Understanding the Language of Cancer Prevention, Early Detection and Treatment
Every year we learn more about ways to prevent cancer, to detect it in its earliest, most curable stages, and to treat it more effectively. This new information has created a whole new language that may be confusing. This glossary of words and their meanings will help untangle the confusion and help you better understand what you read and hear about cancer.
Actinic keratosis is a precancerous condition of thick, scaly patches of skin.
The aerodigestive tract is the combined organs and tissues of the respiratory tract and the upper part of the digestive tract (including the lips, mouth, tongue, nose, throat, vocal cords, and part of the esophagus and windpipe).
An androgen is a type of hormone that promotes the development and maintenance of male sex characteristics.
Androstanolone is a hormone made from testosterone in the prostate gland, testes, and some other tissues. It is needed for the formation of male sex characteristics. High amounts of androstanolone may increase the growth of prostate cancer and make it harder to treat. It is also called dihydrotestosterone and DHT.
Anti-angiogenesis is a treatment to stop the development and growth of blood vessels that help tumors grow.
An antibody (antibodies) is a compound (protein) produced by our body’s immune system (see antigen). The immune system is a group of cells in our bodies that fight disease.
Anticancer is any drug, food or lifestyle habit that works to prevent or treat cancer.
An anticarcinogen is a substance that interferes with the action of a cancer-causing substance.
An antigen is a foreign substance in your body which causes the immune system to create antibodies to fight it.
Antioxidants are substances found in certain foods that can prevent cancer-causing substances, such as free radicals, from harming our bodies. For example, Vitamin C is an antioxidant.
The anus is the opening of the digestive tract from which waste is passed from the rectum and out of the body.
Apoptosis is the normal process in which cells destroy themselves when they become damaged or old.
Asbestos is a natural material that is made of tiny fibers. Asbestos can cause several serious diseases, including lung cancer.
Asbestosis is a lung disease caused by breathing in particles of asbestos. Symptoms include coughing, trouble breathing, and chest pain caused by permanent damage to lung tissue. A person with asbestosis is at risk for lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma (cancer found in the lining of lungs, chest, or abdomen).
An atypical cell is a cell in the body that is different from normal cells, has damaged DNA, and which could later become cancer (see gene).
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A barium enema is a procedure that produces images of the lower gastrointestinal tract. A liquid that contains barium is put into the rectum and colon by way of the anus. Barium is a silver-white metallic “contrast” material that helps highlight areas of the body that are shown on an x-ray screen.
Basal cells are round cells under the squamous cells in the top layer of the skin called the epidermis.
basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in the basal cells—small round cells in the top layer of the skin called the epidermis.
Basic research is research conducted in a laboratory to increase our basic understanding of how cancer develops and to learn new ways to prevent or treat cancer.
Benign describes a growth that isn’t cancerous and doesn’t spread to nearby tissue or other parts of the body.
benign breast disease
Benign breast disease is a common condition in which there are benign (noncancerous) changes in breast tissue. Symptoms can include dense, irregular and bumpy “cobblestone” texture in the breasts; breast discomfort; sensitive nipples; and itching. These symptoms may change throughout the menstrual cycle and usually stop after menopause. This condition is also called fibrocystic breast disease, fibrocystic breast changes, and mammary dysplasia.
benign proliferative breast disease
Benign proliferative breast disease his is a group of noncancerous conditions that may increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Examples include ductal hyperplasia, lobular hyperplasia, and papillomas.
benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a non-cancerous condition in which an overgrowth of prostate tissue pushes against the urethra and the bladder, blocking the flow of urine. It is also called benign prostatic hypertrophy.
Bilateral cancer is cancer that occurs in both paired organs, such as both breasts or both ovaries.
bilateral prophylactic mastectomy
A bilateral prophylactic mastectomy is surgery to remove both in order to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
A biopsy is the removal of growth or suspicious area of tissue so it can be viewed under a microscope to look for disease, such as cancer. An incisional or core biopsy is when a sample of tissue is removed. An excisional biopsy is when an entire tumor or lesion is removed. A needle biopsy or fine-needle aspiration is when a sample of tissue or fluid is removed with a needle
The bladder is the organ that stores urine.
Bowel is another name for the intestine, part of the digestive tract (see digestive tract)
The breast is the glandular organ located on the chest. It is made up of connective tissue, fat, and tissue that contain glands that can make milk. The breast is also called the mammary gland.
Breast cancer is a cancer that forms in tissues of the breast, usually the ducts and lobules. It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare.
breast carcinoma in situ
Breast carcinoma in situ is a non-invasive form of cancer in which abnormal cells are confined to either breast ducts, called ductal carcinoma in situ (DICS), or the breast lobules, called lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS).
Breast density describes the amount of different tissues in the breast. A dense breast has less fat than glandular and connective tissue. Mammogram films of breasts with higher density are harder to read and interpret than those of less dense breasts.
breast duct endoscopy
Breast duct endoscopy is a method used to examine the lining of the breast ducts to look for abnormal tissue. A very thin, flexible, lighted tube attached to a camera is inserted through the nipple, and threaded into the breast ducts deep in the breast. Tissue and fluid samples may be removed during the procedure.
breast imaging-reporting and data system (BI-RADS)
BI-RADS is a method used by radiologists to interpret and report the results of mammography, ultrasound, and MRI used in breast cancer screening and diagnosis.
breast self exam
A breast self exam is an exam in which a woman checks her breasts for lumps or other changes.
Breast–sparing surgery is an operation to remove the breast cancer but not the whole breast. Types of breast-sparing surgery include lumpectomy (removal of the lump), quadrantectomy (removal of one quarter, or quadrant, of the breast), and segmental mastectomy (removal of the cancer, as well as some of the breast tissue around the tumor and the lining over the chest muscles below the tumor). It is also called breast-conserving surgery.
Bronchia adenoma is cancer that forms in tissues of the bronchi (large air passages in the lungs, including those that lead to the lungs from the windpipe).
Bronchogenic carcinoma is cancer that begins in the tissue that lines or covers the airways of the lungs. This includes small cell and non-small cell lung cancer.
A bronchoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens used to view the trachea, bronchi and lungs. The bronchoscope is inserted through the nose or mouth. It may also have a tool on its end that can remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease.
Bronchoscopy is a procedure that uses a bronchoscope to examine the inside of the trachea, bronchi, and lungs. Bronchoscopy may be used to detect cancer or to perform some treatment procedures.
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Calcification is deposits of calcium in tissue. Calcification in the breast can be seen on a mammogram, but cannot be detected by touch. There are two types of breast calcification: macrocalcification and microcalcification. Macrocalcifications are large deposits and are usually not related to cancer. Microcalcifications are specks of calcium that may be found in an area of rapidly dividing cells. Many microcalcifications clustered together may be a sign of cancer.
Cancer is a group of diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. Cancer cells can spread to nearby tissues and through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to other parts of the body.
Cancer prevention refers to methods to stop cancer from occurring.
cancer prevention trials
Cancer prevention trials are research involving large numbers of people to test a new way to prevent cancer.
Cancer screening refers to tests given to people without any known symptoms, in order to detect cancer early or to detect changes that may become cancer. For example, a mammogram is a screening x-ray that can detect breast cancer early. Some other screening tests include: Pap smears for cervical cancer; and fecal occult blood test (FOBT or stool test), sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy and barium enema, which test for colorectal cancer.
A carcinogen is a chemical, physical or biological substance that increases the risk for cancer, such as those found in tobacco or asbestos.
Carcinogenesis is the process by which a carcinogen causes cancer.
Carcinoma is cancer that begins in the lower part (or base) of the epidermis, or in tissues that cover or line internal organs.
A cell is one of the smallest living structures in the human body. It contains genetic material (or DNA), which has all the information about how we look and how our bodies work (see gene).
Chemoprevention is the use of drugs, vitamins, or other agents to try to reduce the risk of or delay the development or recurrence of cancer.
A chemopreventive is a substance found in foods or produced by our own bodies, or a drug developed by researchers that may prevent cancer.
Chemoprotection is the use of chemopreventives to protect against cancer.
Chemotherapy is treatment with anticancer drugs.
A chest x-ray is an x-ray of the structures inside the chest. An x-ray is produced with high-energy radiation that moves through the body to create pictures on film and is used to diagnose disease.
The claus model a computer program that uses statistics to predict a person’s risk for developing breast cancer based on family history
A clinical breast exam is an exam of the breast by a health exam care professional to check for lumps or other changes.
A clinical exam is an examination by a health care professional who looks at a part of your body to check for changes.
A clinical trial is a research study to test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of a disease in people.
The colon is the long, coiled, tube-like organ (also called the large bowel or large intestine) that removes water from digested food. The remaining material, called stool, moves into the rectum and leaves the body through the anus. The colon has four sections: the ascending colon, the transverse colon, the descending colon and the sigmoid colon.
A colonoscope is a thin, lighted tube used to examine the inside of the colon.
A colonoscopy is an examination of the inside of the entire colon using a thin, lighted tube (called a colonoscope) inserted into the rectum. If abnormal areas are seen, tissue can be removed and examined under a microscope to determine whether disease is present.
Colorectal means having to do with the colon or rectum.
A colostomy is 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 part of the colon has been removed.
Comedo carcinoma is a type of ductal carcinoma in situ, a very early-stage breast cancer.
Crohn’s disease is a common type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD. It often involves the lower part of the small intestine, but can occur anywhere in the intestinal tract. The condition, which can be genetic, is usually diagnosed in people in their teens or twenties. Crohn’s disease causes inflammation in the entire thickness of the bowel wall. Common symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and weight loss. People with the disease have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.
A CT scan is a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body taken from different angles. The pictures are created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine.
cutaneous breast cancer
Cutaneous breast cancer is cancer that has spread from the breast to the skin. It is also called cutaneous phyllodes.
cystosarcoma phyllodes (CSP)
Cystosarcoma phyllodes is a large and fast-growing tumor that is found in the prostate or breast. It can be benign or cancerous.
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A dental x-ray is an x-ray of the entire mouth that can show whether cancer has spread to the jaw.
The dermis is the lower or inner layer of the two main layers of tissue that make up the skin.
A diagnostic mammogram is an x-ray of the breasts used to check for cancer after a lump or other symptom of breast cancer has been found.
Dietary fiber is the part of plant foods (grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables) that our bodies don’t fully digest. It helps move waste from our bodies and may play a role in helping to prevent some cancers.
The digestive system is made up of the organs that take in food and turn it into products that the body can use to stay healthy. It absorbs nutrients, produces hormones and helps get rid of toxic materials from the body. Waste products the body can’t use leave the body through bowel movements. The digestive system includes the salivary glands, mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, small and large intestines, rectum and anus. It is also called the gastrointestinal system.
The digestive tract is the part of the digestive system through which food and liquids pass when they are swallowed, digested, and eliminated. These organs are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, and rectum and anus.
Dihydrotestosterone is a hormone made from testosterone in the (DHT) prostate gland, testes, and some other tissues. It is needed to help form male sex characteristics. High amounts of this hormone may increase the growth of prostate cancer and make it harder to treat. Dihydrotestosterone is also called androstanolone.
Diethylstilbestrol is a synthetic form of the hormone estrogen. It was prescribed to pregnant women between about 1940 and 1971 because it was thought to prevent miscarriages. DES may increase risk for uterine, ovarian, or breast cancer in women who took it. It also has been linked to increased risk of clear cell carcinoma of the vagina or cervix in daughters exposed to DES before birth.
Digital mammography is a technique that uses a computer, rather than x-ray film, to record images of the breast.
digital rectal examination (DRE)
A digital rectal examination is an examination in which a doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for abnormalities.
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a type of molecule in cells that carry genetic material that passes from one generation to the next.
A duct in medicine is a tube or vessel of the body through which fluids pass.
ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
Ductal carcinoma in situ is a non-invasive condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct. The abnormal cells have not spread outside the duct to other tissues in the breast. In some cases, ductal carcinoma in situ may become invasive cancer and spread to other tissues. Ductal carcinoma in situ is also called intraductal carcinoma.
Ductal lavage is a method used to collect cells from milk ducts in the breast. A hair-size catheter (tube) is inserted into the nipple, and a small amount of salt water is released into the duct. The water picks up breast cells, and is then removed. The cells are checked under a microscope. Ductal lavage may be used in addition to clinical breast examination and mammography to detect breast cancer.
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Early detection is finding cancer early before it has spread to other parts of the body when it can be treated more easily and even cured.
Early intervention is drug treatment or changes in diet or lifestyle that can help prevent cancer. For example, health care professionals use the drug tamoxifen to protect women who have increased risk of developing breast cancer.
early-stage breast cancer
Early-stage breast cancer is breast cancer that has not spread beyond the breast or to the nearby axillary lymph nodes. This includes ductal carcinoma in situ and stage I, stage IIA, stage IIB, and stage IIIA breast cancer.
An endoscopy is a procedure that uses an endoscope to examine the inside of the body. An endoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease.
Environmental tobacco smoke is smoke that comes from burning tobacco smoke a tobacco product and the smoke that is exhaled by smokers Inhaling environmental tobacco smoke is called involuntary or passive smoking. Environmental tobacco smoke is also called secondhand smoke.
The epidermis is the upper or outer layer of the two main layers of tissue that make up the skin. It is where skin cancer begins and is made up of three kinds of cells: squamous, basal, and melanocytes.
An erection, in medicine, is the swelling of the penis with blood, causing it to become firm.
Erythroleukoplakia is an abnormal patch of red and white tissue that forms on the mouth’s mucous membranes. These patches may become cancerous. Smoking or chewing tobacco and drinking alcohol may increase risk of erythroleukoplakia.
Erythroplakia is an abnormal patch of red tissue that forms on the mouth’s mucous membranes. These patches may become cancerous. Smoking or chewing tobacco and drinking alcohol may increase risk of erythroplakia.
extensive-stage small cell lung cancer
Extensive-stage small cell lung cancer is cancer has spread outside the lung where it first occurred or to other parts of the body.
Extrapleural pneumonectomy is surgery to remove a diseased lung, part of the pericardium (membrane covering the heart), part of the diaphragm (muscle between the lungs and the abdomen), and part of the parietal pleura (membrane lining the chest). This type of surgery is used most often to treat malignant mesothelioma.
5-alpha reductase is the enzyme that changes testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is the hormone that causes the prostate to grow. 5-alpha reductase inhibitors are drugs that block that enzyme and prevent DHT from forming, reducing risk for prostate cancer.
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familial (adenomatous) polyposis
Familial (adenomatous) polyposis is an inherited condition in which thousands of polyps (grape-like growths) develop on the inside walls of the colon and rectum. People who inherit this condition usually begin to form polyps during puberty. Without treatment, these people almost always develop colon cancer within 10 to 15 years.
fecal occult blood test
A fecal occult blood test checks for hidden blood in stool, which can be a sign of colorectal cancer.
Fibroadenoma is a benign (noncancerous) tumor that usually forms in the breast from both fibrous and glandular tissue. Fibroadenomas are the most common benign breast tumors.
fibrocystic breast changes
Fibrocystic breast changes refer to benign (noncancerous) changes in breast tissue. Symptoms can include dense, irregular and bumpy “cobblestone” texture in the breasts, breast discomfort, sensitive nipples, and itching. These symptoms may change throughout the menstrual cycle and usually stop after menopause. This condition is also called fibrocystic breast disease, benign breast disease, and mammary dysplasia.
Fine-needle aspiration is a procedure in which a health care professional uses a thin needle to remove tissue or fluid to examine under a microscope. Sometimes a CT scan or other imaging tool is used to guide the needle.
Folate is a substance found in green leafy vegetables and most breakfast cereals that may help reduce the risk of some cancers. It is also known as folic acid.
Free radicals are substances in our bodies that can cause cell damage that may lead to cancer.
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The gail model is a computer program that uses personal and family history to estimate a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer.
Gastrointestinal (GI) refers to anything related to the digestive tract, which processes food to create energy and rid the body of waste. After food is partially digested in the stomach, it is sent to the small intestine, the longest section of the GI tract, and then to the large intestine, also called the colon. The digested waste moves from the colon into the rectum and passes out of the body through the anus in a bowel movement.
A gene is the material in a cell that controls heredity—those things we get from our parents that control how we look and how our body works. DNA in the genes controls the formation of proteins that can play an important role in disease (see mutation).
A gleason score is a system of grading prostate cancer tissue based on how it looks under a microscope. Gleason scores range from two to 10 and indicate how likely it is that a tumor will spread. A low Gleason score means the cancer tissue is similar to normal prostate tissue and the tumor is less likely to spread; a high Gleason score means the cancer tissue is very different from normal and the tumor is more likely to spread.
A glossectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of the tongue.
The grade of a tumor depends on how abnormal the cancer cells look under a microscope and how quickly the tumor is likely to grow and spread. Grading systems are different for each type of cancer.
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halsted radical mastectomy
Halsted radical mastectomy is a surgery for breast cancer in which the breast, chest muscles, and all of lymph nodes under the arm are removed. For many years, this was the breast cancer operation used most often, but it is used rarely now. Doctors consider radical mastectomy only when the tumor has spread to the chest muscles. It is also called radical mastectomy
head and neck cancer
Head and neck cancer is cancer in the head or neck region, which includes the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, salivary glands, throat, or larynx).
helical CT scan
A helical CT scan (also called spiral CT) is a tool that creates detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are produced by a computer linked to an x-ray machine that scans the body in a spiral path. It is also called helical computed tomography.
hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer
Hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC) is an inherited condition that puts people at high risk of getting colon cancer before age of 50. People who carry the gene have an 80 percent chance of developing an intestinal tumor during their lifetime. People with family histories of the disease should undergo regular colonoscopies and abdominal imaging help detect polyps early. Women with HNPCC have a significantly higher risk of developing endometrial cancer, which is cancer of the upper lining of the uterus.
A hormone is one of many chemicals made by glands in the body. Hormones circulate in the bloodstream and control the actions of certain cells or organs. Some hormones can also be made in the laboratory.
hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is treatment with hormones (estrogen, progesterone, or both) for women who are past menopause. HRT replaces hormones that are no longer produced by the ovaries. It is also called menopausal hormone therapy.
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Immunization is a process that uses a vaccine to help the body’s own immune system protect itself against a disease, such as cancer (see vaccine).
infiltrating ductal carcinoma
Infiltrating ductal carcinoma is the most common type of invasive breast cancer. It starts in the cells that line the milk ducts in the breast, grows outside the ducts, and often spreads to lymph nodes.
inflammatory breast cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer is a type of breast cancer in which the breast looks red and swollen and feels warm. The skin of the breast may also show the pitted appearance called peau d’orange (like the skin of an orange). The redness and warmth occur because the cancer cells block the lymph vessels in the skin
The intestine is the long, tube-like organ in the abdomen that completes the process of digestion. It is made up of the small intestine and the large intestine, which consists of the colon and rectum.
Intraductal carcinoma a noninvasive condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct and haven’t spread to other tissues in the breast. In some cases, intraductal carcinoma may become invasive cancer and spread to other tissues. It is also called ductal carcinoma in situ and DCIS.
Intraductal papilloma is a benign (noncancerous), wart-like growth in a milk duct of the breast. It is usually found close to the nipple and may cause a clear, sticky, or bloody discharge from the nipple. It may also cause pain and a lump in the breast that can be felt or seen. It usually affects women age35to 55. Having an intraductal papilloma does not increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
Intravenous (IV) is a way to give a drug or other material through a vein.
invasive breast cancer
Invasive breast cancer is cancer that has spread from where it started in the breast into surrounding, healthy tissue. Most invasive breast cancer starts in the ducts (tubes that carry milk from the lobules to the nipple). Invasive breast cancer can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. It is also called infiltrating breast cancer.
isolated lung perfusion
Isolated lung perfusion is a surgical procedure during which the circulation of blood to the lungs is separated from the circulation of blood that moves through the rest of the body. Then a drug is delivered directly into the blood circulating in the lungs so a higher concentration of chemotherapy can reach lung tumors.
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Klinefelter syndrome is a genetic disorder in males caused by having one or more extra X chromosomes. Males with this disorder may have larger than normal breasts, a lack of facial and body hair, a rounded body type, and small testicles. They may learn to speak much later than other children, and may have difficulty learning to read and write. Klinefelter syndrome increases the risk of developing extragonadal germ cell tumors and breast cancer. Extragonadal germ cell tumors occur when cells that were meant to be sperm develop areas of the body other than the testicles.
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large cell carcinoma
Large cell carcinoma is lung cancer in which the cells are large and look abnormal when examined under a microscope.
Leukoplakia is an abnormal patch of white tissue that forms on mucous membranes in the mouth and other areas of the body. It may become cancerous. Smoking or chewing tobacco and drinking alcohol may increase the risk of leukoplakia in the mouth.
limited-stage small cell lung cancer
Limited-stage small cell lung cancer is cancer found only in one lung, the tissues between the lungs, and nearby lymph nodes.
A lobe is a portion of an organ, such as the liver, lung, breast, thyroid, or brain.
A lobectomy is surgery to remove a whole lobe of an organ. This is the most common surgery for lung cancer.
localized malignant mesothelioma
Localized malignant mesothelioma is cancer found in the lining of the chest wall, in the lining of the lung, the lining of the diaphragm (the thin muscle below the lungs and heart that separates the chest from the abdomen), or the lining of the sac that covers the heart on the same side of the chest. It is also called stage I malignant mesothelioma.
Lobular carcinoma is cancer that begins in the lobules (the glands that make milk) of the breast. Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is a condition in which abnormal cells are found only in the lobules. When cancer has spread from the lobules to surrounding tissues, it is called invasive lobular carcinoma.
lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
Lobular carcinoma in situ is a condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lobules of the breast. LCIS seldom becomes invasive cancer. However, having lobular carcinoma in situ in one breast increases the risk of developing breast cancer in either breast.
A lobule is a small lobe or a subdivision of a lobe.
Local therapy is treatment that affects cells in the tumor and the area close to it.
A lumpectomy is surgery to remove the tumor and a small amount of normal tissue around it. A lumpectomy to remove a breast tumor is a type of open biopsy—a procedure in which a surgical incision (cut) is made through the skin to expose and remove tissues. The biopsy tissue is examined under a microscope by a pathologist.
The lung is one of a pair of organs in the chest that supplies the body with oxygen, and removes carbon dioxide from the body.
A lung biopsy is the removal of a small piece of lung tissue to be checked by a pathologist for cancer or other diseases. The tissue may be removed using a bronchoscope (a thin, lighted, tube-like instrument that is inserted through the trachea and into the lung). It may also be removed using a fine needle inserted through the chest wall, or surgically guided by a video camera that is inserted through the chest wall. Tissue can also be removed by an open biopsy in which an incision is made between the ribs, a sample of lung tissue is removed, and the wound closed with stitches.
Lung cancer is cancer that forms in tissues of the lung, usually in the cells lining air passages. The two main types are small cell lung cancer and non-small lung cancer. These types are diagnosed based on how the cells look under a microscope.
Lung metastasis is cancer that has spread to the lung from the original (primary) tumor that was someplace else in the body.
A lymph node is a rounded mass of lymphatic tissue that is surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue. It is also known as a lymph gland. Lymph nodes are part of the immune system and are spread out along lymphatic vessels. They contain many lymphocytes (white blood cells), which filter the lymphatic fluid (lymph).
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male breast cancer
Male breast cancer is cancer that forms in tissues of the breast in men. Most male breast cancer begins in cells lining the breast ducts. It’s very rare and usually affects older men.
Malignancy is a cancerous growth (see tumor).
Malignant means cancerous. A malignant growth has a tendency to invade and destroy nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.
malignant pleural effusion
Malignant pleural effusion is a condition in which an abnormal amount of fluid collects between the thin layers of tissue (pleura) lining the outside of the lung and the wall of the chest cavity. Lung cancer, breast cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia cause most malignant pleural effusions.
Mammary means having to do with the breast.
Mammary dysplasia refers to benign (noncancerous) changes in breast tissue. Symptoms may include irregular lumps or cysts, breast discomfort, sensitive nipples, and itching. These symptoms may change throughout the menstrual cycle and usually stop after menopause. It’s also called fibrocystic breast disease, fibrocystic breast changes, and benign breast disease.
The mammary gland is a glandular organ on the chest. The mammary gland is made up of connective tissue, fat, and tissue that contain the glands that can make milk. The mammary gland is also called breast.
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast.
A mammography is the use of x-rays to create a picture of the breast.
A Mammotome is a device that uses a computer-guided probe to perform breast biopsies. A Mammotome biopsy can be done as an outpatient procedure with a local anesthetic. During the procedure only a small amount of healthy tissue is removed, and no stitches are needed.
A mastectomy is surgery to remove the breast (or as much of the breast tissue as possible).
A medical oncologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer. A medical oncologist often serves as the main caretaker of someone who has cancer and coordinates treatment provided by other specialists.
Medullary breast carcinoma is a rare type of breast cancer that often can be treated successfully. In this type of breast cancer, lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) can be seen in and around the tumor when tissue is viewed under a microscope.
Melanin is a pigment that gives color to skin and eyes and helps protect them from damage by ultraviolet light.
Melanocyte is a cell type found in the lower part of the epidermis. These cells make melanin, the pigment that gives skin its natural color. When skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes make more pigment, causing the skin to darken.
Melanoma is a form of cancer that begins in melanocytes (cells that make the pigment melanin). It may begin in a mole (skin melanoma), but can also begin in other pigmented tissues, such as in the eye or in the intestines.
Menopausal hormone therapy is treatment with hormones (estrogen, progesterone, or both) for women who have experienced menopause. It replaces hormones no longer produced by the ovaries. It is also called hormone replacement therapy and HRT.
Mesothelioma is cancer found in the lining of the lungs, chest, or abdomen.
Metastasis is the spread of cancer from one part of the body to another. Tumors formed from cells that have spread are called “secondary tumors.” These tumors contain cells that are like those in the original (primary) tumor. The plural is metastases
Microcalcification is a tiny deposit of calcium in the breast that cannot be felt, but can be detected on a mammogram. A cluster of these very small specks of calcium may indicate that cancer is present.
A miraluma test is a type of breast imaging that is used to detect cancer cells in the breasts of some women who have had abnormal mammograms, or who have dense breast tissue. The miraluma test is not used for screening, or in place of a mammogram. In this test, a woman receives an injection of a small amount of a radioactive substance, which adheres to cancer cells. A gamma camera is then used to take pictures of the breasts. It is also called scintimammography and sestamibi breast imaging.
Modified radical mastectomy is surgery for breast cancer in which the breast, most or all of the lymph nodes under the arm, and the lining over the chest muscles are removed. Sometimes the surgeon also removes part of the chest wall muscles.
A mole is a benign (noncancerous) growth on the skin that is formed by a cluster of melanocytes (cells that make melanin, the substance that gives color to skin and eyes). A mole is usually dark and may be raised from the skin.
MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. It’s a procedure in which radio waves and a powerful magnet linked to a computer are used to create detailed pictures of areas inside the body. These pictures can show the difference between normal and diseased tissue.
Multicentric breast cancer is breast cancer in which more than one breast cancer tumor has formed separately from one another. The tumors are likely to be in different quadrants (sections) of the breast. Multicentric breast cancer is rare.
Multifocal breast cancer is breast cancer in which more than one breast cancer tumor has developed from one original tumor. The tumors are likely to be in the same quadrant (section) of the breast.
A mutation is a change or damage that occurs in the gene structure (or DNA) of cells. Mutated cells can lead to cancer.
neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin
Neuroendrocrine carcinoma of the skin is a rare type of cancer that forms on or just beneath the skin. It usually occurs in parts of the body that have been exposed to the sun and is most common in older people and in people with weakened immune systems.
Nicotine is an addictive, poisonous chemical found in tobacco. It can also be made in the laboratory. When it enters the body, nicotine causes increased heart rate, increased use of oxygen by the heart, and a sense of well-being and relaxation. It is also used as an insecticide.
In anatomy, the nipple is the small raised area in the center of the breast through which milk can flow to the outside.
Nipple discharge is fluid coming from the nipple.
Non-melanoma skin cancer is skin cancer that develops in basal cells or squamous cells of the skin’s epidermis. It does not occur in melanocytes (pigment-producing cells of the skin).
Non-small cell lung cancer is a group of lung cancers. These are named for the kinds of cells found in the cancer and how the cells look under a microscope. The three main types of non-small cell lung cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer.
Nutrients are chemicals, such as vitamins and minerals, that make up food, and which help the body grow and organs function
occult stage non-small cell lung cancer
Occult stage non-small cell lung cancer occurs when cancer cells are found in sputum, but no tumor can be found in the lung by imaging or bronchoscopy, or when the primary tumor is too small to be evaluated.
Oral cancer is cancer that forms in tissues of the lip or mouth. This includes the front two thirds of the tongue, the upper and lower gums, the lining inside the cheeks and lips, the bottom of the mouth under the tongue, the bony top of the mouth, and the small area behind the wisdom teeth.
The oral cavity is the mouth.
Oropharyngeal cancer is cancer that begins in the back third of the tongue. It is also known as throat cancer.
Paget disease of the nipple
Paget disease of the nipple is a form of breast cancer in which the tumor grows from ducts beneath the nipple onto the surface of the nipple. Symptoms commonly include itching and burning and an eczema-like condition around the nipple, sometimes along with oozing or bleeding.
A pancoast tumor is a type of lung cancer that begins in the upper part of a lung and spreads to nearby tissues, such as the ribs and vertebrae. Most pancoast tumors are non-small cell cancers. A pancoast tumor is also called pulmonary sulcus tumor.
A partial mastectomy is removal of cancer, as well as some of the breast tissue around the tumor and the lining over the chest muscles below the tumor. Usually some of the lymph nodes under the arm are also removed. It is also called segmental mastectomy.
A pelvic lymphadenectomy is surgery to remove lymph nodes in the pelvis so they can be examined under a microscope to see if they contain cancer.
A phyllodes tumor is a type of large tumor found in breast or prostate tissue. It often grows quickly, may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer), and may spread to other parts of the body.
A phytochemical is a compound that naturally occurs in plants. Some phytochemicals may help prevent cancer.
A plant-based diet is a diet that consists largely of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. This type of diet is considered healthy and may help reduce cancer risk.
Pleuropulmonary blastoma is a rare and very fast-growing cancer that forms in tissues of the lung and pleura (a thin layer of tissue that covers the lungs and lines the interior wall of the chest cavity). Pleuropulmonary blastoma is most common in children.
Pneumonectom is surgery to remove all of one lung. In a partial pneumonectomy, one or more lobes of a lung are removed.
A polyp is a grape-like growth that sticks out from a mucous membrane. Precancerous polyps in the colon can be removed during a colonoscopy to prevent them from developing into colon cancer.
A polypectomy is a procedure to remove a polyp during a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.
Premalignancy refers to cells that are not normal and that may develop into cancer.
Preventive mastectomy is surgery to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by removing one or both breasts before disease develops. It is also called prophylactic mastectomy.
ProstaScint is a substance used to detect prostate cancer. It’s combined with a radioactive material, injected into the body where it attaches itself to prostate cells. A gamma camera (a special camera that detects radioactivity) is used to find prostate cancer cells in the body. It is also called capromab pendetide.
A ProstaScint scan is an imaging test used to detect prostate cancer. The patient receives an injection of an indium 111-labeled form of ProstaScint, which contains an antibody that attaches to prostate cells. A gamma camera (a special camera that detects radioactivity) is used to find prostate cancer cells in the body.
The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system. The prostate surrounds the part of the urethra just below the bladder. It produces a fluid that forms part of semen.
Prostate cancer is cancer that forms in tissues of the prostate. Prostate cancer usually occurs in older men
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a substance produced by the prostate. It may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, or infection or inflammation of the prostate.
A prostate-specific antigen test is a blood test that measures the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a substance produced by the prostate and some other tissues in the body. Increased levels of PSA may be a sign of prostate cancer.
Prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP) is an enzyme produced by the prostate. It may be found in increased amounts in men who have prostate cancer.
Prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) is a noncancerous growth in the lining of the internal and external surfaces of the prostate gland. Having PIN may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland.
A quadrantectomy is surgical removal of the region of the breast (approximately one quarter) containing cancer.
A radiation oncologist is a doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer.
Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body in the area near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy, implant radiation or brachytherapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance that circulates throughout the body. Radiation therapy is also called radiotherapy.
A radical mastectomy is surgery for breast cancer in which the breast, chest muscles, and all of the lymph nodes under the arm are removed. For many years, this was the breast cancer operation used most often. It’s used rarely now. Doctors consider this procedure only when the tumor has spread to the chest muscles. It is also called Halsted radical mastectomy.
Radionuclide bone scan is a technique to create images of bones on a bone scan computer screen or on film. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into a blood vessel and travels through the bloodstream. It collects in the bones and is detected by the scanner. This test is used to see if any cancer cells have spread to other areas of the body, like the bones.
Radon is a radioactive gas that is released by uranium, a substance found in soil and rock. Breathing in too much radon can damage lung cells and may lead to lung cancer.
The rectum is the last six to eight inches of the large intestine. It stores solid waste until it leaves the body through the anus.
Recurrent cancer is cancer that has returned. It may appear at the same site as the original (primary) tumor or in another location after the tumor had disappeared.
Recurrent prostate cancer is prostate cancer that has come back after it has been treated. The cancer may come back in the prostate or in other parts of the body.
In women, the reproductive system includes the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the uterus (womb), the cervix, and the vagina (birth canal). The reproductive system in men includes the prostate, the testes, and the penis.
The respiratory system is made up of organs involved in breathing. It includes the nose, throat, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and lungs. It is also called respiratory tract.
A risk factor is something that makes a person more likely to get a disease. Smoking, for example, is a risk factor for lung cancer.
Sarcoid is an inflammatory disease that causes the formation of granulomas (small nodules of immune cells) in the lungs, lymph nodes, and other organs. Sarcoid may be acute and go away by itself, or it may be chronic and progressive.
A scan is a three-dimensional image of a part of the body. They are used to detect diseases and gauge treatment. For example, spiral CT-scans are being tested as a way to detect lung cancer.
Scintimammography is a type of breast imaging test that is used to detect cancer cells in some women who have had abnormal mammograms, or who have dense breast tissue. It’s not used for screening or in place of a mammogram. In this test, a woman receives an injection of a small amount of a radioactive substance, which adheres to cancer cells. A gamma camera is used to take pictures of the breasts. It is also called Miraluma test and sestamibi breast imaging.
Screening means conducting examinations or tests to detect diseases before a person has symptoms. Screening can help detect diseases in their early, most treatable stages. In some cases screening can also be preventive. In colorectal cancer, for example, removing precancerous polyps prevents colon cancer.
A screening mammogram is an x-ray of the breasts. This is performed to check for breast cancer when there are no signs or symptoms.
secondhand smoke is smoke that comes from the burning of a tobacco product and that is exhaled by smokers. Inhaling secondhand smoke is called involuntary or passive smoking. It is also called environmental tobacco smoke or ETS.
A segmental mastectomy is the removal of cancer, as well as some of the breast tissue around the tumor and the lining over the chest muscles below the tumor. Usually some of the lymph nodes under the arm are also removed. It is also called partial mastectomy.
A segmentectomy is a surgical procedure to remove part of an organ or gland. At may also be used to remove a tumor and normal tissue around it. In lung cancer surgery, segmentectomy refers to removing a section of a lobe of the lung.
A self-exam means looking at your own body to learn what is normal and to find anything that may be different. For example, some women may do monthly breast self-exams to check for changes in their breasts. Likewise, some men may do testicular self-exams to see if there are any changes in their testicles. Both men and women can perform a self-exam of their skin to see any changes. Men and women should tell their health care professional about any changes they discover during a self-exam.
Seminal fluid is fluid from the prostate and other sex glands that helps transport sperm out of a man’s body during orgasm. Seminal fluid contains sugar as an energy source for sperm.
A seminal vesicle biopsy is the removal of fluid or tissue with a needle biopsy from the seminal vesicles for examination under a microscope. The seminal vesicles are glands in the male reproductive tract that produce a part of semen.
Sestamibi breast imaging is a type of imaging test that is used to detect cancer cells in the breasts of some women may who have had abnormal mammograms, or who have dense breast tissue. Sestamibi breast imaging is not used for screening, or in place of a mammogram. In this test, a woman receives an injection of a small amount of a radioactive substance, which adheres to cancer cells. A gamma camera is then used to take pictures of the breasts. It is also called scintimammography and Miraluma test.
Side effects are problems that occur when treatment affects healthy cells. Common side effects of cancer treatment are fatigue, nausea, vomiting, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss and mouth sores.
A sigmoidoscope is a thin, lighted tube used to view the inside of the colon.
A sigmoidoscopy is an examination of the lower colon using a thin, lighted tube called a sigmoidoscope. Samples of tissue or cells may be taken during the exam and looked at under a microscope. It is also called proctosigmoidoscopy.
A simple mastectomy is the removal of the breast. It is also called total mastectomy.
Skin cancer is cancer that forms in tissues of the skin. There are several types of skin cancer. Skin cancer that forms in melanocytes (skin cells that make pigment) is called melanoma. Skin cancer that forms in basal cells (small, round cells in the base of the outer layer of skin) is called basal cell carcinoma. Skin cancer that forms in squamous cells (flat cells that form the surface of the skin) is called squamous cell carcinoma. Skin cancer that forms in neuroendocrine cells (cells that release hormones in response to signals from the nervous system) is called neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin.
A sleeve lobectomy is surgery to remove a lung tumor in a lobe of the lung and a part of the main bronchus (airway). The ends of the bronchus are rejoined and any remaining lobes are reattached to the bronchus. This surgery is done to save part of the lung.
Small cell lung cancer is a fast-growing cancer that forms in tissues of the lung and can spread to other parts of the body. The cancer cells look small and oval-shaped when looked at under a microscope.
SPF is also called sun protection factor. It’s based on the amount of UVB radiation needed to turn sunscreen- or sun block-treated skin red compared to non-treated skin. People can tell how long sunscreen will protect them by multiplying the number of minutes it takes to their skin to burn by the SPF number. For example, if people with skin that burns in five minutes of exposure to the sun use a sunscreen with an SPF 30, they would likely burn in 150 minutes and need to reapply the sunscreen at that time.
Sunscreens with SPF 12 through 29 offer moderate protection against sunburns. Use this formula to calculate protection: If a person whose skin burns in five minutes uses a sunscreen with SPF 12, (5 minutes x 12), it would take 60 minutes until the skin is vulnerable to burn and sunscreen needs to be reapplied.
Sunscreens with SPF 2 through 11 offer minimal protection against sunburns. This SPF is not recommended. Use this formula to calculate protection: If a person whose skin burns in five minutes uses a sunscreen with SPF 2 ( 5 minutes x 2) , it would take just 10 minutes until the skin is vulnerable to burns and sunscreen needs to be reapplied.
Sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher offers the highest protection against sunburns. This is the recommended level. Use this formula to calculate protection: if a person whose skin burns in five minutes uses a sunscreen with SPF 30 (5 minutes x 30), it would take 150 minutes until the skin is vulnerable to burn and sunscreen needs to be reapplied.
A spiral CT scan (also called helical CT) is a tool that creates detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine that scans the body in a spiral path. It is also called helical computed tomography.
Sputum is mucus and other matter brought up from the lungs by coughing.
Sputum cytology is an examination under a microscope of cells found in sputum (mucus and other matter brought up from the lungs by coughing). The test checks for abnormal cells, such as lung cancer cells.
A squamous cell is a flat cell that looks like a fish scale under a microscope. These cells cover inside and outside surfaces of the body.
Squamous cell carcinoma is cancer that begins in squamous cells, which carcinoma are thin, flat cells that look like fish scales. Squamous cells are found in tissue on the surface of skin, the lining of the hollow organs of the body, and the passages of the respiratory and digestive tracts.
Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck is cancer that begins in squamous cells of the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, salivary glands, throat, and larynx. It is the of the head and neck is the most common most common form of head and neck cancer (see squamous cell).
A stage is a number representing the degree to which a cancer has spread, including whether the disease has metastasized (moved from the original site of the tumor to other parts of the body).
Staging is the use of tests to learn the extent of cancer in the body.
A stoma is a surgically-created opening from an area inside the body to the outside.
Stool is bodily waste left over after digestion and which moves out of the body through the anus.
Sun block is a substance that provides a high degree of protection against sunburn. It may prevent skin from tanning and burning by controlling the amount of ultraviolet rays the skin absorbs.
Sunscreen is a substance that helps protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Sunscreens reflect, absorb, and scatter both ultraviolet A and B radiation. Using lotions, creams, or gels that contain sunscreens can help protect the skin from early aging and from damage that may lead to skin cancer.
Testosterone is a hormone that helps to develop and maintain male sex characteristics.
In medicine, thermography is a procedure that produces pictures called thermagrams. The procedure uses an infrared camera that can sense heat. The surface heat produced by different parts of the body is recorded. Abnormal tissue can cause temperature changes, which may show up on the thermogram. Thermography may be used to diagnose breast cancer and other tumors.
Thoracentesis is a procedure to check for cancer cells by removing fluid (pleural fluid) from the chest using a long needle.
A thoracoscopy is an examination of the inside of the chest, using a thoracoscope. A thoracoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens used for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue that can be checked under a microscope for signs of disease.
A thoracotomy is an operation to open the chest.
Tobacco is a plant with leaves that have high levels of the addictive chemical nicotine. The leaves may be smoked (in cigarettes, cigars, and pipes), applied to the gums (in dipping and chewing tobacco), or inhaled (snuff). Tobacco leaves also may contain many cancer-causing chemicals. Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke from tobacco have been linked to many types of cancer and other diseases. The scientific name for tobacco is Nicotiana tabacum.
Tongue cancer is cancer that begins in the tongue. When the cancer begins in the front two-thirds of the tongue, it is considered to be a type of oral cavity cancer. If the cancer begins in the back third of the tongue, it is considered to be a type of oropharyngeal or throat cancer.
A total mastectomy is the removal of the breast. It is also called simple mastectomy.
A transperineal biopsy is a procedure in which a sample of tissue is biopsy removed from the prostate for examination under a microscope. The sample is removed with a thin needle that is inserted through the skin between the scrotum and the rectum and into the prostate.
A transrectal biopsy is a procedure in which a sample of tissue is removed from the prostate using a thin needle that is inserted through the rectum and into the prostate. Transrectal ultrasound is usually used to guide the needle. The sample is examined under a microscope to see if it contains cancer.
A transrectal ultrasound is a procedure in which a probe that sends out ultrasound high-energy sound waves is inserted into the rectum. The sound waves bounce off internal tissues or organs and makes echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissue called a sonogram. Transrectal ultrasound is used to look for abnormalities in the rectum and nearby structures, including the prostate.
A tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue that results from uncontrolled cell division. It may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Ulcerative colitis is one of the most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease. In this disease, chronic inflammation of the colon’s inner lining causes ulcers. People with this condition often have abdominal pain, cramps and loose discharges of pus, blood and mucus from the bowel. They are at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Ultraviolet radiation is energy made up of invisible rays that come from the sun. UV radiation also comes from sun lamps and tanning beds. UV radiation can damage the skin and cause melanoma and other types of skin cancer. UV radiation is made up of two types of rays, called UVA and UVB rays.
The urethra is the tube through which urine leaves the body. It empties urine from the bladder.
UVA rays are one type of UV radiation that comes from the sun, tanning booths and sun lamps. Exposure to too much UVA rays may add to skin damage that can lead to skin cancer and cause premature aging. Skin specialists recommend that people use sunscreens that reflect, absorb, or scatter both kinds of UV radiation.
A vaccine is a drug administered to stimulate a person’s immune system to fight a bacterial or viral infection, or cancer (see also immunization).
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The Whitmore-Jewett staging system is used stage prostate cancer that uses the letters ABCD. “A” and “B” refer to cancer that is confined to the prostate. “C” refers to cancer that has grown out of the prostate, but has not spread to lymph nodes or other places in the body. “D” refers to cancer that has spread to lymph nodes or to other places in the body. It is also called the ABCD rating or the Jewett staging system (see staging).
An x-ray is a technique that uses high-energy radiation in low doses to create images on film used to diagnose diseases. It is also used in high doses to treat cancer.
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