Glossary (Bibliography)

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ABMT Autologous Bone Marrow Transplant: 
ACE Chemotherapy regimen adriamycin (doxorubicin), cyclophosphomide and etoposide.
AC Chemotherapy regimen adriamycin (doxorubicin), cyclophosphomide
AC-taxotere Chemotherapy regimen adriamycin (doxorubicin), cyclophosphomide then taxotere
AC-taxol Chemotherapy regimen adriamycin (doxorubicin), cyclophosphomide then taxol
Acute Occurring suddenly, or sharply over a short period of time
Adenocarcinoma Refers to a cancer that arises from cells of glandular (secretory) tissue.
Adjuvant chemotherapy This refers to any therapy used after primary treatment to reduce the risk of the cancer recurring.
AFP Alpha-fetoprotein: A protein that is sometimes present in the blood of patients that have testicular cancer.
ALA Abbreviation for aminoleulinic acid. This compound is converted into a fluorescent compound inside cells. Normal cells eliminate this compound, but renal cancer cells, glioblastoma and bladder cancer cells do not. This causes these cancer cells to fluoresce under a xenon light, making them easier to distinguish from normal cells, and therefore easier to remove surgically.
ALND Axillairy lymph node dissection: A surgical technique used to identify the presence of metastases (cancer) in lymph nodes of the armpit near a tumour.
Alopecia Loss of hair.
Alternative therapies These are therapies that are used instead of current medical therapies. For a more complete definition please see the section of this web site on complementary and alternative therapies.
AML Acute myeloblastic leukaemia. A form of blood cancer (leukaemia) where immature myeloid blood cells grow excessively. It is more common in adults than in children. See section on leukaemia.
Anaemia Low red blood cell count or lack of red blood cells, resulting in weakness and lack of oxygen in the organs.
Angiogenesis The generation of blood vessels.
Aredi A medicine (Pamidronate) used to reduce the blood level of calcium, also known to inhibit the function of osteoclasts (cells responsible for the turnover of bone).
Arimidex A drug (anastrozole) used to treat breast cancer. It works by lowering the amount of oestrogen produced by the body. It does this by preventing the adrenal glands from producing oestrogen. Arimidex belongs to a class of drugs known as aromatase inhibitors 
Aromasin A drug (exemestane) used to treat breast cancer in post menopasual women. It works by lowering the amount of oestrogen produced by the body. It does this by preventing the adrenal glands from producing oestrogen. It belongs to a class of drugs known as aromatase inhibitors.
Arthralgia  Pain in the joints from any cause
Asbestos  Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral that is mined for its heat resistant properties. Certain asbestos fibres are carcinogenic when inhaled, causing a cancer of the lining of the lung known as mesothelioma. Strict handling procedures are needed when dealing with asbestos to ensure that no dust containing free asbestos fibres is released. One of the most toxic varieties of asbestos is tremolite.
Ascites  An abnormal build up of immunogolbulin (antibody) rich fluid in the abdomen.
Ataxia Clumsiness, dizziness, lack of co-ordination
Axillary Meaning the armpit area
Arcoma A form of cancer that arises in the supportive tissues such as bone, cartilage, fat or muscle
Avastin  Generic name for the monoclonal antibody - bevacizumab, an angiogenesis inhibitor.
Barium enema Barium sulfate is a substance that is opaque to X-rays and it may given as an enema to help visualise the bowel on X-ray films. A Barium enema is a method used to help diagnose bowel cancer.
BCC Basal cell carcinoma: Refers to cancer that arises from cells at the base of the skin. 
bd (or) bid Medical notation for twice per day
Bereavement The term to describe the loss of a friend or relative
Bence Jones Protein A characteristic protein found in the urine of some patients with multiple myeloma. It can be used to help in diagnosis of the disease and to monitor the response to treatment.
Benign  A noncancerous growth. A growth of cells that do not invade other tissues (metastasise) and may be removed by surgery.
Benign tumour A growth or tumour that does not spread and is not cancerous.
Benzyopyrene A highly carcinogenic compound found in tobacco smoke. Benzyopyrene levels may be measured in the urine of smokers.
Betacarotene Betacarotine is a naturally occurring antioxidant which is converted into vitamin A by the body. While its antioxidant properties are believed to reduce the risk of cancer, by neutralising free radicals, in smokers it is believed to increase the risk of lung cancer. Smokers should not take betacarotene supplements.
Biopsy A biopsy is a procedure that involves obtaining a tissue specimen for microscopic analysis to establish a precise diagnosis, it may be done using a needle or surgery.
BNCT BNCT or Boron Neutron Capture Therapy is an experimental type of radiotherapy under investigation in clinical trials. 
Blood transfusion The procees of receiving extra blood via a vein
Bone marrow The soft, spongy tissue found in the centre of most large bones that produces white cells, red cells and platelets.
Bone marrow transplant See ABMT and PBSCT
Bone density scan A test to measure the density or calcium content of bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
Bone scan A test used to see if there are any areas of abnormality (usually cancer) within the bones of your body. 
BPH Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A condition where the prostate gland grows abnormally large but is non cancerous.
BRAC1 BRAC1 is a gene which, when damaged (mutated), places a woman at greater risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer, compared with women who do not have the mutation. In a woman with a BRCA1 mutation, the estimated lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is about 50% compared with about 12% in the general population. A woman who has this mutated gene has a 50% chance of passing on the gene to each of her children. A genetic test is available, but it is recommended only for women who are known to be at risk because several women in their family have had breast or ovarian cancer at an early age (before menopause).
BRAC2 BRAC2 is a gene which, when damaged or mutated, puts the carrier at a much higher risk for developing breast cancer and/or ovarian cancer than the general population. In a woman with a BRCA2 mutation, the estimated lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is 50% - 60%. BRCA2 and BRCA1 together account for about 80% of the breast cancer that occurs in women with strong family histories of the disease. BRCA2 is also thought to raise the risk for breast cancer in men. A genetic test for BRCA2 is available but is only recommended for those with strong family histories of breast or ovarian cancer.
Brachyatherapy  A type of radiotherapy where radioactive pellets, wires or fine needles are temporarily implanted within or close to a tumour. This is done to deliver the radiation directly to the tumour while minimising the damage to surrounding tissue.
Bracken Bracken, or the common fern (Pteridium Spp.) is one of the most common woodland plants in the world. It produces a range of toxic compounds, some of which have been proven to be carcinogenic if ingested. See ptaquiloside.
Breast form This is a term used to describe a breast prosthesis that may be worn inside ones bra following breast surgery.
Broviac A Broviac catheter is a long thin tube which is inserted into a large vein and secured there for up to a few months. Blood samples may be taken and transfusions or medicines given through this tube, thus avoiding needles.
Boron Neutron Capture Therapy Boron Neutron Capture Therapy or BNCT, is an experimental type of radiotherapy under investigation in clinical trials. Briefly, the principle is to localise an element called boron into a tumour (by means of an antibody or other targeting molecule). If a stream of subatomic particles called neutrons is then directed into this area, the boron captures the neutrons and produces a certain type of radiation known as alpha-radiation.. Alpha-radiation can only penetrate a very short distance (one thousandth of a centimetre), so it is very specific and therefore will only produce minor damage to surrounding healthy tissue. This alpha-radiation damages the cancer cell"s DNA so that it can no longer multiply. Currently clinical trials are ongoing using BNCT to treat glioblastoma multiforme (a form of brain cancer) at Studsvik in Sweden, Petten in the Neatherlands, and at the Massachusetts institute of technology in the US. Neutrons are only produced by nuclear reactors, so the clinical trial centre must be attached to a nuclear power station. There are only a few such centres worldwide
Cachexia  A profound state general of ill health characterised by malnutrition and loss of weight.
Carcinogenic  Cancer causing
Carcinogens A range of substances that are known to cause cancer including, asbestos, ionising and UV radiation, tobacco, glasswool, radon gas, certain food moulds (aflatoxin), wood dust and diesel exhaust fumes. See section What is cancer for a comprehensive list of carcinogens.
Carcinoid  Intestinal tumour arising from cells that release messengers that control other cells. E.g. serotonin.
Catheter  A tubular, flexible, surgical instrument for withdrawing fluids from (or introducing fluids into) a cavity of the body.
Cellulitis Inflammation of the skin, most usually based in the extracellular fluid known as lymph.
Chemo  The word "chemo" is a sometimes used by patients rather than saying chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy Term used to describe giving medicine or drugs to treat an illness. Chemotherapy most often refers to anticancer drugs.
CHOP Abbreviation for a chemotherapy regimen consisting of cyclophosphamide, adriamycin (doxorubicin), Oncovin (vincristine) and prednisolone.
CIN  Cervical Intra-epithelial Neoplasia: This is the name given to abnormal cells occurring in the uterine cervix which are not cancerous but may lead to cancer.
Clinical trial A clinical trial is a scientific study involving patient care designed to assess the value of a new treatment or therapy compared to current practice. 
CML Chronic mylogenous leukaemia. A form of leukaemia characterised by
Colonoscopy  Examination of the colon most often using a device called an endoscope.
Colostomy  A colostomy is the term used to describe the opening formed by an operation where the open end of a part of the large bowel is diverted to the surface of the abdomen and secured there to form a new exit for waste matter.
Complementary therapies These are therapies that compliment current medical therapies but do not replace them. For a more complete definition please see the section of this web site on complimentary and alternative therapies.
Control group This term is used to describe the group of patients in a clinical study that do not receive the new treatment. This group is important as only by comparing their progress with those receiving the treatment, can any real benefit be proven.
CT Scan (CAT scan) Computed tomography scan. A computerized x-ray procedure that produces cross-sectional (layer by layer) images of the body. These images are far more detailed than regular x-ray films, and can reveal disease or abnormalities in tissue and bone.
DCIS Ductal Carcinoma in Situ. DSIC is a cancer inside the ducts of breast that has not grown through the wall of the duct into the surrounding tissues. It accounts for approximately 30% if breast cancer in Ireland. Good prognosis is involved with in situ cancers. It is sometimes known as intraductal carcinoma. Treatment is by surgery or a combination of surgery and radiotherapy. Most cases of DCIS are detectable only by mammography.
Deltacotril™  A formulation of the drug prednisolone which is coated to provide less stomach irritation.
Dioxin  Dioxins are a family of highly toxic compounds produced by the breakdown of plastics, polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) and by incineration. The are highly carcinogenic and accumulate in the body fat of living organisms. This is one of the reasons that it is unhealthy to consume large amounts of animal fat.
Diplopia  Double vision
Diuretic A drug or medicine that causes the body to produce more urine, thus excreting waste products and reducing swelling or blood pressure.
Double blind This is a term used to describe the operation of a clinical trial, where neither investigator nor participant knows which patient is receiving the new treatment or the regular treatment. This is done to eliminate any bias in the outcome of the trial.
Doxorubicin An anticancer drug of the anthracycline series, originally derived from Daunorubicin which is naturally produced by a soil dwelling bacterium. Also known as adriamycin.
DRE Digital Rectal Examination. This term describes the physical examination of the rectum, or back passage to check for any abnormalities, such as an enlarged prostate or cancer.
Durogesic™ A strong pain relieving medicine (Fentanyl). It may be administered by a transdermal (across the skin) patch.
Endocrine  Hormones
Endoscope A diagnostic device consisting of a tube containing flexible optic fibres that may be passed into the body, allowing one to see inside. The result may be viewed on a video screen.
Epistaxis Nosebleed
FBC Full blood count:  counting the number of red and white blood cells.
Fibroma A benign (non-cancerous) tumour which consists of fibrous tissues or connective tissue.
Flagyl ™ Flagyl is an antibacterial drug which is used to kill anaerobic bacteria. Its non-brand name is metronidazole. It is used for a wide variety of infections including those that occur in the bones, nervous system, respiratory tract, skin, as well as vaginal and intestinal infections.
Fractionation This is the term used to describe giving radiation over a number of sessions, rather than one large dose during a single session. This works well for treating cancer, as cancer cells are less well able to repair any damage inflicted by radiation, while normal cells repair themselves.
Gleevec™ or Glivec™ This is the trade name for a drug called "imatinib mesylate", which is produced by the Notavaris corporation and used to treat leukaemia (specifically CML). Its mode of action is by inhibiting the function of an mutant enzyme (a tyrosine kinase) produced cells that posess a particular chromosomal mutation (Bcr-Abl gene).
Goserelin A drug (brand name Zoladex) which is administered by injection and used to treat breast or ovarian cancer. This drug functions by inhibiting the production of a hormone called lutanising hormone which
Haemangiolblastoma A rare type of tumour that develops from blood vessel cells
Haematologist  A doctor specailsing in disorders of the blood including cancer.
Haematoma  This term is used to describe the swelling and hardness that sometimes accompanies the collection of blood at the site of a bruise. Haematomas usually disappear within a few weeks but may be drained if causing discomfort.
HER2  Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor type 2: A cell surface receptor found to be over expressed in certain forms of aggressive breast cancer.
Herceptin™  Herceptin is the drug name for a monoclonal antibody raised against a cell surface receptor (HER2) found on certain breast cancer cells. This drug has been used in phase III clinical trials and has provided substantial clinical benefit to HER2-positive, metastatic breast cancer patients.
Hickman line This is the name given to a special type of intravenous line that is inserted into a large vein in the neck. A Hickman line or catheter may stay in place for several months allowing drugs to be given or samples of blood to be drawn off.
Hodgkins Disease A malignant disorder that appears to originate in the lymph nodes and later spreads to the spleen, liver and bone marrow. It occurs mostly in individuals between the ages of 15 and 35 and is characterised by progressive, painless enlargement of the lymph nodes, spleen and general lymph tissue. Diagnosis is confirmed by the identification of giant cells, known as Reed Sternberg cells.
HPV Human Papiloma Virus. A virus responsible for the growth of soft wart-like growths on the genitalia. Certain types of HPV are linked with the development of cervical cancer. HPV is most commonly transmitted via sexual intercourse. Transmission can be prevented by the use of condoms.
Hyperfractionated Radiotherapy given a number of times in smaller doses, rather than one large dose.
Hyperplasia Over growth of the cells of any tissue.
Hyperthyroidism Overactive thyroid gland. This condtion is usually treated with drugs but in other cases it is treated using radioiodine ablation.
Hypertrophy An enlagement of the cells of any tissue
Histopathology Histopathology is the science concerned with the study of microscopic changes in diseased tissues. A scientist called a Histopathologist is specially trained to observe subtle differences in the microscopic structure of cells to determine if disease is present, and how aggressive the disease may be.
Ileostomy  An operation where the open end of a part of the small intestine (ileum) is diverted to the surface of the abdomen and secured there to form a new exit for waste matter.
Incidence This refers to the frequency, or how often a cancer is diagnosed. Incidence is not the same as mortality.
Inguinal  Refers to the groin region.
Interferon  Interferon (brand name Intron A) is a substance normally produced by the body to help fight viral infections. It may be artificially produced in the laboratory and is used as a drug to help stimulate the body"s own immune system to attack cancer cells.
Intravenous  Refers to the administration of medicine directly into a vein.
Intravenous pyelogram (IVP) Intravenous pyelogram, a special kind of x-ray procedure where a dye injected into the bloodstream and travels to the kidneys, ureters and ultimately ends up in the bladder. This procedure helps to clearly outline these organs on an x-ray film, but must be used with caution where kidney damage is suspected or in patients suffering from multiple myeloma, where it may cause kidney failure.
Iscador Is an extract of mistletoe and is thought to boost the body"s immune system. Studies have shown a rise in the number of white blood cells (T-lymphocytes) following injections of Iscador. However, Iscador is toxic and even though it affects the growth of cancer cells in the laboratory, no studies have shown that it has a clear cut effect on the progress of cancer in humans. See mistletoe.
Isotope bone scan In this test a small amount of a mildly radioactive substance is injected into a vein. Abnormal bone absorbs more of the radioactive substance that normal bone. This then shows up on a special type of X-ray film.
IVU (Intravenous urogram) See IVP
JVP Jugular venous pressure
Killer cells Cells in our immune system which flight foreign attack
Lactulose A medicine used to ease constipation (laxative), common brand name Duphalac.
Laparoscopic Cryoablation A new technique which may be used to treat localised tumours by freezing them and causing cell destruction. It has been used to treat localised renal tumours using a freezing probe guided by laporoscopy.
Laparoscopy A minimally invasive surgical technique, where a small incision is made and an optic system is used to direct surgery inside the body.
Laryngectomy The surgical removal of the larynx (voice-box). Most often performed in cases of cancer of the larynx.
Latissimus dorsi flap procedure A method of breast reconstruction that uses the long flat muscle of the back by rotating it to the chest area.
LCIS Lobular Carcinoma in Situ. LCIS is not a cancer in itself, and the majority of women that develop LCIS will not need any treatment. However, a diagnosis of LCIS does mean that there is a increased risk of developing breast cancer later in life. It is therefore recommended that women with LCIS undergo 6-12 monthly breast examinations, and yearly mammograms.
Lesion Any pathological change in a tissue, sometimes cancerous.
LHermittes sign A neurological sign, typified by sharp ‘electric’–type shocks in peripheral nerves. L’Hermitte sign may be produced by bending the clients head forward, resulting in the perception of these shocks. It is associated with a pathological change in the membranous coating of the nerves fibres in the spinal cord. The pathological change to this membranous nerve fibre coating can be caused by trauma (e.g. radiation, chemotherapy, viral infection) or degenerative disease (e.g. multiple sclerosis). It varies in severity from mild to debilitating. Palliation is achieved with medicines like Neurontin, Tegretol etc. The course of the condition is variable, depending in part on the suspected cause or trauma.
Li-Fraumeni syndrome The Li-Fraumeni syndrome is caused by inherited mutations that inactivate the p53 tumor suppressor gene. This results in a very high risk of developing one or more types of cancer that include breast cancer, brain cancer, osteosarcoma, and other sarcomas.
LinAC  Linear Accelerator. A sophisticated external beam radiotherapy machine which has the capabilities of focusing high energy radiation on a particular area of tissue.
LP Lumbar puncture. This is a diagnostic procedure where a sample of spinal fluid must be taken for examination.
Lumbar puncture This is a diagnostic procedure to obtain a specimen of spinal fluid for examination.
Lumpectomy This is a term used to describe the surgical removal of part of the breast.
Lymphoedema  This is the term used to describe a side effect sometimes produced by the surgical removal of lymph nodes or damage to lymph channels caused by radiotherapy or surgery. With lymphoedema, fluid cannot drain effectively from the surrounding tissue, and this can cause swelling and discomfort. Treatment for lymphoedema involves compression bandages, elastic garments, limb positioning, massage and movement.
Lymphoma  Malignant tumour of white blood cells derived from B lymphocytes.
Malignant  This term is used to describe cancer cells that are capable of invading surrounding tissues and traveling to distant parts of the body.
Mammogram An examination of the breast using X-rays. The purpose of this test is to detect breast cancer early. This is because most lumps are not felt by the hand until they are greater that 1cm in diameter.
Marker A term used to describe an physical indicator that may be quantified. It may be a blood component or a cell surface molecule or even a region of DNA along a chromosome. Markers are used to identify blood groups, organ transplant compatibility and even cancer type. Certain markers are identified by microscopy using specialised staining procedures. Alternatively markers may be identified by fluorescent antibodies combined with a technique called flow cytometry.
Massage A form of complimentary therapy, where structured touch can be used to relax, relieve muscle tension and bring about a sense of well-being in the patient. Massage is a very useful form of therapy but must be avoided in certain illnesses and cancers, as it affects the flow of lymph. As with any complimentary therapy you should inform your health care professional before starting any complimentary treatment.
Mastectomy  Surgical removal of the breast.
Melanoma A tumour arising from the malanocyte cells of the skin and other organs. See section on skin cancer.
Mephalan™ An anticancer drug belonging to alkylating class of agents
Mesothelioma  This is a cancer of cells that line the lung, known as the plura, and is often linked to exposure to a certain types of naturally occurring asbestos fibres.
Metastases  Also known as secondary tumours, metastases are cancerous growths at sites distant from the main tumour, that have resulted due to cancer cells migrating.
Micrometastases Metastais that may only be identified by using microscopy and / or pathological staining techniques.
Migration Stimulating Factor (MSF) A type of cytokine released by cells, which promotes cell migration. MSF is believed to play a role in invasion and metastasis of cancer cells.
Mortality This refers to the number of deaths occurring in a particular time period.
MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging. A special imaging technique used to image internal structures of the body, particularly the soft tissues. The MRI machine uses magnetic fields to build up a series of cross sections of the body. While scanning usually takes an hour and is painless, the machine is very noisy. These images are very clear and are particularly good for soft tissue, brain and spinal cord, joints and abdomen. These scans may be used for detecting some cancers or for following their progress.
MST™ A strong pain receiving medicine (Morphine). It is used for the continuous relief of severe pain as this preparation releases the drug slowly.
Multiple myeloma Multiple myeloma is an overgrowth of plasma cells in the bone marrow, resulting in anemia and destruction of bone mass. Ionising radiation can cause multiple myeloma. A relatively uncommon malignancy, the highest rates occur in the Nordic countries, the UK and Switzerland. Treatment is usually by chemotherapy (Mephalan and Prednisolone ) and palliative radiotherapy.
Mycosis fungoides A rare form of lymphoma, which mainly affect the skin.
Mycostatin™ A medicine (Nystatin) in liquid form usually used to prevent fungal infections in the mouth.
Nausea  Feeling sick in ones stomach.
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy This is chemotherapy given before surgery to reduce a large tumour so that it is more surgically manageable.
Neoplasm  Term for a tumour which may be benign or cancerous.
Neutropenia  A term used to describe a lack of white blood cells known as nuetrophils. Neutrophils are the white blood cells responsible for fighting off bacterial infections.
Oedema  Swelling caused by fluid.
Oncologist  A doctor specailsing in treating cancer.
Oncology  The study of tumours or cancer.
opd Medical notation for once per day
Oramorph™ A strong pain relieving medicine (Morphine). It is used for the short term relief of severe pain.
Orichidectomy  The surgical removal of a testicle. The removal of one testicle does not make a man sterile, nor affect his ability to get an erection
Orphan Drug There are many diseases and conditions, which affect such small numbers of individuals that the diseases and conditions are considered rare. Because these conditions are rare, adequate drugs for treatment have not yet been developed. Drugs for these conditions are commonly referred to as ‘orphan drugs’. A drug is classified as ‘orphan’ if it is given to less than a total of 200,000 people annually or that the prevalence of the condition being treated, is less than 5 in 10,000. See our web page on clinical trials
Pagets disease This is a disease of bone that initially results in the excessive resorption of bone (by osteoclasts) followed by the replacement of normal bone marrow with vascular and fibrous tissue. Paget"s disease sometimes occurs in the breast.
Palliative care  Treatment aimed at relieving symptoms and pain rather than effecting a cure. Palliative Care is the continuing active total care of patients and their families by a multi-professional team at a time when the patients disease is no longer responding to curative treatment. The goal of Palliative Care is to provide the highest possible quality of life for both patient and family. Palliative Care responds to physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs. If necessary, it extends to support in bereavement.
Paris system A system devised to calculate the correct placement of radioactive implants within a tumour so that maximal dose is given to the tumour, while surrounding tissues are spared.
PBSCT Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transport: Blood is drawn from a patient and passed through a cell separator. This collects stem cells, and returns the rest of the blood back to the patient.
Petechiae  Tiny hemorrhages from small blood vessels just beneath the skin surface. The appear when the blood count (platelet) is low. Patechiae can also be caused by an adverse reaction to a drug or by septicemia. . Petechiae look like tiny red spots on the skin, which do not blanch when a glass tumbler is applied to the skin.
Photodynamic Therapy  The concept behind PDT is that the patient is first intravenously given a photosensitive drug (temoporfin). Then, high-energy light in the form of a Laser is used to illuminate the area of the tumour, and this action converts the drug into a cell toxic compound. The illuminated cell subsequently dies. The patient must then avoid bright light for up to three weeks following treatment due to photosensitivity. Photodynamic therapy is increasingly being used for head and neck cancer, where the outcomes in terms of function and appearance is thought to be improved
Placebo  A tablet or capsule that looks like the medicine used in a clinical trial, but does not contain any active ingredient.
Platelet Tiny fragments of blood cells that help form clots and prevent bleeding.
po Per Oral: Medical abbreviation to indicate that a medicine is to be administered by mouth,
Prednisolone A corticosteroid used to treat a variety of conditions. Specially coated versions of the tablet (enteric) are available which are less irritating on the stomach.
Prostate  A small conical gland at the base of the male bladder and surrounding the first part of the urethra. The prostate secretes fluid that combines with sperm to produce semen.
Prosthesis  An artificial replacement.
Protocol A treatment plan for how, when and what dose of treatment to give.
PSA Prostate Specific Antigen: PSA is an substance produced by the prostate. Men with prostate cancer tend to have higher levels of this protein in their blood.
Ptaquiloside  An alkaloid glucoside toxin produced by the bracken fern (Pteridium Spp.) which is known to produce bladder and intestinal cancer in animals following consumption.
Pulmonary To do with the lungs
qd Medical notation for once per day
qid Medical notation for four times daily.
QUART Quadrantectomy, Axillary Clearance and Radiotherapy. This treatment for breast cancer involves surgical removal of one quarter of the affected breast, together with the axillary lymph glands and radiotherapy to the breast.
Rhabdomyosarcoma  Malignant tumour derived from striated muscle (sarcoma).
Radioiodine ablation A treatment for hyperthyroidism (over active thyroid). In hyperthyroidism, too much thyroid hormone is produced leading to ill health. Iodine is naturally taken up by the thyroid to produce these thyroid hormones. By giving a carefully calculated dose of radioactive iodine, thyroid function can be reduced.
Radiotherapy  The use of high energy beams of radiation to treat cancer, as cancer cells are more susceptible to damage by radiation than ordinary cells. See section on radiotherapy
Radium A naturally occurring radioactive element, no longer used in radiotherapy, as safer and more intense sources have been discovered.
Radon  A radioactive gas released from granite deposits in certain geographical locations. Exposure to Radon is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer. Radon can leak into buildings through the floor and may accumulate inside. Domestic Radon emissions can be measured by contacting the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland.
Raloxifene A drug used to treat breast cancer (brand name Evista-R). It has the same mechanism of action as tamoxifen, but is primarily used to treat osterporosis.
RBCs Red blood cells: These blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen around the body via a network of veins and arteries. Also known as erythrocytes, their characteristic red colour is due to a high content of a iron containing protein called heamoglobin, which tightly binds oxygen.
Reed Sternberg Cell Giant cells with mirror image nuclei which are are found in patients suffering from a form of lymphoma known as Hodgkin"s lymphoma.
Remission A period of good health where there is no detectable evidence of cancer.
Retinoblastoma  Malignant tumour of the retina, usually arising in the inner nuclear layer of the neural retina.
Rigor  Stiffening of muscle as a result of either very high temperature. Rigor can be caused biochemically by high calcium levels and adenosine triphosphate depletion (ATP), where actin and myosin links are made in the muscle fibres, but not broken.
SCC Squamous cell carcinoma: Refers to cancer that arises from cells close to the surface of the epithelium (layer of cells lining the exterior of an organ, eg skin). 
Seminoma  A type of testicular cancer that arises from the germ cells at a very early stage of their development.
Sezary syndrome A rare form of lymphoma, which mainly affects the skin.
SLND Sentinel lymph node dissection: An experimental surgical technique used to identify the presence of micrometastases in lymph nodes that drain near a given tumour.
Somnolence An unnatural sleepiness and irritability.
Staging The process of assessing the extent of progress of cancer in a patient so that appropriate treatment may be prescribed given the location, spread and aggressiveness of a cancer.
Stem cell A specific type of cell responsible for the production of platelets, red and white blood cells.
Stoma The Greek word for an opening.
Stomatitis Inflammation of the oral mucosa.
T.P.N. Total parentaral nutrition. This is where nutrients are given via the blood stream (intravenously), rather than by mouth.
Tamoxifen  An antioestrogen drug (brand name Nolvadex) that may be given to women with estrogen receptive positive tumours to block oestrogen from entering the breast tissues. Currently being used with high risk women in clinical trials to prevent breast cancer and women who have had breast cancer to prevent recurrence. Compare with Arimidex
Topical Refers to the surface of the body. Topical preparations or medicines usually come in ointment or cream form.
TRAM flap Transverse Rectus Abdominus Muscle flap, a method of breast reconstruction where tissue from the lower abdominal wall, is moved into the chest to create a breast mound. This procedure usually means that an breast implant does not have to be used.
Transdermal  Literally meaning "across the skin", this refers to medicines that may be administered through the skin, as an ointment or patch form.
Tumor marker A substance sometimes found in an increased amount in the blood, other body fluids, or tissues and which may suggest the presence of some types of cancer. Examples of tumor markers include CA 125 (ovarian cancer), CA 15-3 (breast cancer), CEA, CA 19.9 (ovarian, lung, breast, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract cancers), and PSA (prostate cancer). Also called biomarkers.
Tumour An excessive growth of cells resulting in an abnormal mass. A tumour may be either benign or cancerous.
Urostomy  This is the term used to describe the opening created by an operation, where the waste matter from the kidneys is diverted to the surface of the abdomen and secured there to form a new exit for waste matter (urine).
VAD Chemotherapy regimen of Vincristine, Adriamycin (dodorubicin) and Dexamethasone.
VEGF Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor, or VEGF is a protein produced in increased amounts by cancer cells to promote the growth of vascular tissue. Drugs that block the action of VEGF are the source of much research. One such drug in Phase I clinical trials is SU5416 being used to treat Von Hippel Lindau Syndrome. It can be found in the urine of people with bladder cancer.
Vincristine  An anticancer drug with cytostatic properties (stops cells growing). It works by preventing the correct formation of the cell spindle during cell division.
Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome VHL is a rare herdidatary disease in which affected individuals are genetically disposed to develop certain types of tumours and cysts in multiple organs, most of which are nonmalignant but may undergo transformation (Martz 1992)
Warfrin  A drug used to prevent blood clotting (thin the blood).
Water Tablets See diuretics. Examples include frusamide, lasix.
WBCs White blood cells: Usually referred to as lymphocytes, they are responsible for fighting infection.
Xeloda Trade name for capectabine.
Xeroderma Pigmentosum  Individuals with XP are less able to repair damage caused to their skin by the suns UV rays, and so have a high risk of developing skin cancers including melanoma. Individuals must avoid sunlight, and have constant monitoring of their skin for tumours. XP is a rare condition, but by studying it, scientists have been able to better understand which genes protect us from certain forms of cancer.
Y No terms in glossary
Zoladex A drug (Goserelin), which is administered by injection and used to treat breast or ovarian cancer. This drug functions by inhibiting the production of a hormone called lutanising hormone.
Zofran™ A medicine (Ondansetron) used to control nausea and emesis (vomiting)

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