Listed below are the definitions of cancer-related terms in alphabetical order.
Adjuvant therapy – Any form of therapy used as adjunct to other local modalities as part of the initial curative treatment to avoid a disease recurrence in high-risk patients.
Anaesthesia – The loss of feeling or sensation as a result of drugs. General anaesthesia causes temporary loss of consciousness. Local or regional anaesthesia numbs only a certain area.
Angioplasty – Dilatation of an occluded blood vessel. This can be done by inflating a balloon catheter to restore blood supply.
Benign tumour – An abnormal non-cancerous growth that does not spread to other sites in the body.
Biopsy – The removal of a sample of tissue to see whether cancer cells are present. There are several kinds of biopsies. In some, a very thin needle is used to draw fluid and cells from a lump. In a core biopsy, a larger needle is used to remove significantly more tissue.
Brachytherapy – Internal radiation treatment given by placing radioactive material directly into a tumour or close to it. Also called interstitial radiotherapy, intracavitary radiotherapy, intravascular
radiotherapy, or seed implantation.
Cancer – Cancer develops when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Normal cells grow, divide, and die. Instead of dying, cancer cells continue to grow and form new abnormal cells. Cancer cells often travel to other body parts where they grow and replace normal tissue. This process, called metastasis, occurs as the cancer cells get into the bloodstream or lymph vessels.
Carcinogen – A substance known to cause cancer.
Carcinoma – A malignant tumour that begins in the lining layer (epithelial cells) of organs. At least 80% of all cancers are carcinomas.
Catheter – A thin, flexible hollow tube. Catheters can be used to allow fluids to enter or leave the body. Catheters can also be used to insert temporary radioactive sources into tumours, as in breast brachytherapy or high dose rate prostate brachytherapy.
Cervix – The lower, narrow end of the uterus that forms a canal between the uterus and vagina.
Chemotherapy – Treatment with drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often used alone or with surgery or radiation to treat cancer.
CT scan – Computed tomography scan. 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. Also called computerized tomography and computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan.
External beam radiotherapy (external radiation) – Radiotherapy that uses a machine outside of the body to deliver high-energy rays directed at the cancer or tumour.
Gleason score – A system of grading prostate cancer cells describing how aggressive the cancer appears. It is used to determine the best treatment and to predict how well a person is likely to respond to treatment. The lower the Gleason score, the closer the cancer cells are to normal cells, the higher the Gleason score, the more abnormal the cancer cells.