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Cancer Glossary

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

 Search  [vack-SEEN]
A modified version of a germ or other substance related to a disease, usually given as a shot (injection). It’s used to stimulate the immune system to resist that disease for a period of time, or even permanently. For instance, the HPV vaccines help prevent cancer by helping the body fight human papilloma virus (HPV), which can cause many types of cancer. See also human papilloma virus, immune system.
Also called vacuum pump. A device that creates an erection by drawing blood into the penis; a ring placed at the base of the penis then traps the blood and keeps the erection.
 Search  [vuh-JIE-nuh]
The passage leading from the the female genital organs on the outside of the body (the vulva) to the womb (uterus).
 Search  [VA-juh-NY-tus]
Any inflammation of the vagina. Atrophic vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina in which vaginal tissue becomes thin and dry. This often occurs after menopause and is caused by lack of estrogen. Some types of vaginitis can also be side effects of chemotherapy. See also chemotherapy, estrogen, menopause, vagina.
 Search  [vass DEF-er-ens]
The muscular tube that carries sperm from the testicle to the seminal vesicles. There are 2, one from each testicle. See also seminal vesicles, sperm, testicles.
 Search  [VASS-ku-lur EN-doe-THEE-lee-uhl]
Often shortened to VEGF. A protein that helps tumors form new blood vessels. See also angiogenesis.
 Search  [vuh-SECK-tuh-me]
Surgery in which a segment of each vas deferens is cut, removed, or tied off to keep sperm from getting into semen, thus preventing pregnancy. See also semen, sperm, vas deferens.
 Search  [VER-tuh-bruh]
One of 33 bones that are stacked and interlocked to form the spinal column; the spinal cord runs through these bones. The plural is vertebrae (VER-tuh-bray). See also spinal cord, spine.
 Search  [VUR-tuh-bro-PLASS-tee]
A procedure used to repair a broken bone in the spine (vertebra) and reduce pain. Bone cement is injected into the broken bone to make it stronger. Compare to kyphoplasty. See also vertebra.
 Search  [VIL-eye]
Tiny hair-like projections, often on the surface of mucous membranes. Singular is villus (VIL-us).
 Search  [VIH-lus AD-no-muh or AD-uh-NO-muh]
A type of non-cancerous polyp in the colon or other parts of the digestive tract with finger-like projections of gland cells. These finger-like structures generally make up at least half of the polyp. Villous adenomas are usually broad-based lesions, and often cause rectal bleeding. Because they can become cancer, they are usually removed. See also adenomatous polyp, colon, digestive system, glandular cells, polyp, rectum, tubular adenoma, tubulovillous adenoma.
 Search  [VIH-lus]
A polyp or mass that has some finger-like projections of gland cells when seen under the microscope. If there are enough of these, the mass would be considered a villous or tubulovillous polyp or adenoma. See also adenomatous polyp, colon, glandular cells, mass, polyp, tubular adenoma, tubulovillous adenoma, villous adenoma.
Examination of the colon for polyps or masses using special computed tomography (CT) scans. The images are combined by a computer to make a 3-dimensional (3-D) model of the colon and rectum, which doctors can “fly-through” on a computer screen. If abnormalities are found, doctors must follow up using an actual colonoscopy. See also colon, colonoscopy, computed tomography scan, mass, polyp, rectum.
 Search  [VY-rus]
A type of very small organism (called a micro-organism) that can grow and reproduce only in living cells. Viruses are too small to be seen with a regular microscope. Viruses can infect cells, which in some cases can lead to diseases.
 Search  [VUL-vuh]
The outside parts of a woman’s genitals, such as the labia, clitoris, and opening of the vagina. See also clitoris, labia, vagina.