. The term usually refers to extensive surgery aimed at completely curing the disease.
A radiation source is placed directly into or around a cancer within the body to enable the radiation it gives off to kill the cancer cells. Implants are most commonly used for cancers of the cervix, uterus (womb), breast, mouth, and prostate.
Iodine that gives off radiation.
The use of radiation and other imaging technologies to diagnose and treat disease.
The use of high-energy radiation, usually x-rays or gamma rays, to kill cancer cells or injure them so they cannot grow and multiply. Radiotherapy can also harm normal cells, but they are able to repair themselves. Sometimes called radiation therapy.
Surgery to rebuild part of the body that has been altered or removed, for example, by previous surgery.
recurrent/ recurring cancer
A cancer that grows from the cells of a primary cancer which escaped treatment. Recurrent cancer may appear up to twenty years after the primary cancer was treated, depending on the type of cancer.
red blood cells
Blood cells that contain haemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood.
The spread of cancer from its original site to nearby areas.
Programs that help restore people to independence and a full, productive life after illness or injury. Rehabilitation may involve physical restoration such as the use of prostheses, physiotherapy, occupational therapy programs and/or speech pathology, counselling and emotional support, and employment retraining.
The return of a disease after a period of improvement or remission.
The decrease or disappearance of signs and symptoms of a disease. A patient is said to be in complete remission when there is no evidence of active disease.
renal cell carcinoma
The most common form of kidney cancer. Cancerous cells develop in the lining of the kidney’s tubules, tiny waste-carrying tubes within the kidney.
A rare form of cancer that affects the connective tissues of the kidney.
The surgical removal of part of an organ or another structure.
salivary gland cancer
A cancer of the salivary glands commonly the parotid glands.
A malignant tumour (a cancer) that starts in connective tissue.
Examining and/or testing a large number of people who have no symptoms of a particular disease, to identify anyone who may have that disease. This enables the disease to be treated at an early stage, when cure is more likely. Examples include pap tests to detect precancerous changes of the cervix, and mammography, to screen women for early breast cancers.
A cancer of the testes.
A lymph node that a tumour drains into through the lymphatic system.
The clear liquid portion of blood that is left if the blood cells, platelets and clotting substances (including fibrinogen) are removed. If the clotting substances are not removed, the clear fluid is called plasma.
Many drugs (medicines) or treatments may affect the patient in ways other than and in addition to those intended. These are side effects. Some side effects are not a problem, but some are unpleasant, for example, chemotherapy may cause hair loss, radiotherapy and chemotherapy may cause nausea.
Examination of the rectum and first part of the colon using a sigmoidoscope, a long flexible tube with a light at the end that is inserted gently through the anus: see endoscope.
A machine that takes x-rays that help to pinpoint where radiotherapy should be targeted.
The most common form of cancer in Australia . It affects all age groups from adolescence upwards. Skin cancer rates in Australia are higher than anywhere else in the world. There are three main types: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. All start in different parts of the outer layer of skin.
small cell carcinoma
A type of lung cancer that is strongly associated with cigarette smoking. It spreads early and causes few initial symptoms.
see pap smear.
An organ in the upper part of the abdomen on the left side, below and behind the stomach. The spleen produces lymphocytes, filters blood, stores blood and destroys cells that are ageing. It can mount an immune response to infections in the blood system.
Surgical removal of the spleen.
squamous cell carcinoma
Cancer affecting squamous cells, which cover internal and external surfaces of the body.
Investigations to find out how far a cancer has progressed. This is important in planning the best treatment.
The best treatment currently known for a cancer, based on results of past research.
Immature cells from which blood cells evolve, which grow in bone marrow.
stem cell transplantation
Replaces stem cells that have been destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. The stem cells are replaced after treatment to help the bone marrow recover and continue producing healthy blood cells.
An artificial opening of the bowel, which is brought to the surface of the abdomen.
When the mucous membrane lining the mouth becomes inflamed and ulcers form.
Surgical removal of breast tissue from beneath the skin, in which the skin and nipple remain in place: see mastectomy.
A drug that blocks the effect of oestrogen in cancer cells, for women with oestrogen-receptive and progesterone-receptive cancers.
A disease that cannot be cured and will cause death.
A decrease in the number of platelets in the blood which causes blood to take longer than usual to clot when there is bleeding.
A gland at the base of the neck. It secretes hormones that control metabolism.
A collection of similar cells.
Tissue typing is done when a bone marrow or organ transplant is being planned. It involves looking at the tissues of both the potential donor and the person receiving the transplant to measure how compatible they are.
total body irradiation
Radiotherapy to the entire body so that, theoretically, all cells in the body receive the same amount (or dose) of radiation.
A surgical operation in which a hole is made at the base of the neck into the windpipe (trachea), in order to create a clear airway.
transrectal ultrasound (TRUS)
A procedure in which an ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum so that ultrasound scans of the prostate can be made.
transurethral resection (TUR)
Surgery via the urethra to remove blockages in the urinary tract.
A new or abnormal growth of tissue in or on the body.
A substance sometimes produced by a tumour. The level of a tumour marker in the blood can be a useful way to determine whether a treatment is working.
An operation to create an opening from inside the body to the outside, making a new way to pass urine.
Cancer of the vagina. It is uncommon, but is sometimes found in women whose mothers took the drug diethylstilboestrol (DES) during pregnancy.
venous access device (VAD)
A catheter placed into a vein for the duration of treatment. Drugs can be delivered through the VAD, and blood withdrawn.
white blood cells
Also known as leucocytes. The white blood cells play a major role in defending the body against infection.
A rare cancer that affects children. It can arise anywhere in the kidneys and can spread to the bowel and liver. It is one of the most curable of childhood cancers.