The part of the body between the chest and hips, which contains the stomach, liver,
intestines, bladder and kidneys.
acute Happening suddenly
then subsiding after a short period of time. Brief and severe.
[a-den-o car-ci-no-ma] A cancer that involves the cells lining the walls of many
different organs of the body. It starts in glandular tissue or has a gland like
appearance. For example, it is a type of lung cancer that accounts for about one-quarter
of all lung cancers. This cancer starts in the bronchial glands that are found
in the mucous membrane lining the smaller airways.
[a-den-o-ma] A benign tumour (not a cancer) that starts in gland tissue or has
a gland-like appearance. An adenoma may become malignant (cancerous) if it is
adjuvant treatment [ad-ju-vant] Treatment
that aids or assists the main treatment, for example, adjuvant radiotherapy or
chemotherapy may be used before surgery to shrink a tumour, or after the main
treatment to eradicate any remaining cancer cells. Also called adjuvant therapy.
adrenal glands Triangular glands which cover the top
of each kidney. The glands produce adrenaline and some other hormones.
advanced cancer Cancer that has spread to other parts of the
body and/or is unlikely to be cured.
immuno-deficiency syndrome) [AIDS] (HIV) A viral disease (HIV) transmitted in
blood, semen and vaginal fluid that affects the body's immune system so that it
can no longer fight disease. Because of the weakened immune system, normally mild
infections take hold and become serious. Certain opportunistic cancers may occur,
for example Kaposi's sarcoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
tract [al-i-ment-a-ry] The long passage in which food passes through
the body and is digested. The alimentary tract consists of the mouth and throat
(pharynx), oesophagus, stomach, bowel (small and large intestine) and anus. Also
called the alimentary canal, or digestive tract: see gastrointestinal tract.
allogeneic Tissue from a donor.
[al-o-pe-cia] Loss of hair from the head or body. Alopecia often occurs as a result
of chemotherapy . Hair lost in this way usually regrows after treatment is completed.
anaemia [a-nae-mi-a] (adj. anaemic [a-nae-mic]) A reduction
in the amount of haemoglobin in the blood, or a reduction in the number of red
blood cells (which contain the haemoglobin). Anaemia decreases the amount of oxygen
carried to the body's tissues. Anaemia may cause tiredness and fatigue, breathlessness,
paleness and a poor resistance to infection
[an-aes-thet-ic] A drug administered to stop a person feeling pain, usually during
a medical procedure. A local anaesthetic is injected to numb a limited area of
the body, often to perform a biopsy. A general anaesthetic causes the person to
lose consciousness. With a spinal anaesthetic (spinal block, epidural), the anaesthetic
is injected into the space around the spinal cord to block all feeling from nerves
below that area. Spinal anaesthetics are sometimes used to treat cancer pain.
analgesic [an-al-ge-sic] A drug that is used to relieve
pain. Some can also be given to reduce fever.
The formation of new blood vessels to support tissue. Angiogenesis enables tumours
to develop their own blood supply, which helps them to survive and grow.
angiogram [an-gi-o gram]/angiography [an-gi-og-raphy] An
x-ray of blood vessels which have been injected with dye. An angiography is a
diagnostic test in which a radio-opaque dye is injected into the blood stream
and x-rays are then taken. The dye makes the blood vessels show up on the x-rays,
and any abnormal vessels can be seen. The x-ray is called an angiogram or, sometimes,
antibiotic [an-ti bi-ot-ic] A drug,
for example, penicillin, used to treat diseases caused by bacteria . Some chemotherapy
drugs are sometimes called anti-tumour antibiotics.
[an-ti bo-dy] Part of the body's immune system. Antibodies are proteins made by
the blood in response to an invader (antigen) in the body. They help protect against
viruses, bacteria and other foreign substances. Each antibody only acts against
one particular antigen, thus antibodies produced in response to, say, the mumps
virus will defend the body against mumps, but no other disease.
A substance that prevents blood clotting. It can be used when separating stem
cells from other blood cells during stem cell transplantation
[an-ti e-met-ic] A drug (or medicine) that helps to control nausea and vomiting,
including that caused by cancer or its treatment.
[an-ti fung-al] A drug or ointment used to treat or prevent fungal infections
such as Candida albicans. People receiving chemotherapy may be advised to use
antifungals as a preventive measure.
Common antigens include viruses, bacteria, foreign cells, pollen, and dust. When
antigens invade the body, the blood is stimulated to produce antibodies to fight
them. This reaction is part of the body's immune system.
[a-nus] The opening at the end of the anal canal through which faeces (bowel motions)
apheresis The process in which blood is
temporarily taken from the body, one or more parts of it removed, and the blood
transferred back into the body.
The brownish or pink area that surrounds the nipple of the breast.
embolisation A form of treatment for kidney cancer. It is usually used
for people who are not well enough to cope with surgery. The artery which feeds
the diseased kidney is blocked, causing the kidney and the tumour in the kidney
artery A blood vessel that carries blood away
from the heart.
asbestosis [as-bes to-sis] A chronic
lung disease caused by breathing in asbestos fibres.
[as-cit-es] A buildup of fluid in the abdomen, making it swollen and bloated,
which can be caused by the presence of cancer within the abdomenal cavity.
aspiration 1. Inhaling or breathing something other than
air into the lungs (when something 'goes down the wrong way'). 2. Removing fluid
or air from within the body by sucking it through a needle into a syringe. Fluid
may be aspirated from a breast lump. This fluid is usually examined under a microscope
to provide an accurate diagnosis .
The wasting away of an organ or tissues.
atypical ductal hyperplasia
A condition that can occur in the lining of the milk ducts in the breast. Sometimes
called ductal hyperplasia with atypia.
axilla [ax-il-la] (adj. axillary) / axillary
lymph nodes [ax-il-la-ry lymph nodes] Armpit. Axillary lymph nodes are located
deep in the armpit.
axillary clearance [ax-il-la-ry
clear-ance] Removal of the axillary lymph nodes during breast cancer surgery
bacteria [bac-te-ri-a] (sing. bacterium) A widely distributed
group of microorganisms which live in soil, water, air, plants, animals and humans.
Many do not harm their hosts, and some are actively helpful. But some cause disease
by producing poisons.
barium [bar-i-um] The common
name for barium sulphate. Often used in x-rays of the gastrointestinal tract because
it shows up clearly on x-rays (is radio-opaque). Before the x-ray is taken, the
barium is swallowed or introduced into the bowel via the anus , depending on the
part of the gut being investigated. When the x-ray is taken, the barium highlights
the shape of the gut.
barium enema [bar-i-um en-e-ma]
Barium sulphate is passed into the lower bowel through the anus. X-rays are then
taken and the barium clearly outlines the bowel, showing up any abnormalities.
basal cell carcinoma (BCC) [ba-sal cell car-ci-no-ma]
The most common and least dangerous type of skin cancer. BCC grows slowly and
rarely spreads. It usually appears on the face as a small round or flattened lump
in the skin. It will be red, pale or pearly in colour, easily detected and readily
cured if treated promptly. If left untreated, it may form deep ulcers sometimes
known as rodent ulcers.
BCG Bacillus Calmette-Guerin,
a bacterium responsible for tuberculosis, which is used to treat some bladder
benign Benign cells are not able to spread
like cancer cells.
benign fibrocystic changes [be-nign
fi-bro cys-tic changes] Benign changes within the breast that can cause lumpiness,
thickening or tenderness. The lumps are usually due to cysts which may need to
be biopsied or have a needle inserted for draining. They are not cancer and do
not develop into cancer.
bilateral [bi lat-er-al] On
both sides. Thus, bilateral breast cancer is cancer in both breasts
A fluid made in the liver and stored in the gall bladder . Also known as 'gall'.
It helps the digestion of fats.
bile duct The duct through
which bile from the liver passes to the duodenum .
[bi-op-sy] The removal of a small sample of tissue from the body for examination
under a microscope to help in diagnosing a disease. A needle biopsy, which can
be done in a doctor's rooms, involves using a fine needle to suck up a few cells.
An open biopsy (or surgical biopsy) involves a small operation, and is usually
done under general anaesthetic : see diagnosis , frozen section .
Drugs that help to make weak bones stronger and less likely to break.
bladder A sac with an elastic wall of muscle; found in the lower
part of the abdomen. The bladder stores urine until it is passed from the body.
It forms part of the urinary tract .
The surgical creation of a new 'bladder' from part of the bowel.
The fluid that circulates throughout the body via arteries and veins. It carries
food, oxygen, hormones and other chemicals to the body's cells, and helps remove
waste products from the cells. It is also important in fighting infection. Blood
consists of various different types of blood cells and platelets suspended in
a liquid called plasma . Plasma also contains substances to make blood clot, to
prevent bleeding. An average adult male has about 5 litres of blood: see white
blood cells , red blood cells .
blood cells Any of the
cells that form part of blood . There are two main types: red blood cells (erythrocytes)
which make up the vast majority, and white blood cells (leucocytes). Most blood
cells are formed in the bone marrow ; a few are formed in the spleen and lymph
glands . Also known as blood corpuscles.
Numbers of the different types of blood cells present in a given volume of blood
. Usually the red blood cells (erythrocytes) and white blood cells (leucocytes)
are counted, and sometimes the platelets . Normally each cubic millimetre of blood
contains about 5 million red blood cells in males, and 4.5 million in females.
A complete blood count (CBC) checks all of these. The level of haemoglobin may
also be checked. A differential blood count counts the different types of white
blood cells present. A full blood examination (FBE) is a more extensive test.
blood type Red blood cells have distinguishing features
which enable them to be identified into groups. The four main types are A, B,
AB, and O. Each person has only one type, referred to as their blood group. Before
a blood transfusion , both donor and patient blood must be typed, then cross-matched
to ensure they are compatible . For bone marrow transplants, it is necessary to
type white blood cells to ensure that the donor and recipient are compatible.
bone cancer Cancer that begins in the hard substance
of the bones (rather than in the bone marrow ). Bone cancer is not common. It
occurs in people of all ages, slightly more often among teenagers. Treatment usually
involves surgery and/or radiotherapy . The outlook (prognosis ) varies, depending
on the type of cancer. Bones are also a very common site for secondary cancers
(metastases ), which are not true bone cancers, but extensions of a primary cancer
in another part of the body.
bone marrow Soft, spongy
material that fills the cavities inside bones. Bone marrow produces most of the
body's blood cells , so disease of the bone marrow also affects the blood.
bone marrow biopsy The removal of a small amount of bone
marrow for examination under the microscope.
bone marrow transplantation
The replacement of diseased bone marrow with healthy bone marrow or to regenerate
bone marrow that has been destroyed by high dose chemotherapy . This may be done
to treat acute leukaemia. Firstly, high doses of chemotherapy and sometimes radiotherapy
are given to destroy the diseased (leukaemic) bone marrow. This is then replaced
with new, healthy bone marrow. An autologous transplant uses the patient's own
bone marrow, collected when the disease is under control (in remission ) and stored
for use when the disease becomes active. In an allogeneic transplant, the new
bone marrow is obtained from a compatible donor, usually a brother or sister:
see tissue typing , stem cell .
bone scan A picture
of the bones that can show cancers, other abnormalities and infection. When a
mildly radioactive substance is injected, cancerous areas in the bone pick up
more of the substance than normal bone. These show up as hot spots (darkened areas)
on pictures taken with a special camera. Most of the radioactive material is gone
from the body within a few hours: see nuclear medicine .
Also called the intestine or gut; the part of the gastrointestinal tract between
the stomach and the anus . The bowel is a tube about 8 metres long that lies curled
up in the abdomen. It completes the digestion and absorption of food, and gets
rid of the remaining wastes. It is divided into two main parts: the small intestine
and the large intestine (also called the large bowel ). The small intestine consists
of three parts: the duodenum, jejunum, and the ileum. Then comes the large intestine,
made up of the colon and the rectum , and ending at the anus .
cancer A cancer that starts on the inside wall of the bowel. The vast
majority of bowel cancers develop in the large bowel. They are often known as
colorectal cancer. Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer for both males
and females in South Australia. It is uncommon under the age of forty, and is
slightly more common in men than in women. Where possible, treatment is surgery,
with or without radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Surgery sometimes involves creating
a colostomy (an artificial opening for the bowel on the wall of the abdomen),
but in about 90 per cent of cases this is either not necessary or only a temporary
brachytherapy [bra-chy ther-a-py] The use of
radioactive implants to treat cancer; a form of radiotherapy .
tumour Brain tumours may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Malignant brain tumours are comparatively rare, but are the most common cancer
in children; they also occur in young adults. There are various types, named according
to the type of cells involved; the outlook (prognosis ) for different types varies
considerably. In adults, the main types are glioblastoma, meningioma, and astro-cytoma.
In children, the main types are medulloblastoma, astrocytoma, glioblastoma, ependymoma,
and cranio-pharyngioma. Brain tumours are treated with surgery and/or radiotherapy
. The brain is also a common site for secondary tumours that have come from a
cancer elsewhere in the body. These are known as cerebral (or brain) secondaries;
they are not true brain tumours.
breast The gland in
a woman that produces milk. Each breast consists of a number of lobes (divisions)
which contain milk sacs where the milk is produced. The lobes are surrounded by
fatty tissue. Milk ducts (small pipes) lead from the lobes and join together to
form fifteen or twenty larger ducts which carry milk to the nipple.
cancer A cancer that starts in the breast tissue. Most breast cancers begin in
the milk ducts : these are called intraductal cancers. A few, like lobular cancer,
start in the milk sacs or lobes . In Australian women, breast cancer is the second
most common cancer after skin cancer; it is rare in men. Women with a family history
of breast cancer are at greater risk . See lobular cancer .
implant A pouch filled with saline solution (sterile salt water) used
to build a new breast in cases where the woman's breast has been removed because
of breast cancer . Implants come in various shapes and sizes and are chosen to
suit the individual: see breast reconstruction . Also called a breast prosthesis
breast reconstruction The surgical rebuilding of
a breast after mastectomy (removal of the breast). This may be done at the time
of the original mastectomy operation or some time later. The surgeon may build
a new breast using skin and muscle from another part of the body (a flap reconstruction),
and/or an artificial breast implant may be used to create a breast. It may also
involve using a tissue expander to stretch the skin gradually so there is enough
to cover a breast implant: see reconstructive surgery .
self-examination (BSE) A simple procedure by which a woman can examine
her breasts thoroughly to detect any lump or change that may be a sign of breast
bronchoscope [bron-cho scope] An instrument
used to look into the air passages of the lungs . It consists of a long, thin,
flexible tube that is inserted through the nose or mouth and sent down the windpipe
(trachea ). It can also be used to take a small sample of tissue from the lungs
for biopsy: see endoscope , fibre optics .
[bron-chus] (pl. bronchi) Any of the larger air passages of the lungs beyond the
windpipe (trachea ).
BSE see breast self-examination.
CA 125 Tumour markers
Calcification Small deposits of calcium
seen as dots on a mammogram.
cancer A general term for
abnormal cell growth and its uncontrolled spread. Cancer cells maygrow into a
lump called a malignant tumour . They may invade and damage surroundingtissue.
Some may also break away from the original (primary) cancer asnd travel in the
bloodor lymphatic system to other parts of the body, where they form secondary
tumours (metastases). The five main types of cancer are carcinomas, sarcomas,
myelomas,lymphomas and leukaemia . Cancers at different sites in the body are
carcinogen [car-cin-o-gen] (adj.
carcinogenic) Any substance that can cause cancer.
[car-ci-no-ma] Cancer that starts in epithelial tissue, that is, the tissue that
forms the base of the skin and the lining of the body's inner surfaces, bowel,
carcinoma in situ Cancer
that involves only the cells in which it began and has not spread to nearby tissues.
cardiovascular system [car-di-o vas-cu-lar sys-tem] Consists of the heart and
a network of blood vessels. The cardiovascular system is responsible for circulating
the blood around thebody, which carries nutrients and oxygen to the tissues and
removes waste products. Alsocalled the circulatory system.
scan see CT scan
catheter [cath-e-ter] A hollow, flexible
tube through which fluids can be passed into the bodyor drained from it. Sometimes
used for specialised tests. A urinary catheter is sometimesused for a time after
surgery to drain urine from the bladder.
tissue by burning.
cell Cells are the basic building
block of the body. They are microscopic in size. They contain cytoplasm and a
nucleus enclosed within the cell membrane. The human body consists of millions
of cells of many different types, each type specialised to perform a particular
function. Skin cells, for example, are flattish and arranged in sheets; nerve
cells are long and slender: see differentiated cells.
The process by which cells divide in two to reproduce and replace themselves.
central nervous system (CNS) The brain and spinal cord.
cervical [cer-vi-cal] Of either the neck or the cervix .
cervical smear [cer-vi-cal smear] see Pap test .
cervix [cer-vix] The narrow passage that connects the uterus
with the vagina. Sometimes called the neck of the womb .
[che-mo ther-a-py]The use of particular drugs (cytotoxic drugs ) to kill cancer
cells or slow down their growth (control cancer). Chemotherapy can also be used
to relieve symptoms. The drugs used also affect normal cells and can cause undesirable
side effects ,so the dosage must be carefully controlled. Most side-effects can
be controlled or prevented, and most are temporary.
an illness that continues over a long time, with slow changes.
lymphoid leukaemia (CLL) [chron-ic lym-phoid leu-kae-mia] CLL is a type
of leukaemia that usually occurs in older people; it is rare in people under the
age of 35. People with CLL have too many immature lymphocytes in their blood .
Also called chronic lymphatic leukaemia or chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
circulatory system The vessels and organs that enable blood
to flow around the body.
clinical trial Clinical trials
test new cancer treatments or may compare existing treatments to determine the
best way of improving health outcomes. The research is called a trial because
it is uncertain whether a new treatment is better than existing ones.
colitis [col-i-tis] Inflammation of the colon and rectum . The
symptoms are usually diarrhoea and pain in the lower abdomen. In ulcerative colitis,
ulcers also form in the area.
colon [co-lon] The colon
is the part of the bowel between the end of the small intestine and the rectum
colorectal cancer [co-lo rec-tal can-cer] see bowel
colostomy [col-os-to-my] A surgical operation
in which the colon is cut and brought to the surface of the abdomen to form an
artificial opening (stoma) which allows the bowel to pass faeces for collection
into a removable colostomy bag secured over the stoma.
[col-pos-co-py]/colposcope [col-po-scope] The use of a colposcope to examine the
vagina and cervix : see endoscope.
compatible The term
used to describe the people donating and receiving a tissue transplant or blood
transfusion . If the two are compatible, their tissues and blood are very alike,
which means that the recipient's body is less likely to reject the transplant
by forming antibodies against it: see tissue typing .
[con-gen-i-tal] Existing from birth. Congenital diseases or deformities may have
been contracted in the womb or may have been passed on genetically by either or
both parents. They are usually recognised at birth, but some congenital conditions,
though present at birth, may not be recognised for some time.
needle biopsy The core biopsy removes a sliver of tissue for pathology
cross-matching see blood typing .
CT scan [C-T scan] Computerised tomography scan (formerly CAT
scan) is a technique for constructing pictures from cross-sections of the body
by x-raying the part of the body to be examined from many different angles. Radio-opaque
dyes are usually injected or swallowed first to enable the body structures to
show up clearly under x-ray. The x-ray information, which is fed directly into
a computer, is used to build up detailed cross-section pictures of the body.
cure A cure in cancer means that there is no evidence of
cancer being present and a person's illness has gone completely. The length of
time for cancer to be considered cured varies, but at least five years remission
is a minimum.
cutaneous [cu-ta-ne-ous] Of the skin .
cyst An abnormal sac or closed cavity in the body. A cyst
may be small or large, and may contain liquid or semi-solid material. There are
many different types of cyst, arising in different parts of the body, with different
cystectomy [cyst-ec-to-my] Surgical removal
of the bladder .
Cystoscope An instrument that allows
the doctor to see inside the bladder. It also allows removal of tissue samples
or small tumours. Cystoscopy is the name for this procedure.
[cyst-i-tis] Inflammation of the bladder .
[cy-to tox-ic] Drugs or medicines that damage or destroy cells. Cytoxic drugs
are used in chemotherapy, used to treat cancer.
dermis One of two main layers that make up the skin. The dermis
is the second layer, which contains the roots of hairs, glands which make sweat,
blood and lymph vessels and nerves.
detection The discovery
of an abnormality or disease in the body. 'Early
is the discovery of an abnormality at an early stage when it is readily treated
and, in the case of cancer , much more likely to be curable.
The identification and naming of a person's disease. Many factors are taken into
account, including previous medical background, symptoms, findings from a physical
examination, blood tests, other laboratory tests, x-rays and possibly a biopsy
. differentiated cells Mature cells that perform a specific function in the body,
for example, blood cells , bone cells, or skin cells, and are clearly different
from other types of cell: see cell .
digital rectal examination
(DRE) A procedure in which the doctor or nurse inserts a gloved finger into the
patient's rectum to examine this area. It is also possible to examine the prostate
gland through the wall of the rectum.
[dis-sem-i-na-ted can-cer] Cancer that is no longer confined to one part of the
body, but has begun to metastasise, or spread, throughout the body.
[di-u-ret-ic] A substance that helps the body to get rid of excess fluid by passing
donor The person giving tissue or organ
for transplanting. The person receiving it is the host .
A small tube in the body, usually one that carries the substances secreted from
glands . In the breast , the milk ducts carry milk from the milk sacs to the nipple.
ductal carcinoma [duc-tal car-ci-no-ma]see intraductal carcinoma
duodenum The first part of the small bowel. It receives
bile from the gall bladder and pancreatic juice from the pancreasdysplastic
moles [dys-plas-tic] Abnormal moles that are not cancer but may turn
into cancer. Also called dysplastic naevi.
electrosurgery The use of electrodes, which are devices (like
wires) that conduct electricity, to remove diseased tissue, like tumours.endocrinologist
[en-do-crin ol-o-gist] A doctor specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of
endometrial cancer [en-do me-tri-al
can-cer] see uterine cancer.
endoscopy [en dos-co-py]/endoscope
[en-do scope] Endoscopy is the procedure of looking inside the body using an endoscope,
which is an instrument consisting of a thin, flexible tube with a light at the
end that is inserted into a body opening (mouth, anus, vagina, urethra) to enable
a direct view of structures inside the body. Many endoscopes can also be used
to take a sample of tissue for biopsy, or to remove small growths: see fibre optics.
enema [en-e-ma] A procedure to wash out faeces from the
bowel, to insert drugs for treatment, or, in the case of a barium enema , to examine
the bowel under x-ray .
engraft When transplanted bone
marrow begins to produce red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
enzyme Proteins that are essential for the normal functioning
and performance of the body.
epidermis [ep-i-der-mis] One of two main
layers that make up the skin. The epidermis is the surface layer, which contains
basal cells, squamous cellswhich contain keratin, a protective substance
that resists heat, cold and the effects of many chemicalsand melanocyteswhich
epidural anaesthetic [ep-i-du-ral an-aes-thet-ic]
esophagus [e-soph-a-gus] see oesophagus.
extravasation [ex-tra va-sa-tion] Where blood or lymph leaks
and spreads from the vessels into the surrounding tissues, as a result of injury
or allergy. Extravasation of chemotherapy drugs can occur when the drug leaks
out of the vein when chemotherapy is being administered intravenously. Some chemotherapy
can cause damage to the tissues around the site of extravasation.
fallopian tube [fal-lo-pi-an]The tube that carries ova (eggs)
from the ovary to the uterus . Each woman has two Fallopian tubes, one from each
false positive A test result that wrongly indicates
that a particular disease or condition is present.
febrile [fe-brile] Relating
to or affected by fever (a 'temperature').
fever A rise
in body temperature above the normal (37°C). It is usually caused by a viral or
fibre optics The use of long, flexible
fibres, usually made of very fine clear glass or plastic, to transmit light and
images. Techniques involving fibre optics are often used to look at structures
inside the body that would otherwise be inaccessible without surgery: see endoscope
fibroadenoma [fi-bro ad-e-no-ma] A solid, benign lump
(not a cancer ) made up of fibrous and glandular tissue. Many breast lumps found
in younger women are fibroadenomas.
fibrocystic breast disease
[fi-bro cys-tic] see benign fibrocystic changes .
[fi-broid] A benign growth that may develop in the wall of the uterus . Fibroids
are common, especially in women over fifty. Some become very large, and may cause
bleeding and pain, though they usually shrink after menopause. They do not need
to be removed unless they are causing problems. Also called fibroid tumour, uterine
fibroma , fibromyoma.
fibroma [fi-bro-ma] A benign tumour
(not a cancer ) that forms in connective tissue.
[fi-bro sar-co-ma] A malignant tumour (a cancer ) that starts in connective tissue.
Fibrosarcomas are found in people of all ages; they may be congenital . They occur
most commonly in the leg, though they may be in any organ . Fibrosarcomas in soft
tissue have a considerably better outlook(prognosis ) than those starting in bone.
fistula [fis-tu-la] An unwanted hole or opening between
two hollow parts of the body such as the intestine and the stomach , or between
a hollow organ and the outside, for example, a hole in the skin . A fistula can
be caused by infection, the breakdown of a wound after surgery, an ulcer , or
a cancer .
frozen section A sample of tissue obtained
in a biopsy is frozen, then sliced very thinly and the slices (frozen sections)
are examined under the microscope.
gall bladder A pear-shaped organ on the underside of the liver
where bile is stored. Bile is transferred from the gall bladder to the duodenum
via the bile duct .
gamma rays A form of radiation that comes from a radioisotope.
Gamma rays are commonly used in radiotherapy and also in some radioisotope scans
to treat cancer .
ganglion [gang-li-on] (pl. ganglia)
A thin-walled, harmless cyst or non-cancerous swelling that may appear in the
tendons or joints, especially at the wrist.
[gas-trec-to-my] The removal of the stomach , or of part of it, by surgery.
gastrointestinal tract [gas-tro in-tes-tin-al] The gut.
It starts at the stomach and includes the large intestine and small intestine
, (also called the large bowel and small bowel). See bowel.
[gas-tro-scope] A thin, flexible, tube-like instrument that is used to see into
and take photographs inside the stomach . This process is called a gastroscopy.
A gastroscope can also be used to take samples of tissue for biopsy and to remove
small growths: see endoscope , fibre optics .
tiny factors that govern the way the body's cells grow and behave. Each person
has a set of many thousands of genes inherited from both parents. Genes are found
in every cell of the body.
giant cells tumour A tumour
that occurs in bone. Giant cells tumours may be benign (not a cancer ) or malignant
(a cancer); malignant giant cells tumours usually develop from benign ones. They
most often occur in the long bones of the leg, but may occur anywhere: see bone
gland (adj. glandular) An organ or group of
cells that makes certain fluids (hormones , saliva, sweat) that are used in the
body or excreted.
glioblastoma [gli-o bla-sto-ma] One
of the most malignant of brain tumours . It occurs in children and adults: see
glioma [gli-o-ma] Any tumour that starts in
the connective tissue (the glia) of the nervous system. They range from slow-growing
benign tumours to cancers that grow rapidly to invade surrounding tissues. The
term is sometimes used to describe all tumours of the brain and spinal cord.
goitre A swelling in the neck due to enlargement of the
thyroid gland . One form, toxic nodular goitre, sometimes develops into thyroid
graft Any organ or tissue that is transplanted
to replace a part. The transplantation may come from one part of a person's body
to another, or from another person.
factor (G-CSF) A protein that stimulates the growth and maturation of
growth factor A substance that stimulates
cells to reproduce and rapidly multiply.
[gy-nae co-log-i-cal on-col-o-gist] A doctor who specialises in treating women
diagnosed with cancer of the reproductive organs.
[gy-nae-col-o-gist]A doctor who specialises in conditions affecting women, particularly
conditions of the reproductive system
haem(o)-, haemat(o) - Of the blood .haematology
[hae-ma-tol-o-gy] The branch of medicine that studies the blood . A doctor specialising
in diseases of the blood is called a haematologist.
An accumulation of blood in the tissues that clots to form a solid swelling.
haematuria [hae-ma tu-ri-a] Blood in the urine.
hepatoblastoma [he-pat-o bla-sto-ma] A type of liver cancer that
occurs in children, often confined to one lobe of the liver . In such cases, it
may be surgically removed.
The study of body cells and of the structure of body tissues, using a microscope.
HIV see AIDS .
see lymphoma .
hormone (adj. hormonal) A substance which
has a specific effect on the way the body works. Made in very small amounts by
a gland , various hormones help to regulate and coordinate growth, metabolism
and reproduction. They are distributed in the bloodstream.
receptors Indicators on the surface of some cancer cells that suggest
the cancer depends on hormones to help it grow, and it may thus respond to hormone
therapy : seeoestrogen receptor test , progesterone receptor test .
replacement therapy (HRT) Female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone)
given to women after the menopause (change of life) to replace the hormones no
longer produced by the ovaries. HRT is often prescribed after ovarian cancer surgery.
hospice care, palliative care Care that provides for all
the medical and nursing needs of the patient for whom cure is not possible, and
for all the psychological, social and spiritual needs of the patient and family,
for the duration of the patient's illness, and includes bereavement care.
host The person receiving a transplanted tissue or organ
hot spot Injected radioisotopes travel via the bloodstream
to a cancer in the body where they show up as radioactive spots (hot spots) during
bone scans : see nuclear medicine .
human immunodeficiency virus
(HIV) [hu-man im-mu-no de-fic-ien-cy vi-rus, H-I-V] see AIDS .
The presence of an abnormally high level of calcium in the blood, usually due
to the breakdown of bone. This can cause nausea, pain, thirst and confusion.
hypernephroma [hy-per neph-ro-ma] see renal cell carcinoma
hyperplasia [hy-per pla-si-a] The increased growth
or production of normal cells in part of the body. This may occur normally in
some conditions, such as when the breasts enlarge during pregnancy. However when
it occurs in the lining of the uterus (endometrial hyperplasia), it may develop
into cancer of the uterus (uterine cancer ).
[hy-per ther-mi-a] 1. Greatly increased body temperature. 2. The use of heat to
kill cancer cells. It is sometimes used to enhance the effect of radiotherapy
. Many doctors feel hyperthermia has not been proved to be an effective treatment.
hysterectomy [hys-ter ec-to-my] The surgical removal of
the uterus and the cervix
ileal conduit A small 'pouch' created from a piece of the bowel
to hold urine. It takes the place of the bladder. A stoma allows urine collected
in the ileal conduit to flow into a bag.
The body's natural defence system. It protects against anything it recognises
as an 'invader', for example bacteria, viruses, transplanted organs and tissues,
tumour cells and parasites.
immunocompromised [imm-u-no com-pro-mised] This
means the immune system is not working properly, possibly as the result of disease
or a genetic condition, or it may be a side-effect of drugs (medicines), for example,
some chemotherapy drugs used in cancer treatment. It can also be a side-effect
of radiotherapy if a large area is treated.
[imm-u-no sup-pres-sion] When the body's immune system is deliberately suppressed
(for example, when a person receives an organ or tissue transplant) by the use
of immunosuppressive drugs or medicines given to reduce the possibility that the
immune system in the host body will reject the new organ or tissue. A drug (medicine)
is considered immunosuppressive if it reduces the body's resistance to infection
and other foreign bodies. However, a side-effect of immunosuppression is that
the person is also more likely to develop infections and cancers of the skin or
lymph tissue .
immunotherapy [imm-u-no ther-a-py] A
treatment that attempts to use the body's own defences to fight cancer by trying
to strengthen the immune system so it will destroy the cancer cells.
implant [im-plant] see radioactive implant .
The number of new cases of a disease occurring during a given period (usually
one year) in a specific population, for example, in Victoria the incidence of
cancer (excluding basal and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin) in 1994 was about
364 per 100,000 men and 270 per 100,000 women.
1. Loss of control over the bladder and urine; wetting. 2. Inability to control
infiltration Where cancer cells spread
into surrounding tissue. Also called local invasion .
carcinoma [in-flam-ma-to-ry car-ci-no-ma] A type of breast cancer that
usually presents with a noticeable warmth and reddening of thebreast skin. There
may also be puckering of the skin and swelling of the breast.
consent A legal standard that requires a patient to be fully informed
about the potential risks and benefits of therapies such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy
and the procedures of surgery before undergoing such therapy or surgery. Once
they are aware of the procedure(s), the patient signs a form giving medical staff
permission to proceed.
infusaport [in-fu-sa-port] see
intravenous access device .
infusion The slow release
of a substance into a blood vessel or into tissue beneath the skin . Drugs or
intravenous feeding may be deliverd this way: see intravenous access device .
insulin A substance in the pancreas which regulates the
amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. If the body does not produce enough insulin,
diabetes will develop.
Proteins produced by the body that can help the immune system fight cancer. Interferons
can also slow the growth of cancer cells or make them act like normal cells. These
proteins can be made in a laboratory and used in immunotherapy.
Proteins produced by the body that can help the immune system to fight cancer.
Interleukins stimulate the growth of the white blood cells that can kill cancer
cells. These proteins can be made in a laboratory and used in immunotherapy.
internal radiation Radiotherapy using radioactive implants
intestine [in-tes-tine] see bowel .
carcinoma [in-tra duc-tal car-ci-no-ma] The most common type of breast
cancer , which begins in the milk ducts : see breast . Also called ductal carcinoma
, intraductal cancer.
intraductal papilloma [in-tra
duc-tal pap-ill-o-ma] A papilloma (benign growth, not a cancer ) in the milk ducts
of the breast . May develop into breast cancer : see precancerous condition .
intravenous (IV) [in-tra ve-nous] Into a vein. An intravenous
drip gives drugs directly into a vein.
intravenous access device
[in-tra ve-nous ac-cess de-vice]A system for giving drugs directly into a large
vein near the heart. It is used particularly for chemotherapy drugs (which can
damage smaller veins), blood or nutrition (intravenous feeding). It may also be
used to take blood samples. Cook's catheter and Hichman's catheter are two forms
of intravenous access device. Porta cath is the trade name for a form of intravenous
access device carried on the patient's body. Also known as drug delivery system,
central venous catheter, central line.
intravesical chemotherapy Chemotherapy
in a fluid, which is put into the bladder through a tube into the urethra.
invasive cancer [in-va-sive can-cer] A cancer that has started
to invade the tissues surrounding it.
Exposure to any form of radiant energy (or radiation ) including heat, sunlight,
x-rays , gamma rays . Radiotherapy uses irradiation with x-rays or gamma rays
to treat cancer .
IV see intravenous .
jaundice A disease caused by increased amounts of bile in the
blood. This causes the skin and the whites of the eyes to turn yellow. It also
causes tiredness and loss of appetite.
One of three portions of the small bowel , below the duodenum and leading into
Kaposi's sarcoma [Ka-po-si's sar-co-ma] Sarcoma
of unknown tissue origin which appears on the skin , in the oral cavity, lungs
and visceral cavity.
kidney cancer Most cancers of the
kidney are renal cell carcinomas (also known as hypernephromas), a type of adenocarcinoma
that usually occurs in adults.
kidneys The two organs
in the abdomen that remove waste from the blood (as urine).
[lap-a-ros-co-py], laparoscope [lap-a-ro-scope] The process of looking
into the abdomen using a laparoscope in order to establish a diagnosis, particularly
of liver , bowel and pelvic conditions: see endoscopy , fibre optics .
large bowel Consists of the colon and rectum : see bowel. Also
called large intestine.
large cell carcinoma A type
of lung cancer that usually develops in the airways and is characterised by large
rounded cells . It accounts for about 16 per cent of all lung cancers.
laryngeal carcinoma [la-ryn-ge-al car-ci-no-ma] Cancer of the
larynx . This is considerably more common in men than in women. Most cancers of
the larynx occur on the vocal cords ; hoarseness is an early symptom. Many can
be cured if diagnosed at an early stage: see laryngectomy .
[la-ryn-gec-to-my] A total laryngectomy is the surgical removal of the larynx
or voice box . A partial laryngectomy is the removal of part of the larynx: the
voice is preserved, though it may be slightly changed.
[la-rynx] The voice box , or Adam's apple, which sits in the front of the neck.
It contains the vocal cords. During swallowing, the vocal cords close together
to prevent food and saliva entering the windpipe. They also vibrate together to
laser An instrument that produces an
intense beam of light used in surgical procedures. It can work on a very small
area with great precision without damaging surrounding tissue. It can be used
to remove abnormal cells .
lesion [le-sion] Any abnormality
in tissues of the body caused by disease or injury.
(or leukocyte) [leu-co-cyte] see white blood cell .
[leu-kae-mi-a] Cancer that affects the bone marrow and organs that manufacture
blood (lymph nodes, spleen). In leukaemia, large numbers of abnormal white blood
cells (known as leukaemic blasts) are produced, and this suppresses the production
of normal blood cells . Leukaemia may be acute , progressing rapidly over days
or weeks, or chronic , progressing slowly over months or years: see white blood
lipoma [lip-o-ma] A soft, fatty benign tumour
(not a cancer ) that lies directly under the skin . Lipomas may be very small
or as big as a grapefruit, and are very common. They are sometimes removed for
liposarcoma [lip-o sar-co-ma] A cancer
that forms in fat cells , liposarcomas are common in soft tissue - most commonly
the thigh - but rare in bone. It rarely occurs in people under the age of thirty.
liver A large organ in the upper right side of the
abdomen, directly under the diaphragm. It is made up of four connected lobes ,
and weighs up to about 1.6 kg. Among its many functions are breaking down old
red blood cells to form bile, producing proteins needed for blood clotting, regulating
the level of many hormones , storing sugar and regulating the amount of sugar
in the blood , storing vitamins A, B12, D and K, and storing and metabolising
liver cancer Cancer that begins in the liver is uncommon in Australia.
Treatment may be surgery and/or chemotherapy . However it is common to find secondary
tumours (metastases ) in the liver, that is, cancers that have spread to the liver
from another part of the body. These 'liver secondaries' are not true liver cancers,
and treatment will depend on the site and type of the primary or original cancer.
liver function tests A simple blood test that gives information
about how the liver is functioning.
liver scan A test
used to discover the size, shape and position of the liver and to detect any tumours
: see nuclear medicine .
lobe A major division of an
organ of the body, often separated from other lobes by deep splits. The liver
is made up of four lobes, the right lung has three lobes, and the left lung, two.
lobectomy [lo-bec-to-my] The surgical removal of a lobe
of the liver or a lung.
lobular cancer [lob-u-lar can-cer]
A breast cancer that starts in the milk sacs in one of the lobes of the breast
local excision The surgical removal of a localised
cancer , that is, one that has not spread beyond its original site: see lumpectomy
local invasion see infiltration .
recurrence see recurrence .
A diagnostic test in which a sample of cerebrospinal fluid is taken from the area
around the spinal cord and examined under the microscope. The fluid may show evidence
of tumour , infection, or inflammation in the central nervous system .
lumbar spine The section of backbone in the small of the back,
just above the buttocks.
The surgical removal of a lump, particularly in relation to breast cancer to describe
the removal of a breast lump with some of the surrounding healthy tissue, without
removing the whole breast : see local excision .
disease see benign fibrocystic changes .
lungs The two
sponge-like, pinkish-grey organs in the chest cavity. The lungs wrap around the
heart and the oesophagus . Air enters the lungs via the windpipe. Oxygen processed
from this air passes into the bloodstream.
Cancer that starts in the lung or in the lining of the air passages leading to
the lung. There are several different types of lung cancer that are named according
to the type of cell involved.
lung function tests see
pulmonary function tests .
lymph A clear fluid that
contains white blood cells , antibodies, and wastes carried from the body tissues,
lymph is present throughout the body in a network of lymphatic vessels.
lymph glands see lymph nodes .
Small bean-shaped structures scattered along the lymphatic vessels, particularly
in the neck, armpit and groin. They filter the lymph to remove bacteria and other
harmful agents to prevent them from entering the bloodstream. Lymph nodes also
produce lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell . Also called lymph glands (although
they are not true glands ). Lymph node negative test results show no cancer cells
in the lymph nodes. Lymph node positive test results show that cancer cells are
present in the lymph nodes.
lymph tissue see lymphoid
lymphatic system, lymphatic vessels The lymphatic
system is part of the immune system, which protects the body against 'invaders',
like bacteria and parasites. The lymphatic system is a network of small lymph
nodes connected by very thin lymph vessels, which branch into every part of the
lymphocyte A type of white blood cell formed in
lymph nodes. It is part of the body's immune system which helps to fight infection.
lymphoedema [lymph-oe-de-ma] Swelling caused by a buildup
of lymph ; this happens when there is a insufficient draining in lymphatic vessels
or lymph nodes , and can occur following some cancer treatments.
tissue [lym-phoid] Tissue where lymphocytes and antibodies are made.
The lymph nodes , tonsils, thymus and spleen are made up of lymph tissue; it also
forms part of other tissues. It is important in fighting infection. Also called
lymphoma [lym-pho-ma] Lymphomas are divided
into two major types: Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Most arise
in a lymph node, but sometimes a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma may begin in lymph tissue
in the stomach, bone or small intestine. Some non-Hodgkin's lymphomas tend to
appear simultaneously in several parts of the body.
resonance imaging (MRI) A diagnostic test that uses a combination of
magnetism and radio waves to build up detailed cross-section pictures (or images)
of part of a person's body. The test involves lying on a couch inside a metal
cylinder (which forms a very large magnet) that is open at both ends. It may take
up to one hour to complete, but is completely painless.
Cancerous. Malignant cells can spread (metastasise) and can eventually
cause death if they cannot be treated.
A tumour that is cancerous. A malignant tumour may invade and destroy surrounding
tissues and can spread to other parts of the body: see benign.
dysplasia [mam-ma-ry dys-pla-si-a] see benign fibrocystic changes.
mammography [mam-mog-ra-phy] A method of x-ray for early
detection of breast cancer. Mammography may detect breast cancer before a lump
can be felt. The x-ray itself is called a mammogram.
[mas-tec-to-my] The surgical removal of a breast or part of a breast to treat
breast cancer. Radical mastectomy is rarely done now. The operation most frequently
performed is the modified radical mastectomy in which the entire breast and some
lymph nodes in the armpit are removed, but no muscle. In subcutaneous mastectomy
the breast tissue is removed but the skin and nipple are left, and can later be
used to reconstruct the breast: see breast reconstruction.
imaging The use of a wide range of techniques to provide images of the
inside of the body. In some hospitals, radiology and nuclear medicine are both
part of a medical imaging department: see scan.
The brown pigment which gives the skin its colour. Its role is to protect the
body against the damaging effect of the ultraviolet rays present in sunlight and
tanning machines in solariums.
melanocytes Cells in
the epidermis and elsewhere that produce melanin.
A very malignant form of skin cancer. Melanomas can occur anywhere on the body,
including in the eye and the mucous membranes. A melanoma looks like a mole or
freckle. It usually has an irregular outline and may vary in colour from black
to almost white and in the early stages it is quite flat. The main symptom is
a change in size, shape or colour over a period of weeks or months. A melanoma
may start in an existing freckle or mole, but more often they start in normal-looking
membrane A thin layer of tissue which covers a
surface, lines a cavity or divides a space or organ.
[men-in-gi o-ma] A slow-growing tumour that arises in the meninges, the membranes
that cover the brain and spinal cord. Some meningiomas are malignant : see brain
metastasis [me-ta-sta-sis] (pl. metastases)
An extension of the primary tumour . It develops in a part of the body away from
the original (primary) cancer . When cancer cells break away from the original
tumour and are carried by the lymph and blood systems to other parts of the body
they are said to metastasise. Even though the metastasis may be far away, it is
not a new cancer: see cancer . Also known as secondary tumour or metastatic tumour.
metastasise [me-ta-sta-sise] see metastasis .
[mi-cro cal-ci fi-ca-tions] Tiny flecks of calcium that may be present in the
breast that will show up on a mammogram. A cluster of microcalcifications suggests
that breast cancer may be present.
milk duct/milk sac
see breast .
mole A term that loosely describes any
pigmented (coloured), fleshy growth on the skin .
[mon-il-i-a] Former name for the fungus now called Candida albicans.
morbidity Sickness, illness.
A strong and effective painkiller which is used commonly to treat people with
cancer who have pain.
MRI see magnetic resonance imaging
mucositis [mu-co-si-tis] see stomatitis .
multiple myeloma [my-e-lo-ma] A cancer of the plasma cells .
Abnormal plasma cells are produced in large numbers in the bone marrow . This
limits production of red blood cells and white blood cells , so that people are
often anaemic and more likely to develop infection. The abnormal plasma cells
can also destroy normal bone tissue, causing the bones to become very brittle
and fracture easily (see osteoporosis ). The first symptom of multiple myeloma
is usually bone pain, especially in the back.
mutation A change in the genetic
material of a cell . This may occur spontaneously or be caused by something outside
the cell (a mutagen).
myeloid [my-e-loid] Of the bone
myeloma [my-e-lo-ma]A cancer that arises in
plasma cells that are found in the bone marrow : see multiple myeloma
nadir The lowest point. Sometimes used to describe the lowest
point reached by the blood count after it has been affected by chemotherapy .
nasogastric tube A fine plastic tube that passes in through
the nose, down the throat and directly into the stomach. It is used to feed someone
who has temporary problems with eating or swallowing.
[neb-u-li-ser] A device that turns liquid into a fine mist or spray often used
to administer drugs that relieve breathing difficulties.
dissection see radical neck dissection .
[neph-rec-to-my] Surgical removal of a kidney. When cancer is the cause of removal,
the adrenal gland is also removed.
see tumour .
nerve block A method of numbing a part
of the body by injecting a local anaesthetic to block the nerve impulses, including
pain, coming from that area.
nervous system The vast
network of specialised nerve cells that carry information in the form of nerve
impulses to and from all parts of the body in order to bring about bodily activity.
It includes the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), which coordinates
activity, and the peripheral nervous system, which comprises all the nerves that
lie outside the brain and spinal cord.
bla-sto-ma] A malignant tumour or cancer that occurs in children which starts
in nervous system tissue.
neurofibroma [neu-ro fi-bro-ma]
see neuroma .
neurofibromatosis [neu-ro fi-bro-ma to-sis]
A congenital condition where there are many benign tumours growing from the fibrous
coverings of nerves. They sometimes become malignant . This condition is often
associated with a tumour of the adrenal gland.
[neu-ro-ma] A slow-growing benign tumour (not a cancer ) growing from a nerve.
The most common type is an acoustic neuroma, which appears on the acoustic nerve
that goes to the ear. They may cause deafness if not treated. Also called neurofibroma,
neurilemmoma, neurinoma, Schwannoma.
sur-geon] A surgeon who specialises in operations on the nervous system , particularly
the brain and spinal cord.
node, nodule Both words describe
a swelling or lump that may be normal or abnormal: see lymph node .
lymphoma see lymphoma .
nuclear medicine The
use of small doses of radioisotopes to examine or scan the structure and/or function
of various parts of the body. Tumours may show up because they take up a different
amount of the isotope to surrounding tissue. Radioisotopes lose their radioactivity
very quickly, so they are not damaging to the body's tissues. They are also rapidly
excreted from the body: see PET scan , liver scan , hot spot .
cell carcinoma see small cell carcinoma .
[oe-de-ma] Swelling caused by an excessive accumulation of fluid in the tissues
of the body, i.e. outside the circulatory system.
cancer [oe-soph-a-ge-al can-cer] Cancer of the oesophagus . The most
common symptom is difficulty swallowing.
[oe-soph-a-gus] The gullet; the tube that connects the throat with the stomach
, down which food passes.
The branch of medicine concerned with children and their diseases.
disease 1. A chronic disease of the bones that occurs in elderly people
and causes bone deformities. It is not a cancer , but it can sometimes lead to
osteosarcoma , a type of bone cancer . 2. A condition that affects the nipple
of the breast . It resembles eczema, and is always associated with cancer of the
milk ducts .
palate The roof of the mouth, consisting
of the hard (or bony) palate in the front and the soft (muscular) palate at the
care When it is agreed that cure is no longer possible, palliative care,
which does not try to cure the disease, aims to promote comfort, relieve symptoms,
and maximise the quality of life. It seeks to address the full range of physical,
emotional and spiritual needs of both patient and family:see hospice care .
palpation The act of feeling with the hand. Doctors frequently
use palpation to examine the body.
A thin, lumpy gland about 15 cm long that lies behind the stomach in the upper
left part of the abdomen. The pancreas produces enzymes that help to digest food.
It also produces insulin, which controls the amount of sugar in the blood .
pancreatic cancer [pan-cre-a-tic can-cer] Cancer of the
pancreas . It is more common in men and in older people, and is rarely found under
the age of 55. There are two types: cancer of the endocrine pancreas, and cancer
of the exocrine pancreas. Pancreatic cancer is often difficult to diagnose, as
the symptoms (pain in the abdomen, loss of appetite, nausea, jaundice , weight
loss) may also be caused by many other conditions.
A simple scan test that can detect changes in the cells of the cervix (opening
of the uterus). These changes are not cancer , but may develop into cancer of
the cervix if not treated (see precancerous condition). Simple treatment can prevent
the cancer from developing. The test involves collecting a few cells from the
surface of the cervix and examining them under a microscope. All women should
be tested regularly once they become sexually active. Short for Papanicolaou test,
after the man who designed it, it is also called Pap smear, smear test, cervical
papilloma [pap-il-lo-ma] A benign growth (not
a cancer ) that may occur on the skin or on a mucous membrane. Papillomas may
also occur in the bladder and in the milk ducts of the breast . Warts are a type
papillary cancer [pa-pil-lar-y] The most
common type of bladder cancer. It starts on the bladder wall and grows into the
bladder, attached by a stem.
paraprotein A substance
produced when plasma cells multiply abnormally. At high levels, it can be detected
in the blood and urine. Doctors can monitor paraprotein levels to see if treatments
parotid cancer [pa-ro-tid] see parotid tumour .
gland One of a pair of glands , located in front of each ear, that release
saliva into the mouth.
parotid tumour A tumour in the
parotid gland . Many parotid tumours are benign (not a cancer ), and are usually
painless and slow growing. Parotid cancers, however, tend to grow rapidly. Sometimes
a tumour that appears to be benign for many years will suddenly become malignant
partial cystectomy The surgical removal of part of the bladder.
partial laryngectomy [par-tial la-ryn-gec-to-my] see laryngectomy
partial nephrectomy The surgical removal of part of
pathologist A specialist who examines cells
and tissue under a microscope.
pathology The study of
the nature, cause and development of disease by examining samples of blood , urine,
faeces and body tissues, using x-rays and other techniques, and carrying out autopsies.
patient-controlled analgesic (PCA) Pain relief that patients
can control themselves. The patient is attached to an intravenous drip, and when
necessary, can press a small device that will deliver a dose of a pain-relief
drug through the drip. Delivery is followed by a lockout period before the device
will deliveranother dose. PCA is often used to control pain after surgery.
PEG Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy, also simply called
gastrostomy. A tube inserted through the skin and abdomen wall, directly into
the stomach, so that liquid foods can be fed directly into the stomach.
pelvic examination When the doctor examines the organs of the
pelvis by feeling them with fingers inserted into the vagina and/or rectum.
peripheral stem cell rescue Where stem cells are collected
from a person's bloodstream, to be transplanted as a treatment for acute leukaemias
, lymphomas and other cancers . PSCH may be used as well as, or instead of, collecting
bone marrow for transplantation. The procedure is painless, but it may take several
hours. Also called peripheral stem cell harvest (PSCH).
to-ne-um] (adj. peritoneal) Membrane that lines the wall of the abdomen and covers
the organs within it.
PET scan (positron emission tomography)
A technique that is used to build up clear and detailed pictures of the body.
The person is injected with a glucose solution containing a very small amount
of radioactive material. The scanner can 'see' the radioactive substance, and
this shows where healthy cells are using the glucose in the body. Damaged or cancerous
cells show up as areas where the gluscose is being used.
[pha-rynx] The throat; a tube with walls of muscle lined with mucous membrane
that extends from the back of the nose to the top of the oesophagus .
plasma A straw-coloured liquid that forms the fluid part of blood
. The blood cells and platelets are suspended in the plasma. It also contains
substances to make the blood clot, to restrict bleeding: see serum .
plasma exchange A procedure to remove some constituents or elements
from the blood, when the paraprotein level is high and interfering with blood
plasmapheresis [plas-ma phe-re-sis] A process
that may be used in the treatment of multiple myeloma and macroglobulinaemia,
a related disease. The blood is pumped slowly from the body through a vein in
one arm and passed through a machine that spins off the plasma and the abnormal
proteins it contains. The remaining blood cells , along with replacement plasma
from a donor , is then returned to the body through a vein in the other arm.
plastic surgery A branch of surgery concerned with reconstructing
damaged or deformed parts of the body, or rebuilding parts that have been lost:
see reconstructive surgery .
Tiny disc-shaped structures in the blood . Their several functions are all to
do with the blood's ability to clot and stop bleeding. Also known as thrombocytes.
pneumonectomy [pneu-mo-nec-to-my] The removal by surgery
of an entire lung.
polyp [po-lyp] An abnormal growth
projecting from one of the body's mucous membranes. The most common places they
are found include the nose, colon , and bladder . Polyps are generally benign
, but one type that occurs in the bowel , an adenoma , can become malignant (cancerous)
over a period of many years.
porta cath [por-ta cath]
Trade name for an intravenous access device .
A growth that is not cancerous (malignant), but which may become a cancer if it
is not treated, such as adenomas , which may develop into bowel cancer .
primary tumour A malignant tumour (a cancer) starts in one site
of the body where it is known as the primary tumour. At a later stage, cancer
cells may break away from it and be carried to other parts of the body, where
they may lodge and increase to form secondary tumours or metastases .
progesterone receptor test [pro-ges-ter-one] A test that determines
whether a cancer relies on the hormone progesterone for its growth. If so, it
may respond to hormone therapy : see hormone receptors .
[prog-no-sis] 1. The outlook or expected outcome of a disease. 2. The length of
time the person is expected to live.
A gland about the size of a walnut found only in men, which produces the bulk
of the fluid that makes up semen. In elderly men, the prostate often becomes enlarged,
blocking the neck of the bladder and making it difficult to pass urine.
prostate cancer Cancer of the prostate gland is the most common
cancer in men. It rarely occurs under the age of fifty-five. Symptoms include
problems with urinating, and blood in the urine.
[pros-ta-tec-to-my] Surgical removal of the prostate gland.
antigen (PSA) Tests for PSA, prostate acid phosphatase (PAP) and serum
alkaline phosphatase (SAP) are routinely used to diagnose prostate cancer . The
individual tests are not sufficiently reliable, but together they provide a good
indication of whether or not cancer is present.
[pros-the-sis] An artificial substitute for a missing part of the body, such as
an arm, leg, breast, eye, tooth and so on. A prosthesis may be functional (an
artificial leg), or purely cosmetic (a glass eye): see breast implant.
prosthodontist A specialist dentist who orders and fits the prostheses
made by a maxillofacial technician to replace tissue of the mouth or face that
has been removed.
protein One of a group of organic
compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Proteins are made in the body
and are an essential part of it. The cells of muscles, tissues, organs, etc, are
protein. So are enzymes and hormones
protocol A formal,
detailed treatment plan used for groups of people with similar medical problems.
Doctors follow set treatment protocols so that the results of different types
of treatment can be compared, and the natural course of a disease may be better
PSA see prostate-specific antigen .
PSCH see peripheral stem cell rescue .
[pul-mon-a-ry] Of the lungs.
pulmonary function tests
Tests that measure the amount of air moving in and out of the lungs during breathing,
and evaluate the person's ability to get oxygen from the air into the blood .
The tests can also indicate whether there is an obstruction in the air passages.
Also called lung function tests.
pump A device that regulates the rate at
which a drug is delivered. A pump is frequently attached to an intravenous drip
to deliver chemotherapy drugs, or drugs needed after surgery. These pumps are
relatively large, and sit beside the patient's bed. Small portable pumps, also
known as syringe drivers, may be used in palliative care to deliver pain-relief
drugs. The Grasby pump is the most common of these.
Any form of energy that spreads or radiates from its source, including heat, light
(visible, ultraviolet and infrared), gamma rays and x-rays . Only a few forms
of radiation are radioactive.
radiation oncologist A
doctor who specialises in the use of x-rays and other forms of radiation to treat
cancers as well as other conditions. Previously called radiotherapist, which term
is now used to describe the technician (not a doctor) who delivers or plans radiotherapy.
radiation therapist The health professional (not a doctor)
who administers radiotherapy . Sometimes called a therapy radiographer.
radiation therapy see radiotherapy .
cystectomy Surgery for people with bladder cancer. For women, the operation
removes the bladder and may also remove the uterus, Fallopian tubes, ovaries,
front of the vagina and urethra. In men, it removes the bladder, prostate gland
radical neck dissection An operation that
removes the lymph nodes in the neck and some of the surrounding structures (including
muscle), usually as part of surgery for cancer of the mouth, throat (pharynx )
or voice box (larynx ).
radical nephrectomy The main
form of treatment for kidney cancer. It removes the diseased kidney and-if they
are also diseased-the adrenal gland, surrounding fatty tissue and nearby lymph
radical surgery An operation that removes a
tumour plus surrounding tissue and lymph nodes . The term usually refers to extensive
surgery aimed at completely curing the disease.
[ra-di-o ac-tiv-i-ty]The nuclei of some atoms are unstable and break down to form
simpler, more stable nucleii, and in the process, they release energy (radiation
). This activity is known as radioactivity, and substances that act in this way
are said to be radioactive.
radioactive implant [ra-di-o
ac-tive im-plant] A radioactive substance (a radioisotope) that is placed directly
into or around a cancer within the body to enable the radiation it gives off to
kill the cancer cells. Implants are most commonly used for cancers of the cervix
, uterus (womb ), breast , mouth, and prostate .
iodine iodine that gives off radiation.
[ra-di-o-gra-pher] A technician trained in taking x-ray pictures of parts of the
body to diagnose illnesses and disorders.
[ra-di-ol-o-gist] A doctor who specialises in the use and interpretation of x-ray
photographs and other imaging devices (CT scans ) in diagnosing disorders and
radiology [ra-di-ol-o-gy] The branch of medicine
concerned with the use of radiation , (including x-rays ) and radioactive substances
in diagnosing and treating disease. Some radiology departments are now called
medical imaging departments, as they may employ techniques such as magnetic resonance
imaging that do not use radiation.
o-paque] Having the ability to block x-rays . Because x-rays will not pass through
a radio- opaque substance (eg barium ) such substances show up as clear white
on x-ray photographs (in contrast to flesh, which appears grey or black). Radio-opaque
substances or dyes are given to patients in many specialised x-ray tests (barium
x-rays, angiography, intravenous pyelogram, lymphogram) in order to show up structures
within the body.
radioresistant [ra-di-o re-sis-tant]
Resistant to the effects of radiation . A cancer is said to be radioresistant
if it does not respond adequately to radiotherapy , that is, if it is not sufficiently
damaged or destroyed by radiotherapy.
[ra-di-o sen-si-tive] Sensitive to the effects of radiation . A cancer is said
to be radiosensitive if it responds to radiotherapy , i.e. the radiation makes
it smaller or totally destroys it.
ther-a-py] The use of particular forms of radiation , usually x-rays or gamma
rays , to kill cancer cells or injure them so they cannot grow and multiply. Radiation
can be directed at a cancer from outside the body, or a radioactive source may
be implanted into the cancer and the area around it. Sometimes called radiation
receptors see hormone receptors .
reconstructive surgery Surgery to rebuild part of the body that
has been destroyed or removed using the patient'sown tissues. It may involve moving
skin, cartilage, muscle or bone from other parts of the body. Reconstructive surgery
is often used to create a new breast following surgery for breast cancer, or to
rebuild parts of the face, nose or mouth following cancer surgery. It is usually
carried out by a plastic surgeon: see plastic surgery, breast reconstruction .
rectum [rec-tum] The last 12-15 cm of the large bowel, which
opens to the outside at the anus.
The reappearance of the cancer after a period of remission .
blood cells One of the two main types of cells present in the blood .
Red blood cells make up 45 per cent of blood volume. Their main function is to
receive oxygen from the lungs to carry it to tissues throughout the body, and
carry carbon dioxide back to the lungs to be breathed out. The red colour comes
from haemoglobin, the substance that actually carries the oxygen: see blood cells
. Also known as erythrocytes.
regional involvement The
spread of cancer from its original site to nearby areas, for example, where a
breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the armpit.
In a hospital, the registrar is an experienced doctor responsible for
the care of a number of patients with the assistance of junior doctors (residents).
A registrar may work with one or more senior surgeons, physicians or consultants.
regression In cancer, the stage when the signs and symptoms
are disappearing and the person is recovering. It generally means that the tumour
is getting smaller, or that tests (scans, blood counts ) are showing improvement.
rehabilitation Programs that help restore people to independence
and a full, productive life after illness or injury. Rehabilitation may involve
physical restoration such as the use of prostheses, physiotherapy, occupational
therapy programs and/or speech pathology, counselling and emotional support, and
relapse The return of a disease
after a period of improvement or remission .
A complete remission is a period of good health when all signs or symptoms of
the disease have gone, although if the disease is cancer, there may still be some
cancer cells in the body. A partial remission means that some of the signs and
symptoms are gone. Sometimes called stable disease .
carcinoma [re-nal cell car-ci-no-ma] The most common cancer of the kidney,
it is a type of adenocarcinoma . The cancer may be present for some time before
the person notices any symptoms, which include fever , pain and blood in the urine.
Also called hypernephroma.
renal sarcoma A rare form
of cancer that affects the connective tissues of the kidney.
tissue Kidney tissue.
resection The surgical
removal of part of an organ or another structure.
system The parts of the body involved in breathing, including the nose,
mouth, throat, trachea(windpipe), and lungs . The purpose of the respiratory system
is to get oxygen from the air into the bloodstream and so to the tissues of body,
as well as to get rid of the waste carbon dioxide.
A measure of how likely a person is to develop a particular disease. Where people
are at high risk of developing a particular disease, this does not mean that the
disease is certain to develop, but that they have a greater-than-average chance
of getting it. Similarly, people at low risk are less likely than others to develop
it, though it could still occur. Therefore, risk factors are any action that increases
a person's chance of developing a particular disease, for example, overexposure
to the sun is the major risk factor for skin cancer, and risk reduction describes
techniques to reduce the chances of developing a particular disease, for example,
not smoking will reduce the risk of getting lung cancer .
(ribonucleic acid) [ri-bo nu-cle-ic a-cid] One of the two nucleic acids (the other
is DNA) found in the nucleus of every cell . RNA's function is to make proteins
salivary gland cancer [sa-li-va-ry] A cancer of one
of the salivary glands, most commonly the parotid glands (see parotid tumour).
It usually appears as a slow-growing lump in the cheek.
[sar-co-ma] A malignant tumour (a cancer) that starts in connective tissue.
scan The term covers a variety of techniques for obtaining
images of structures or organs inside the body. Nuclear medicine techniques use
radioisotopes, x-ray techniques may use radio-opaque dyes. Other types of scans
include ultrasound scans, magnetic resonance imaging. Scans are very useful in
diagnosing cancer and finding out how far it has spread.
Examining and/or testing a large number of people who have no symptoms of a particular
disease, to identify anyone who may have that disease. This enables the disease
to be treated at an early stage, when cure is more likely. Examples include Pap
tests to detect precancerous changes of the cervix , and mammography, to screen
women for early breast cancers.
secondary tumour see
seminoma [se-mi-no-ma] A cancer of the testes.
It occurs in an older age group than teratomas (the other main testicular cancer),
and is treated by surgical removal of the testis (orchidectomy ). If it has spread
to other parts of the body, chemotherapy or radiotherapy may be used: see testicular
serum [se-rum] The clear liquid portion of blood
that is left if the blood cells, platelets and clotting substances (including
fibrinogen) are removed. If the clotting substances are not removed, the clear
fluid is called plasma.
serum alkaline phosphatase (SAP)
[se-rum al-ka-line phos-pha-tase] see prostate-specific antigen .
effects Many drugs (medicines) or treatments may affect the patient in
ways other than and in addition to those intended. These are side-effects. Some
side-effects are not a problem, but some are unpleasant, for example, chemotherapy
may cause hair loss, radiotherapy and chemotherapy may cause nausea.
sigmoidoscopy [sig-moid os-co-py] Examination of the rectum and
first 20-25 cm of the colon using a sigmoidoscope, a long flexible tube with a
light at the end that is inserted gently through the anus : see endoscope, fibre
sinus [si-nus] An air cavity within a bone.
skin The outer covering of the body. It consists of two
layers: the outer layer (epidermis ) consists largely of cells containing keratin,
which resists heat, cold and many chemicals. The epidermis protects the body from
injury and invasion by parasites. The inner layer (dermis) contains the roots
of hairs, glands that make sweat and oil, blood and lymphatic vessels, and nerves.
The skin's colour comes from the brown pigment called melanin, which is made in
cells called melanocytes in the lower part of the dermis. The melanocytes manufacture
melanin when they are exposed to sunlight.
skin cancer The
most common form of cancer in Australia. It affects all age groups from adolescence
upwards. Skin cancer rates in Australia are higher than anywhere else in the world.
There are three main types: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma
(SCC), and melanoma. All start in different parts of the outer layer of skin.
Skin cancer is caused by the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.
cell carcinoma A type of lung cancer that is strongly associated with
cigarette smoking. About one-quarter of all lung cancers are small cell carcinomas.
It causes few symptoms in the early stages, and spreads quickly. Also called oat
small intestine The part of the gastrointestinal
tract between the stomach and the colon . Also called the small bowel.
smear test see Pap test .
[so-lar ker-a-to-sis] (pl. keratoses) A flat, slightly red, scaling area that
may appear on skin that is exposed to sunlight, especially the face, hands and
forearms. A solar keratosis is not a skin cancer, but people with solar keratoses
often develop skin cancers as well. A few keratoses develop into skin cancers
(see precancerous condition). About 40-55 per cent of Australians over the age
of forty have one or more solar keratoses.
A health professional who diagnoses and treats people who have problems in communicating,
either in being understood themselves and/or in understanding others. They also
help people who have difficulty with swallowing. In the context of cancer, speech
pathologists are most likely to work with those who have been treated for cancer
of the larynx, throat, mouth, or brain. Also called speech therapist .
spinal cord tumours Tumours that start in the spinal cord (primary
spinal cord tumours) are rare. Secondary tumours (tumours that have spread from
another part of the body) are more common. Either way, because the spinal cord
is contained within the bone of the spine, a small tumour can press on it and
cause pain and paralysis. If possible, tumours on the spinal cord are removed
by surgery, with or without radiotherapy
spleen An organ in the upper part
of the abdomen on the left side, below and behind the stomach. The spleen produces
lymphocytes, filters blood, stores blood and destroys cells that are ageing. It
can mount an immune response to infections in the blood system.
[sple-nec-to-my] Surgical removal of the spleen. This is sometimes done in the
treatment of leukaemia, particularly chronic myeloid leukaemia, or in lymphomas
when the spleen becomes enlarged and destroys too many normal blood cells . It
is also the treatment for cancer of the spleen. Once the spleen is removed, other
parts of the body take over its functions.
sputum cytology test
[spu-tum cy-tol-o-gy test] A test that looks at sputum (phlegm), which contains
cells from the lungs and air passages, that has been coughed up from the lungs.
The test involves studying these cells under the microscope.
cell carcinoma [squa-mous cell car-ci-no-ma] A type of cancer that is
common in skin and can also be found in the mucous membrane lining areas within
the body such as the mouth, vagina, etc. It forms in the squamous (scaly) epithelium,
the outer layer of both skin and mucous membranes. As a skin cancer, it occurs
on areas of the body most often exposed to the sun, that is, the head, neck, hands
and forearms. It starts as scaly red areas that grow rapidly, over months. They
bleed easily and may form ulcers or sores that do not heal. It is a less common
skin cancer than basal cell carcinoma, but is more serious, grows faster and may
spread to other parts of the body.
stable disease see
staging For most cancers, the treatment used will depend
on how far the cancer has spread, that is, the stage the disease has reached.
It is important to assess this accurately. This assessment is called staging and
is done by using various investigations such as x-rays, scans and biopsies.
stem cell A type of 'parent' cell from which all the different
types of mature blood cells evolve. Most stem cells are found in bone marrow,
with small numbers also found in blood. When doctors take bone marrow to use in
a transplant, it is the stem cells they want. When stem cells are added to a patient's
bloodstream, they will migrate to the interior of certain bones and start to produce
cells that eventually become mature red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets
: see bone marrow transplantation.
sterile In the non-reproductive
sense, it means free of bacteria and refers particularly to medical equipment,
stoma [sto-ma] An artificial opening
in the body that has been created surgically, for example, where the colon or
ileum is connected to a wall of the abdomen to form an opening through which wastes
(faeces/urine) are passed, or the trachea is brought to an artificial opening
in the neck, through which the patient then breathes: see colostomy, laryngectomy,
stomach Part of the alimentary tract (gut);
a sac-like structure just below the diaphragm (at about waist level). When food
is swallowed, it passes first to the stomach, where the gastric juices start to
digest it. After about one hour, the partly digested food moves on to the small
stomach cancer One of the ten most common
cancers, more common in men and with increasing age. The symptoms are often vague
and may also be caused by many other conditions. Treatment in the early stages
is usually by surgery.
stomal therapist [sto-mal ther-a-pist]
A health professional trained to help patients care for a colostomy or ileostomy.
Also called enterostomy therapist.
ti-tis] When the mucous membrane lining the mouth becomes inflamed and ulcers
form. Stomatitis is a common side-effect of some chemotherapy drugs. Also called
subacute [sub a-cute] A subacute illness
is one that progresses faster than chronic illness, but not fast enough to be
classed as acute.
subcutaneous infusion [sub-cu-ta-ne-ous
in-fu-sion] A fluid (usually a drug) is released slowly into the body through
a needle inserted just beneath the skin .
subcutaneous mastectomy [sub-cu-ta-ne-ous
mas-tec-to-my] Surgical removal of breast tissue from beneath the skin , in which
the skin and nipple remain in place: see mastectomy.
rate The percentage of people diagnosed with a particular disease who
are still alive after a given length of time, say five years, which is a common
measure of success in cancer treatment.
1. n. A stitch used to close a wound or surgical cut. 2. v. To stitch closed a
wound or cut.
syringe driver A small, portable pump
that is used in palliative care to deliver pain relief and other drugs (often
a mixture of two or three drugs). The whole pump will fit neatly in a small bag,
and it holds enough drugs for one day.
[sys-tem-ic] Treatment that is directed at the body as a whole, rather than at
individual parts or organs .
A hormonal treatment
that blocks the action of oestrogen in the breast.
see transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation.
[ter-a-to-ma] A tumour madetamoxifen up of a number of different types of tissue, none
of which is normally found in the area where the tumour occurs. A teratoma may
be benign (not a cancer) or malignant (a cancer). Benign teratomas may become
malignant. They occur most often in the testis and ovary ; they may occur in children
though most frequently in adults: see testicular cancer.
An illness is described as terminal when the person is expected to die of that
illness within months or weeks. Patients receiving hospice care are usually in
the terminal phase of an illness
testicular cancer [tes-tic-u-lar
can-cer] Cancer of the testis: a rare disease that occurs most often in men aged
between 20 and 35. The most common cancers of the testis are seminomas (70 per
cent) and teratomas (25-30 percent). Many testicular cancers can now be cured.
testosterone [tes-tos-ter-one] The main male sex hormone.
It is produced by the testes, and stimulates male sexual activity and the growth
of other sex organs including the prostate.
[thor-ac-ic] The part of the backbone (spine) to which the ribs are attached;
the part behind the chest.
cy-to pe-ni-a] A decrease in the number of platelets in the blood which causes
blood to take longer than usual to clot when there is bleeding. In cancer, thrombocytopenia
may occur when cancer cells replace normal cells in the bone marrow, or as a result
thrombosis [throm-bo-sis] The formation
or presence of a blood clot. When this occurs inside a blood vessel, it can block
the flow of blood. In the brain, a blockage causes a stroke; in the heart, it
can cause a heart attack; elsewhere in the body, it can damage nearby tissues.
thymus [thy-mus] An organ below the neck, above and in front
of the heart. In infants, it controls development of lymphoid tissue and the immune
response. In adults its function is uncertain.
[thy-roid] A large gland in the neck, with two lobes that wrap around either side
of the windpipe (trachea ) just below the voice box (larynx ). It secretes thyroid
hormone, which regulates the rate at which the body uses food and oxygen, and
the rate at which various organs function.
to a collection of cells which are specialised for a particular body function.
tissue expander A device that may be used in breast reconstruction
after mastectomy if a woman does not have quite enough skin left to cover a breast
tissue typing Tissue typing is done when a
bone marrow or organ transplant is being planned. It involves looking at the tissues
of both the potential donor and the person receiving the transplant to measure
how compatible they are.
titration [ti-tra-tion] In
chemotherapy, this means finding the right dose of a chemotherapy drug that will
destroy cancer cells most effectively while keeping the effects on normal tissue
to a safe, tolerable level.
tolerance If a person takes
a particular drug (or medicine) over some time, the drug may gradually become
less effective as their body may respond less to it. This is known as drug tolerance.
If this happens, it may be necessary either to increase the dose or change to
tomography [to-mog-ra-phy] The technique
of building up cross-sectional pictures (pictures showing a slice through) of
an organ or part of the body, using x-rays : see CT scan
body irradiation Radiotherapy to the entire body so that, theoretically,
all cells in the body receive the same amount (or dose) of radiation.
trachea [tra-che-a] The windpipe; the stiffened tube through
which air passes to reach the lungs : see bronchus.
[tra-che-os-to-my] A surgical operation after the voice box (larynx ) has been
removed, usually because of cancer, in which a hole (or stoma ) is made through
the front of the neck into the windpipe (trachea), in order to create a clear
airway through which the person will breathe permanently. This may also be part
of a laryngectomy operation.
trans cutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS)
A technique used to relieve pain using a weak electric current, the impulses of
which produce a mild tingling sensation.
Where blood or blood products (plasma, particular blood cells) taken from a healthy
person are given to someone whose blood is in some way deficient. The blood drips
slowly through a needle directly into one of the recipient's veins. A cancer patient
may receive a transfusion of red blood cells that carry oxygen, granulocytes (a
type of white blood cell ) that fight infection, or platelets that help the blood
to clot. Blood transfusions are also routinely given during many major operations
transitional cells Cells lining some organs.
resection (TUR) [trans-u-reth-ral re-sec-tion] Removal, via the penis,
of a tumour in the bladder or the prostate . No cut to the skin is needed as an
instrument is inserted through the urethra. TUR can be used only for very small
tumours: see resection.
new or abnormal growth of tissue in or on the body. A tumour may be benign (not
a cancer) or malignant (a cancer). The term 'neoplasm ' usually describes malignant
tumour marker A substance which, if found
in the body, suggests that there may be a tumour present.
see transurethral resection.
ulcer A break in the skin
or in the mucous membrane lining the alimentary tract that fails to heal. It is
often accompanied by inflammation
[ul-cer-a-tive co-li-tis] see colitis.
scan Sound waves of a very high frequency, higher than the human ear can hear.
Ultrasound can be used to examine structures within the body by using an ultrasound
scan. If ultrasound is directed at the body, it is reflected back differently
by different types of tissue. In an ultrasound scan, these differences are measured
and used to build up pictures of structures inside the body. Ultrasound scans
are useful in diagnosing cancer.
(UVR) The part of sunlight that causes sunburn and skin damage. Ultraviolet radiation
is invisible and does not feel hot. It is radiation of short wave length, beyond
the violet end of visible light. Skin cancer and skin damage are caused mainly
ureter The tube that carries urine from the
kidney to the bladder.
urethra The tube through which
urine leaves the body. It empties urine from the bladder.
tract [u-rin-a-ry tract] The collection of ducts and channels that take
urine from the kidneys to the outside of the body and includes the ureters, bladder,
urine Fluid containing water and waste
products. Urine is made by the kidneys, stored in the bladder, and leaves the
body through the urethra.
urologist [u-rol-o-gist] A
doctor specialising in diseases of the urinary tract in both males and females,
and of the genital organs in males
urostomy An operation
to create an opening from inside the body to the outside, making a new way to
urothelium The membrane lining the bladder.
uterine cancer [u-te-rine can-cer] Cancer of the uterus,
including cancer of the endo-metrium, the lining of the uterus. It is the sixth
most common cancer among women in Victoria, and the most common gynaecological
cancer, usually occurring in post-menopausal women. Treatment is usually surgery.
Sometimes called endometrial cancer.
[u-te-rine fi-broid] see fibroid.
(adj. uterine) The womb ; the hollow, muscular organ which, during pregnancy,
holds and nourishes the developing child.
UVA, UVB Forms
of ultraviolet radiation
vaginal cancer [va-gi-nal can-cer]
Cancer of the vagina is uncommon. It is more common in women whose mothers took
the drug diethylstilboestrol (DES) during pregnancy. Treatment is usually surgery,
sometimes combined with radiotherapy (often using radioactive implants ). If the
vagina needs to be removed surgically, it may be possible to have it reconstructed
by plastic surgery : see reconstructive surgery.
device [ve-nous] see intravenous access device
cords see larynx
voice box see larynx .
white blood cells One of the two main types of cell present
in blood . There are three major groups of mature white blood cells: granulocytes,
lymphocytes and monocytes. Granulocytes and monocytes are formed in the bone marrow
(myeloid tissue), and lymphocytes are formed in the lymph nodes. The white blood
cells play a major role in defending the body against infection. Also known as
leucocytes : see blood cells .
Wilm's tumour A rare
cancer that affects children. It can arise anywhere in the kidney and can spread
to the bowel and liver. It is one of the most curable of childhood cancers.