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Cancer Glossary

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 Search  [lim-fo-sites]
also called T cells. White blood cells that mature in the thymus. They make cytokines and play a large role in the immune response against viruses, transplanted organs and tissues, and cancer cells. See also cytokines, thymus, white blood cells.
treatment with drugs that attack some part of cancer cells that’s different from normal cells. Targeted therapies sometimes work when standard chemotherapy drugs don’t, and they tend to have fewer side effects than chemotherapy drugs. See also chemotherapy.
see high-dose rate brachytherapy.
 Search  [ter-min-uhl]
in medicine, generally understood to mean that the disease can no longer be effectively treated or cured, and the patient is dying. See also palliative treatment, hospice.
 Search  [tess-tick-ulls, tess-teez]
the male reproductive glands normally found in the scrotum. The testicles produce sperm and male hormones such as testosterone. See also scrotum, sperm, testosterone.
 Search  [tes-toss-ter-own]
called the male hormone, it is made mostly in the testicles. It stimulates blood flow, growth in certain tissues, and secondary sexual characteristics. In men with prostate cancer, it can also make the tumor grow. See also hormone, prostate, testicles.
also called treatment. Any of the measures taken to treat a disease. See also alternative therapy, complementary therapy, standard therapy, unproven therapy.
 Search  [thur-mog-ruh-fee]
a method in which heat from the breast is measured and mapped. The resulting image is called a thermogram. This method is not a reliable way to detect breast cancer.
 Search  [thuh-ras-ick sur-jun]
a doctor who operates on organs in the chest cavity. The word thoracic refers to the thorax, another name for the chest.
also called 3DCRT. Treatment that uses sophisticated computers to very precisely map the location of the cancer within the body. The patient may be fitted with a plastic mold much like a cast to keep them still and in the same position for each treatment so that the radiation can be aimed more precisely. Radiation beams are then focused on the tumor from several directions. This reduces the radiation effects on normal tissues and may allow higher doses of radiation to be used. See also external beam radiation therapy, radiation.
 Search  [throm-bo-sy-toe-PEEN-ee-uh]
a decrease in the number of platelets in the blood, which can result in an increased risk of bleeding; can be a side effect of chemotherapy. See also blood count, chemotherapy, platelet.
an organ at the base of the neck (behind the upper breastbone or sternum) that helps certain lymphocytes mature. The thymus is part of the immune system. See also immune system, lymphocyte, sternum.
a gland at the front of the neck which makes hormones that regulate how quickly the body uses energy and affects many other body functions. The word thyroid can also refer to certain hormones made by the thyroid gland.
 Search  [tib-ee-uh]
also called the shinbone. The thicker, inner bone (on the big toe side) of the 2 bones in the lower leg that go from the knee to the ankle. See also fibula.
 Search  [tish-oo]
a collection of cells that work together to perform a particular function.
see staging.
see combination hormone therapy.
also called TCE. An exam that looks at the entire colon (the large intestine); for examples, see colonoscopy or double contrast barium enema.
 Search  [tock-sis-i-tee]
in medical treatment, the harmful effects of a medicine or treatment, especially at higher doses. Can also refer to the effects of poisons or other non-medical substances.
an important tumor suppressor gene that is often altered (mutated) and not working properly in cancer cells. The protein that this gene makes (called p53) normally causes damaged cells to die. Mutations (changes) in this gene can be inherited (passed on from a parent) or they can happen during a person’s life. Inherited TP53 mutations can increase the risk of many types of cancer. See also hereditary cancer syndrome, inherited disease, mutation, tumor suppressor genes.
 Search  [tray-key-uh]
the windpipe. The trachea connects the larynx (voice box) with the bronchi (the 2 large air passages that lead into the lungs) and serves as the main passage for air coming from the nose and mouth into the bronchi and lungs.
 Search  [tray-key-AH-stuh-me]
surgery to create an opening of the trachea through the neck; also used as a term for the opening itself. See also stoma, trachea.
 Search  [trans-few-zhun]
blood or blood products that are given into a vein (intravenous or IV). Most such products are taken from unrelated donors and tested for disease before use, but a person can donate their own blood ahead of time to be given during certain planned surgeries or procedures.
 Search  [tran-zi-shun]
area of passage from one part or condition to another. In the prostate, the transition zone refers to the innermost area that surrounds the urethra, where benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) develops. See also benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostate, urethra.
 Search  [tranz-low-KAY-shun]
genetic material that is out of its normal place, as when deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) from one chromosome breaks off and attaches to a different chromosome. See also chromosome, deoxyribonucleic acid, mutation.
 Search  [trans-rek-tul ul-truh-sound]
also called TRUS. An imaging test in which a probe is put in the rectum, where it puts out sound waves to make a picture of the prostate on a screen to help find tumors. See also prostate, rectum.
 Search  [trans-yoo-REE-thrul re-sek-shun]
also called TURP. An operation to remove the inner part of the prostate gland that surrounds the urethra (the tube through which urine exits the bladder). This procedure is most often used to relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It can also be used for some men with prostate cancer who cannot have the prostate removed because of advanced age or other serious illnesses. It can relieve problems with urination, but is not expected to cure or remove all of the cancer. See also benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostate.
 Search  [trans-verse ko-lun]
the second section of the colon, a part of the large intestine. It is called transverse because it goes across the body from the right to the left side. See also colon, ascending colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon.
 Search  [trans-verse rek-tus ab-dom-in-us]
also called a TRAM flap or rectus abdominus flap procedure. A method of breast reconstruction in which tissue from the lower abdominal wall (belly) including the rectus abdominus muscle is used. The tissue from this area is moved up to the chest to create a breast mound. An implant is usually not needed. Moving muscle and tissue from the lower abdomen to the chest results in flattening of the lower abdomen (a “tummy tuck”). See also breast reconstruction.
breast cancer that does not have estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, or an excess of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). This limits the effective treatment options for patients. See also estrogen receptor assay, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, progesterone receptor assay.
see transrectal ultrasound.
 Search  [tube-yoo-ler ad-no-muh or ad-uh-NO-muh]
a type of benign (non-cancerous) polyp in the colon or other parts of the digestive tract that is made up of gland cells formed into tubes, in which the tubular structure generally makes up more than 75% of the adenoma. They usually cause no symptoms, and are often found during screening procedures such as colonoscopy. Because they can be pre-cancerous, they are generally removed when found. See also adenomatous polyp, colonoscopy, polyp, tubulovillous adenoma, villous adenoma.
 Search  [tube-yoo-ler car-sin-O-muh]
a rare type of low-grade invasive breast cancer. The outlook for this kind of cancer is considered to be better than average. See also invasive ductal carcinoma.
 Search  [tube-yoo-lo-VIH-lus ad-no-muh or ad-uh-NO-muh]
a type of benign (not cancer) polyp in the colon or other parts of the digestive tract that is made up of gland cells formed into tubes, along with finger-like projections of gland cells when seen under a microscope. In these, the finger-like parts usually make up 25% to 50% of the adenoma. These adenomas can be pre-cancerous, and are generally removed when found. See also adenomatous polyp, polyp, tubular adenoma, villous adenoma.
 Search  [too-mer or tyoo-mer]
an abnormal lump or mass of tissue. Tumors can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).
short-term worsening of symptoms or tumor markers. See also symptoms, tumor markers.
substances made by cancer cells and sometimes by normal cells. They are not very useful for cancer screening because other body tissues not related to a cancer can often produce these substances, too. But tumor markers may be very useful in watching for a response to treatment after a cancer is diagnosed, looking for cancer that has come back (recurred), or monitoring the progression of advanced cancer.
 Search  [too-mer or tyoo-mer neck-row-sis]
also called TNF. A substance given off by activated white blood cells that can cause the death of tumor cells. See also necrosis, white blood cells.
genes that slow down cell division or cause cells to die at the right time. Changes or mutations in these genes can lead to too much cell growth and development of cancer. Compare to oncogenes. See also gene, mutation.
measure of the amount of cancer present.
see transurethral resection of the prostate.
in breast cancer, a method in which the procedure to diagnose the presence of breast cancer (biopsy) and breast surgery for cancer treatment (such as lumpectomy or mastectomy) are done as 2 separate procedures, days or even weeks apart. This method is often preferred by women and their health care teams because it gives them time to consider all options. Compare to one-step procedure. See also biopsy, lumpectomy, mastectomy.