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Cancer Glossary

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Browse the glossary by selecting a letter or by entering a cancer-related term:

F
 Search  [fa-lo-pee-uhn]
the tubes on either side of the uterus through which eggs travel from the ovaries to the uterus. See also uterus, ovaries.
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test result implying a condition does not exist when in fact it does.
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test result implying a condition exists when in fact it does not.
 Search  [fa-mil-e-uhl ad-no-muh-tus or ad-uh-NO-muh-tus pa-lih-PO-sis]
also called FAP. An inherited condition that puts a person at risk for getting colorectal cancer at an early age. People with this syndrome develop many polyps in the colon and rectum as well as tumors in other parts of the body. Usually one or more of these polyps becomes cancer if it is not removed. FAP is caused by changes in the APC gene. See also APC gene, colon, gastrointestinal tract, polyp, rectum, tumor.
 Search  [fash-uh]
a sheet or thin band of fibrous tissue that covers muscles and some organs of the body.
 Search  [nuh-crow-sis]
the death of fat cells, usually following injury. Fat necrosis is not cancer, but it can cause lumps and pulling of the tissues. When this happens in the breast, it can be confused with breast cancer.
 Search  [fuh-teeg]
a common symptom during cancer treatment, a bone-weary tiredness that often doesn’t get better with rest. For some people, this can last for a long time after treatment.
 Search  [fee-kuhl im-you-no-KIM-uh-kuhl test]
also called FIT. A test to look for hidden blood in the stool, which could be a sign of cancer. Unlike the fecal occult blood test (FOBT), this test is not affected by vitamins or foods, so there are no dietary restrictions before taking the test. See also colorectal cancer screening, false positive, fecal occult blood test.
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a test that looks for hidden blood in the feces (stool) by putting a small sample of stool on a special card and adding a chemical to look for a color change. Blood in the stool may be a sign of cancer, or it could be from other sources. See also colorectal cancer screening, fecal immunochemical test.
 Search  [fee-sees]
solid waste matter; stool.
 Search  [fee-mer]
the thigh bone, which is the longest, largest, and strongest bone in the body. It extends from the hip (pelvis) to the knee.
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referring to dietary fiber, the the parts of fruits, vegetables, and other plants that are not digested by humans. Fibers are grouped as soluble (like oat bran) and insoluble (like wheat bran). Beans, vegetables, whole grains, and fruits are good sources of fiber. Links between fiber intake alone and lower risk of cancer are not proven, but eating these foods is still recommended because they contain other substances that may help prevent cancer. They also have other health benefits.
 Search  [fi-bro-ad-uh-NO-muh]
a breast tumor made of fibrous and glandular tissue that is not cancer. On a clinical breast exam or breast self-exam, it usually feels like a firm, round, smooth lump. These usually occur in young women. See also glandular tissue.
 Search  [fie-bro-SIS-tick]
a term that describes certain changes in the breast that are not cancer and are thought to be caused by fibrosis and/or cysts (fluid-filled sacs). Symptoms of this condition are breast lumps, swelling, or pain, sometimes along with nipple discharge. Because these symptoms or other signs can sometimes look like breast cancer, a mammogram or a biopsy of breast tissue may be needed to show that there is no cancer. See also biopsy, mammogram.
 Search  [fie-bro-sis]
formation of scar-like (fibrous) tissue. This can happen anywhere in the body.
 Search  [fib-yuh-luh]
a bone in the calf; the thinner, outside bone of the 2 bones in lower leg that go from the knee to the ankle. See also tibia.
 Search  [asp-er-A-shun by-op-see]
also called FNA or FNAB. A procedure in which a thin, hollow needle attached to a syringe is used to draw up (aspirate) samples to look at under a microscope. See also aspiration, biopsy.
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a genetically related (blood-related) parent, sibling (brother or sister), or child.
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see fluorescent in situ hybridization.
 Search  [fist-chu-luh]
an abnormal passage, opening, or connection between 2 internal organs or from an internal organ to the outside of the body.
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the ratio of a cancer patient’s chances of surviving 5 years compared to that of an average cancer-free person of the same age and sex. It compares the number of people who are still alive 5 years after their cancer was found to the survival of others the same age who don’t have cancer. This helps correct for other causes of death and is a better way than survival rates alone to see the impact that cancer can have on survival. Still, these survival rates cannot predict any one person’s outcome, which can be affected by many factors. Even when survival rates are based on the most recent data available, they typically include information from patients treated several years earlier. Advances in treatment that have occurred since then might result in a better outlook for people who are newly diagnosed. See also five-year survival rate.
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the percentage of people with a given type or stage of cancer who are alive 5 years or longer after diagnosis. It does not take into account actual causes of death, so some non-survivors might have died from causes other than cancer. These survival rates cannot predict any one person’s outcome, which can be affected by many factors. Even when survival rates are based on the most recent data available, they typically include information from patients treated several years earlier. Advances in treatment that have occurred since then might result in a better outlook for people who are newly diagnosed. See also five-year relative survival rate.
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see sigmoidoscopy.
 Search  [sy-tahm-uh-tree]
a test in which cells from a biopsy or blood sample are stained and passed in front of a laser light. It can be used to measure certain characteristics of the cells, such as size, shape, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) content ( a measure of growth), and the presence of tumor markers on or in the cells. See also deoxyribonucleic acid, ploidy, s-phase fraction.
 Search  [floo-res-uhnt in sy-too hi-brid-ih-ZAY-shun]
also called FISH. A test that can help look at genes inside cells from a biopsy. It uses small deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) probes labeled with special fluorescent dyes that only attach to certain parts of a gene to find specific DNA sequences. It can be used to diagnose, to evaluate prognosis (disease outlook), or to look at the remission of a disease. It is often used to count the number of HER2 genes in cancer cells. See also chromosome, cytogenetics, deoxyribonucleic acid, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, remission.
 Search  [fo-kus]
a point at which rays of light or radiation beams come together. Also used to describe a region of disease in the body. The plural can be focuses or foci (fo-sy).
 Search  [fah-lick-uhl]
a sac or pouch-like structure made up of groups of cells. There are many types of follicles of all sizes in the body; for example, in the scalp, around the teeth, in lymph cells, in the thyroid, and in the ovaries. See also follicular.
 Search  [fah-lick-yuh-ler]
relating to a follicle or follicles. In medicine, may refer to a type of cell in the thyroid, or to a type of cancer that starts in these follicular cells. It can also refer to a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that tends to grow in follicles (see also follicle, non-Hodgkin lymphoma).
 Search  [frack-chur]
a partial or complete break, usually in bone.
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see percent-free PSA.
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a very thin slice of body tissue that has been quick-frozen for the pathologist to look at under a microscope while the patient is still in surgery. This method is sometimes used because it can often give a quick diagnosis and tell a surgeon whether or not to continue with the operation. The diagnosis is confirmed in a few days by a more detailed study called a permanent section. See also biopsy, permanent section, pathologist.