also called B cells. White blood cells that help make antibodies. See also antibody, immune system, white blood cells.
a substance made into a chalky liquid that is used to outline the digestive tract for x-rays. It can be taken by mouth, as part of upper gastrointestinal (GI) series, or put into the rectum as a barium enema (as part of a lower GI series). See also barium enema, gastrointestinal tract.
a method sometimes used to help diagnose colorectal cancer. Barium sulfate, a chalky liquid, is used to enlarge and partly fill the colon (large intestine). When the colon is about half-full of barium, air is pushed in to cause the colon to expand further. This allows good x-ray films to be taken. This procedure may be called a double contrast barium enema. See also barium sulfate, colon, colorectal cancer.
-sul or bay
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the most common type of skin cancer. It begins in the lowest layer of the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin), called the basal cell layer. It usually develops on sun-exposed areas, especially the head and neck. Basal cell cancer grows slowly and is not likely to spread to distant parts of the body.
also called pure science, provides the knowledge and background required for later research into human health problems. In cancer research, this is often lab study in fields like biochemistry, cell biology, or genetics that are not aimed at treating a specific cancer, but may be used later as part of the basis for a treatment.
research into what motivates people to act the way they do. The results of such research can be used to help encourage people to adopt healthy lifestyles and follow life-saving screening and treatment guidelines.
not cancer; not malignant. Compare with malignant.
also called BPH. Non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate. This sometimes makes it harder for a man to empty his bladder – causing trouble starting and stopping urine flow, weak flow of urine, and dribbling.
an abnormal growth that is not cancer and does not spread to other areas of the body. See also tumor.
a form of vitamin A that is found mainly in yellow and orange vegetables and fruits. It functions as an antioxidant, but high doses of beta carotene supplements in smokers may increase lung cancer risk. See also antioxidants.
a set of conditions common in people with hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC). Most people who meet these criteria actually do not have HNPCC, but might want to consider genetic testing for it. Compare to Amsterdam criteria. See also hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer, genetic testing.
on both sides of the body; for example, bilateral breast cancer is cancer in both breasts. Compare to unilateral.
a term sometimes used by doctors to describe a significant rise in PSA (prostate-specific antigen) after prostate cancer treatment, which is a sign that cancer may have come back. There may be many years between a rise in PSA and being able to find the cancer by other means. See also primary therapy, prostate-specific antigen, recurrence.
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substances that boost the body’s immune system to fight against cancer; for instance, the drug interferon. This type of treatment is sometimes called biologic therapy. See also immunotherapy.
see tumor markers.
an instrument used to take core biopsy samples, often used for prostate biopsies. See also biopsy, core needle biopsy.
the removal of a sample of tissue to see if cancer cells are present. There are several kinds of biopsies. In some, a very thin (fine) needle is used to take out fluid and cells from a lump. In a core biopsy, a larger needle is used to remove more tissue. See also core needle biopsy, fine needle aspiration biopsy, sextant biopsy, surgical biopsy.
drugs that slow down the action of bone-eating cells called osteoclasts, which helps slow the spread of cancer in the bones. Bisphosphonate drugs are commonly used in breast cancer and multiple myeloma (a type of bone cancer). They are also approved for use in men with prostate cancer that has spread to the bones.
a hollow organ in the pelvis with flexible, muscular walls. The bladder stores urine as it is made by the kidneys. See also kidney.
a count of the number of cells in a given sample of blood.
the way a person thinks about their body and how they think it looks to others.
the soft, spongy tissue in the hollow middle of certain bones of the body. This is where new blood cells are made. See also platelet, red blood cells, white blood cells.
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a procedure in which a needle is put into the center of a bone, usually the hip or breast bone, to take out a small amount of bone marrow so that it can be looked at under a microscope. See also bone marrow.
a treatment that replaces blood-forming stem cells that have been destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. The bone marrow may come from the patient (autologous) or a donor (allogeneic). Bone marrow transplants (BMTs) were the first way stem cells in the bone marrow were replaced. See also allogeneic stem cell transplant, autologous stem cell transplant, umbilical cord blood transplant, hematopoietic stem cell transplant, stem cells.
an imaging test that gives important information about the bones, including the location of cancer that may have spread to the bones. It uses a small amount of radioactive contrast material (radioisotope) which is given by vein. This material settles in areas of the bone to which the cancer may have spread. The radioactive substance can be seen in pictures as it collects in the problem areas (“hot spots”). See also imaging studies, radioisotope.
also called a skeletal survey. An x-ray of all the bones of the body; it may be done when looking for cancer that has spread to the bones.
the intestines, from the end of the stomach (pylorus) to the anus. The small bowel is the part of the intestine that goes from the bottom of the stomach to the large bowel. The large bowel goes from there to the anus, and is also called the colon. See also anus, colon, gastrointestinal tract, intestines.
see benign prostatic hyperplasia.
internal radiation treatment given by putting radioactive seeds or pellets right into the tumor or close to it. Also called interstitial radiation therapy or seed implantation. Can be used along with external beam radiation therapy. See also high-dose rate brachytherapy, permanent (low-dose rate or LDR) brachytherapy, external beam radiation therapy, ionizing radiation.
enclosed in the cranium (the bones of the head) and connected to the spinal cord, the brain is the main center for regulating and coordinating body activities. It is the seat of thought, feeling, memory, speech, vision, hearing, movement, and much more. Different parts of the brain control different different functions in the body. See also spinal cord.
an imaging method used to find anything that isn’t normal in the brain, including brain cancer and cancer that has spread to the brain from other places in the body. This scan can be done in an outpatient clinic. It is painless, except for the needle stick when a radioactive substance (radioisotope) is put into a vein. The radioactive substance can be seen in pictures as it collects in abnormal areas. See also outpatient, radioisotope.
a gene which, when damaged (mutated), puts a person at higher risk of developing breast, ovarian, prostate, and other types of cancer, compared to people who do not have the mutation. See also gene, mutation.
a gene which, when damaged (mutated), puts a person at higher risk of developing breast, ovarian, prostate, and other types of cancer when compared to people who do not have the mutation. See also gene, mutation.
a tool used to help health professionals estimate a woman’s breast cancer risk. It estimates breast cancer risk based on certain risk factors.
surgery to increase the size of the breast. See also breast implant, mammoplasty.
cancer that starts in the breast. The most common types of breast cancer are ductal carcinoma in situ, invasive ductal carcinoma, invasive lobular carcinoma, medullary carcinoma, and Paget disease of the nipple (see definitions under these headings). Lobular carcinoma in situ is sometimes listed as a non-invasive type of cancer, even though it is not a true cancer.
surgery to remove a breast cancer and a small margin of normal tissue around the cancer without removing any other part of the breast. The lymph nodes under the arm may be removed, and radiation therapy is often given after the surgery. This method is also called lumpectomy, segmental excision, limited breast surgery, or tylectomy.
a sac used to increase breast size or restore the shape of a breast after mastectomy (surgical removal of the breast). The sac is filled with silicone gel (a synthetic material) or sterile saltwater (saline). See also mastectomy, prosthesis.
surgery that rebuilds the breast after mastectomy (surgical removal of the breast). A breast implant or the woman’s own tissue may be used. If desired, the nipple and areola might also be re-created. Reconstruction can be done at the time of mastectomy or any time later. See also mastectomy.
also called BSE. A way to check your own breasts for lumps or suspicious changes. Women over age 20 might choose to do BSE, usually at a time other than the days before, during, or right after their menstrual periods. The goal with BSE is to know what your breast tissue feels and looks like and to be able to report any breast changes to a doctor or nurse right away.
a health care professional who has a dedicated interest in breast health. While he or she may have specialized knowledge in this area, medical licensing boards do not certify a specialty in breast care.
the 2 main air passages in the lungs leading from the windpipe (trachea). The bronchi provide a passage for air to move in and out of the lungs. See also bronchiole, trachea.
one of the smaller subdivisions or branches of the bronchi. See also bronchi.
looking at the bronchi using a thin, flexible, lighted tube that goes down the throat. This instrument is called a bronchoscope. See also bronchi.