Below, we have curated 101 of the most useful cancer terms based on
the feedback of patients and their care partners.
Below, we have curated 101 of the most
useful cancer terms based on the feedback
of patients and their care partners.
Symptoms or signs that begin and worsen quickly; not chronic.
Additional cancer treatment given after the primary treatment to lower the risk that the cancer will come back. Adjuvant therapy may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, or biological therapy.
A condition in which the number of red blood cells is below normal.
A drug or substance that keeps new blood vessels from forming. In cancer treatment, angiogenesis inhibitors may prevent the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow. Also called antiangiogenesis agent.
A protein made by plasma cells (type of white blood cell) in response to an antigen (a substance that causes the body to make a specific immune response). Each antibody can bind to only one specific antigen. The purpose of this binding is to help destroy the antigen. Some antibodies destroy antigens directly. Others make it easier for white blood cells to destroy the antigen. An antibody is a type of immunoglobulin, which is a protein made by B cells and plasma cells that helps the body fight infection.
A lymph node in the armpit region that drains lymph from the breast and nearby areas.
Not cancer. Benign tumors may grow larger but do not spread to other parts of the body. Also called nonmalignant.
A type of treatment that uses substances made from living organisms to treat disease. These substances may occur naturally in the body or may be made in the laboratory. Some biological therapies stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer. Other biological therapies attack specific cancer cells, which may help keep them from growing or kill them. They may also lessen certain side effects caused by some cancer treatments. Types of biological therapy include immunotherapy (such as cancer treatment vaccines, cytokines, and some antibodies) and some targeted therapies. Also called biological response modifier therapy, biotherapy, and BRM therapy.
A biological molecule found in blood, other body fluids, or tissues that is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease. A biomarker may be used to see how well the body responds to a treatment for a disease or condition. Biomarker testing or tumor profiling reads the instruction manual of cancer cells to identify the mistakes, or genomic mutations that may cause your cancer to grow. Knowing this information can help determine the best treatment plan for you. Also called molecular marker and signature molecule.
The removal of cells or tissues for examination by a pathologist. The pathologist may study the tissue under a microscope or perform other tests on the cells or tissue. There are many different types of biopsy procedures. The most common types include: (1) incisional biopsy- a sample of tissue is removed; (2) excisional biopsy- an entire lump or suspicious area is removed; and (3) needle biopsy- a sample of tissue or fluid is removed with a needle. When a wide needle is used, the procedure is called a core biopsy. When a thin needle is used, the procedure is called a fine-needle aspiration biopsy.
A procedure in which a patient receives healthy stem cells (blood-forming cells) to replace their own stem cells that have been destroyed by treatment with radiation or high doses of chemotherapy. The healthy stem cells may come from the bone marrow of the patient or from a related or unrelated donor. A bone marrow transplant may be autologous (using a patient’s own stem cells that were collected and saved before treatment), allogeneic (using stem cells from a related or unrelated donor), or syngeneic (using stem cells donated by an identical twin). Also called BMT.
A procedure to check for abnormal areas or damage in the bones. A very small amount of radioactive material is injected into a vein and travels through the blood. The radioactive material collects in the bones and is detected by a scanner (a special camera that takes pictures of the inside of the body). A bone scan may be used to diagnose bone tumors or cancer that has spread to the bone. It may also be used to help diagnose fractures, bone infections, or other bone problems. Also called bone scintigraphy.
A type of radiation therapy in which radioactive material sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters is placed directly into or near a tumor. Also called implant radiation therapy, internal radiation therapy, and radiation brachytherapy.
Any substance that causes cancer.
Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs.
A condition in which abnormal cells that look like cancer cells under a microscope are found only in the place where they first formed and haven’t spread to nearby tissue. At some point, these cells may become cancerous and spread into nearby normal tissue. There are many different types of carcinoma in situ depending on the type of tissue in which it began. These include adenocarcinoma in situ (of the cervix, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract), ductal carcinoma in situ (of the breast), and squamous cell carcinoma in situ (of the skin, mouth, and larynx). Also called stage 0 disease.
Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, or infusion, or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy, or biologic therapy.
Examination of the inside of the colon using a colonoscope, inserted into the rectum. A colonoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease.
The condition of having two or more diseases at the same time.
A test used to help match a patient to a specific drug or therapy. For example, a companion diagnostic test may identify whether a patient’s tumor has a specific gene change or biomarker that is targeted by the drug, which helps determine if the patient should receive the drug or not. Companion diagnostic tests can also be used to find out whether serious side effects may occur from treatment or how well treatment is working. Most drugs with a companion diagnostic test are cancer drugs that target specific tumor mutations.
A term used to describe a medical product or practice that is used together with (complementary) or instead of (alternative) standard medical care. Usually, less is known about most types of complementary and alternative medicine than about standard treatments, which go through a long and careful research process to prove they are safe and effective. Complementary and alternative medicine may include dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, acupuncture, massage therapy, magnet therapy, spiritual healing, and meditation. Also called CAM.
A procedure in which an extremely cold liquid or an instrument called a cryoprobe is used to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue. A cryoprobe is cooled with substances such as liquid nitrogen, liquid nitrous oxide, or compressed argon gas. Cryosurgery may be used to treat certain types of cancer and some conditions that may become cancer. Also called cryoablation and cryotherapy.
A procedure that uses a computer linked to an x-ray machine to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are taken from different angles and are used to create 3-dimensional (3-D) views of tissues and organs. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the tissues and organs show up more clearly. A CT scan may be used to help diagnose disease, plan treatment, or find out how well treatment is working. Also called CAT scan, computed tomography scan, computerized axial tomography scan, and computerized tomography.
The length of time after primary treatment for a cancer ends that the patient survives without any signs or symptoms of that cancer. In a clinical trial, measuring the disease-free survival is one way to see how well a new treatment works. Also called DFS, relapse-free survival and RFS.
The presence of abnormal cells within a tissue or organ. Dysplasia is not cancer, but it may sometimes become cancer.
The length of time after primary treatment for a cancer ends that the patient remains free of certain complications or events that the treatment was intended to prevent or delay. These events may include the return of the cancer or the onset of certain symptoms, such as bone pain from cancer that has spread to the bone. In a clinical trial, measuring the event-free survival is one way to see how well a new treatment works. Also called EFS.
The first treatment given for a disease. It is often part of a standard set of treatments, such as surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation. When used by itself, first-line therapy is the one accepted as the best treatment. If it doesn’t cure the disease or it causes severe side effects, other treatment may be added or used instead. Also called induction therapy, primary therapy, and primary treatment.
An experimental treatment that adds a new gene or replaces or repairs a mutated (changed) gene inside the body’s cells to help prevent or treat certain diseases, such as cancer. Gene therapy may also be used to train the body’s immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells or to protect healthy cells from the effects of cancer treatment.
An inherited increase in the risk of developing a disease. Also called genetic susceptibility, hereditary predisposition, and inherited predisposition.
A laboratory method that looks for changes in genes, gene expression, or chromosomes in cells or tissue of a person. These changes may be a sign of a disease or condition, such as cancer. They may also be a sign that a person has an increased risk of developing a specific disease or condition or of having a child or other family member with the disease or condition. Genetic testing may also be done on tumor tissue to help diagnose cancer, plan treatment, or find out how well treatment is working.
The study of the complete set of DNA (including all of its genes) in a person or other organism. Almost every cell in a person’s body contains a complete copy of the genome. The genome contains all the information needed for a person to develop and grow. Studying the genome may help researchers understand how genes interact with each other and with the environment and how certain diseases form. This may lead to new ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent disease.
In cancer, a description of a tumor based on how abnormal the cancer cells and tissue look under a microscope and how quickly the cancer cells are likely to grow and spread. Low-grade cancer cells look more like normal cells and tend to grow and spread more slowly than high-grade cancer cells. Grading systems are different for each type of cancer. They are used to help plan treatment and determine prognosis. Also called histologic grade and tumor grade.
The study of tissues and cells under a microscope.
Treatment that adds, blocks, or removes hormones. For certain conditions (such as diabetes or menopause), hormones are given to adjust low hormone levels. Hormones can cause certain cancers (such as prostate and breast cancer) to grow. To slow or stop the growth of cancer, synthetic hormones or other drugs may be given to block the body’s natural hormones. Sometimes surgery is needed to remove the gland that makes a certain hormone. Also called endocrine therapy, hormonal therapy, and hormone treatment.
An increase in the number of cells in an organ or tissue. These cells appear normal under a microscope. They are not cancer, but may become cancer.
A type of test that makes detailed pictures of areas inside the body. Imaging tests use different forms of energy, such as x-rays (high-energy radiation), ultrasound (high-energy sound waves), radio waves, and radioactive substances. They may be used to help diagnose disease, plan treatment, or find out how well treatment is working. Examples of imaging tests are computed tomography (CT), mammography, ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and nuclear medicine tests. Also called imaging procedure.
A complex network of cells, tissues, organs, and the substances they make that helps the body fight infections and other diseases. The immune system includes white blood cells and organs and tissues of the lymph system, such as the thymus, spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes, lymph vessels, and bone marrow.
The immune system’s way of protecting the body against an infectious disease. The three types of immunity are innate, adaptive, and passive. Innate immunity includes barriers, such as skin and mucous membranes, that keep harmful substances from entering the body. It is the first response of the body’s immune system to a foreign substance. Adaptive immunity occurs in response to being infected with or vaccinated against a microorganism. The body makes an immune response, which can prevent future infection with the microorganism. Adaptive immunity can last a person’s entire life. Passive immunity occurs when a person receives antibodies to a disease rather than making them through his or her own immune system. Passive immunity provides immediate protection but only lasts a few weeks or months.
Describes the ability to decrease the body’s immune system responses.
A type of therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection, and other diseases. Some types of immunotherapy only target certain cells of the immune system, while others affect the immune system in a general way. Types of immunotherapy include cytokines, vaccines, bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), and some monoclonal antibodies.
In its original place. For example, in carcinoma in situ, abnormal cells are found only in the place where they first formed. They have not spread.
In the body. The opposite of in vitro, which is outside the body or in the laboratory.
An approach to medical care that recognizes the benefit of combining conventional (standard) therapies (such as drugs and surgery) with complementary therapies (such as acupuncture and yoga) that have been shown to be safe and effective. For example, acupuncture may be used with certain drugs to help lessen cancer pain or nausea and vomiting. Integrative medicine tries to address the physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and environmental factors that can affect a person’s health and well-being.
Cancer that has spread beyond the layer of tissue in which it developed and is growing into surrounding, healthy tissues. Also called infiltrating cancer.
A health problem that occurs months or years after a disease is diagnosed or after treatment has ended. Late effects may be caused by cancer or cancer treatment. They may include physical, mental, and social problems and second cancers.
An area of abnormal tissue. A lesion may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).
In medicine, describes disease that is limited to a certain part of the body. For example, localized cancer is usually found only in the tissue or organ where it began, and has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or to other parts of the body. Some localized cancers can be completely removed by surgery.
Surgery to remove cancer or other abnormal tissue from the breast and some normal tissue around it, but not the breast itself. Some lymph nodes under the arm may be removed for biopsy. Part of the chest wall lining may also be removed if the cancer is near it. Also called breast-conserving surgery, breast-sparing surgery, partial mastectomy, quadrantectomy, and segmental mastectomy.
A small bean-shaped structure that is part of the body’s immune system. Lymph nodes filter substances that travel through the lymphatic fluid, and they contain lymphocytes (white blood cells) that help the body fight infection and disease. There are hundreds of lymph nodes found throughout the body. They are connected to one another by lymph vessels. Clusters of lymph nodes are found in the neck, axilla (underarm), chest, abdomen, and groin. For example, there are about 20-40 lymph nodes in the axilla. Also called lymph gland.
The tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells that fight infections and other diseases. This system includes the bone marrow, spleen, thymus, lymph nodes, and lymphatic vessels (a network of thin tubes that carry lymph and white blood cells). Lymphatic vessels branch, like blood vessels, into all the tissues of the body.
A condition in which extra lymph fluid builds up in tissues and causes swelling. It may occur in an arm or leg if lymph vessels are blocked, damaged, or removed by surgery.
A term used to describe cancer. Malignant cells grow in an uncontrolled way and can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph system.
The edge or border of the tissue removed in cancer surgery. The margin is described as negative or clean when the pathologist finds no cancer cells at the edge of the tissue, suggesting that all of the cancer has been removed. The margin is described as positive or involved when the pathologist finds cancer cells at the edge of the tissue, suggesting that all of the cancer has not been removed.
In medicine, a lump in the body. It may be caused by the abnormal growth of cells, a cyst, hormonal changes, or an immune reaction. A mass may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).
To spread from one part of the body to another. When cancer cells metastasize and form secondary tumors, the cells in the metastatic tumor are like those in the original (primary) tumor.
A laboratory method that uses a sample of tissue, blood, or other body fluid to check for certain genes, proteins, or other molecules that may be a sign of a disease, such as cancer. Molecular testing can also be used to check for certain changes in a gene or chromosome that may increase a person’s risk of developing cancer or other diseases. Molecular testing may be done with other procedures, such as biopsies, to help diagnose some types of cancer. It may also be used to help plan treatment, find out how well treatment is working, make a prognosis, or predict whether cancer will come back or spread to other parts of the body. Also called biomarker testing and molecular profiling.
A procedure that uses radio waves, a powerful magnet, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. A contrast agent, such as gadolinium, may be injected into a vein to help the tissues and organs show up more clearly in the picture. MRI may be used to help diagnose disease, plan treatment, or find out how well treatment is working. It is especially useful for imaging the brain and spinal cord, the heart and blood vessels, the bones, joints, and other soft tissues, the organs in the pelvis and abdomen, and the breast. Also called magnetic resonance imaging, NMRI, and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging.
Any change in the DNA sequence of a cell. Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment. Mutations can be harmful, beneficial, or have no effect. If they occur in cells that make eggs or sperm, they can be inherited; if mutations occur in other types of cells, they are not inherited. Certain mutations may lead to cancer or other diseases. Also called a variant.
A test result that shows the substance or condition the test is supposed to find is not present at all or is present, but in normal amounts. In genetics, a negative test result usually means that a person does not have a mutation (change) in the gene, chromosome, or protein that is being tested. More testing may be needed to make sure a negative test result is correct.
Treatment given as a first step to shrink a tumor before the main treatment, which is usually surgery, is given. Examples of neoadjuvant therapy include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy. It is a type of induction therapy
An abnormal mass of tissue that forms when cells grow and divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasms may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Benign neoplasms may grow large but do not spread into, or invade, nearby tissues or other parts of the body. Malignant neoplasms can spread into, or invade, nearby tissues. They can also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. Also called tumor.
A condition in which there is a lower-than-normal number of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) in the blood.
A mutated (changed) form of a type of gene called a proto-oncogene, which is involved in normal cell growth and division. When a proto-oncogene is changed so that too many copies are made or it becomes more active than normal, it is called an oncogene. Oncogenes may cause normal cells to become cancer cells and grow in the body. Mutations that lead to the conversion of proto-oncogenes to oncogenes usually occur during a person’s lifetime and are not inherited from a parent.
Care given to improve the quality of life and help reduce pain in people who have a serious or life-threatening disease, such as cancer. The goal of palliative care is to prevent or treat, as early as possible, the symptoms of the disease and the side effects caused by treatment of the disease. It also attends to the psychological, social, and spiritual problems caused by the disease or its treatment. Palliative care may include therapies, such as surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy, to remove, shrink, or slow the growth of a tumor that is causing pain. It may also include family and care partner support. Palliative care may be given with other treatments from the time of diagnosis until the end of life.
A nerve problem that causes pain, numbness, tingling, swelling, or muscle weakness in different parts of the body. It usually begins in the hands or feet and gets worse over time. Peripheral neuropathy may be caused by cancer or cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy. It may also be caused by physical injury, infection, toxic substances, or conditions such as diabetes, kidney failure, or malnutrition. Also called neuropathy.
A form of medicine that uses information about a person’s genes or proteins to prevent, diagnose, or treat disease. In cancer, personalized medicine uses specific information about a person’s tumor to help make a diagnosis, plan treatment, find out how well treatment is working, or make a prognosis. Examples of personalized medicine include using targeted therapies to treat specific types of cancer cells, such as HER2-positive breast cancer cells, or using tumor marker testing to help diagnose cancer. Also called precision medicine.
A procedure in which a small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein, and a scanner is used to make detailed, computerized pictures of areas inside the body where the glucose is taken up. Because cancer cells often take up more glucose than normal cells, the pictures can be used to find cancer cells in the body. Also called positron emission tomography scan.
An inactive substance or other intervention that looks the same as, and is given the same way as, an active drug or treatment being tested. The effects of the active drug or other intervention are compared to the effects of the placebo.
A growth that protrudes from a mucous membrane.
A test result that shows that a person has the disease, condition, or biomarker for which the test is being done. In genetics, a positive test result usually means that a person has a mutation (change) in the gene, chromosome, or protein that is being tested. More testing may be needed to make a diagnosis or to make sure a positive test result is correct.
A term used to describe a condition that may (or is likely to) become cancer. Also called premalignant.
A term used to describe the original, or first, tumor in the body. Cancer cells from a primary cancer may spread to other parts of the body and form new, or secondary, tumors. This is called metastasis. These secondary tumors are the same type of cancer as the primary cancer. Also called primary tumor.
The likely outcome or course of a disease; the chance of recovery or recurrence.
The length of time during and after the treatment of a disease that a patient lives with the disease but it does not get worse. In a clinical trial, measuring the progression-free survival is one way to see how well a new treatment works. Also called PFS.
A molecule made up of amino acids. Proteins are needed for the body to function properly. They are the basis of body structures, such as skin and hair, and of other substances such as enzymes, cytokines, and antibodies.
The overall enjoyment of life. Many clinical trials assess the effects of cancer and its treatment on the quality of life. These studies measure aspects of an individual’s sense of well-being and ability to carry out activities of daily living. Also called QOL.
The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons, and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance, such as a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody, that travels in the blood to tissues throughout the body. Also called irradiation and radiotherapy.
Surgery that is done to reshape or rebuild (reconstruct) a part of the body changed by previous surgery.
Cancer that has recurred (come back), usually after a period of time during which the cancer could not be detected. The cancer may come back to the same place as the original (primary) tumor or to another place in the body. Also called recurrent cancer.
In medicine, describes a disease or condition that does not respond to treatment.
A treatment plan that specifies the dosage, the schedule, and the duration of treatment.
A process to restore mental and/or physical abilities lost to injury or disease, in order to function in a normal or near-normal way.
The return of a disease or the signs and symptoms of a disease after a period of improvement. Relapse also refers to returning to the use of an addictive substance or behavior, such as cigarette smoking.
A decrease in or disappearance of signs and symptoms of cancer. In partial remission, some, but not all, signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared. In complete remission, all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared, although cancer still may be in the body.
An improvement related to treatment.
Checking for disease when there are no symptoms. Since screening may find diseases at an early stage, there may be a better chance of curing the disease. Examples of cancer screening tests are the mammogram (for breast cancer), colonoscopy (for colon cancer), and the Pap test and HPV tests (for cervical cancer). Screening can also include doing a genetic test to check for a person’s risk of developing an inherited disease.
Treatment that is given when initial treatment (first-line therapy) doesn’t work, or stops working.
A term used to describe cancer that has spread (metastasized) from the place where it first started to another part of the body. Secondary cancers are the same type of cancer as the original (primary) cancer. For example, cancer cells may spread from the breast (primary cancer) to form new tumors in the lung (secondary cancer). The cancer cells in the lung are just like the ones in the breast. Also called secondary tumor.
The extent of a cancer in the body. Staging is usually based on the size of the tumor, whether lymph nodes contain cancer, and whether the cancer has spread from the original site to other parts of the body.
Treatment that is accepted by medical experts as a proper treatment for a certain type of disease and that is widely used by healthcare professionals. Also called best practice, standard medical care, and standard therapy.
Focus on the health and well-being of a person with cancer from the time of diagnosis until the end of life. This includes the physical, mental, emotional, social, and financial effects of cancer that begin at diagnosis and continue through treatment and beyond. The survivorship experience also includes issues related to follow-up care (including regular health and wellness checkups), late effects of treatment, cancer recurrence, second cancers, and quality of life. Family members, friends, and care partners are also considered part of the survivorship experience.
A detailed plan given to a patient after treatment ends, that contains a summary of the patient’s treatment, along with recommendations for follow-up care. In cancer, the plan is based on the type of cancer and the treatment the patient received. A survivorship care plan may include schedules for physical exams and medical tests to see if the cancer has come back or spread to other parts of the body. Getting follow-up care also helps check for health problems that may occur months or years after treatment ends, including other types of cancer. A survivorship care plan may also include information to help meet the emotional, social, legal, and financial needs of the patient. It may include referrals to specialists and recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, such as changes in diet and exercise and quitting smoking. Also called follow-up care plan.
Treatment using substances that travel through the bloodstream, reaching and affecting cells all over the body.
A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to target specific molecules that cancer cells need to survive and spread. Targeted therapies work in different ways to treat cancer. Some stop cancer cells from growing by interrupting signals that cause them to grow and divide, stopping signals that help form blood vessels, delivering cell-killing substances to cancer cells, or starving cancer cells of hormones they need to grow. Other targeted therapies help the immune system kill cancer cells or directly cause cancer cell death. Most targeted therapies are either small-molecule drugs or monoclonal antibodies.
The extent to which something is poisonous or harmful.
A detailed summary of a patient’s disease, the type of treatment the patient received, and any side effects or other problems caused by treatment. It usually includes results of laboratory tests (such as pathology reports and biomarker tests) and imaging tests (such as x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs), and whether a patient took part in a clinical trial. A treatment summary may be used to help plan follow-up care after treatment for a disease, such as cancer.
A substance found in tissue, blood, bone marrow, or other body fluids that may be a sign of cancer or certain benign (non-cancer) conditions. Many tumor markers are proteins made by both normal cells and cancer cells, but they are made in higher amounts by cancer cells. Genetic changes in tumor tissue, such as gene mutations, patterns of gene expression, and other changes in tumor DNA or RNA, are also being used as tumor markers. A tumor marker may be used with other tests to help diagnose cancer. It may also be used to help plan treatment, give a likely prognosis, and find out how well treatment is working or if cancer has come back. Examples of tumor markers include CA-125 (in ovarian cancer), estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor (in breast cancer), CEA (in colon cancer), PCA3 mRNA and PSA (in prostate cancer), and EGFR gene mutation (in non-small cell lung cancer).
A type of gene that makes a protein called a tumor suppressor protein that helps control cell growth. Mutations (changes in DNA) in tumor suppressor genes may lead to cancer. Also called antioncogene.
A procedure that uses high-energy sound waves to look at tissues and organs inside the body. The sound waves make echoes that form pictures of the tissues and organs on a computer screen (sonogram). Ultrasound may be used to help diagnose diseases, such as cancer. It may also be used during pregnancy to check the fetus (unborn baby) and during medical procedures, such as biopsies. Also called ultrasonography or sonogram.
A type of blood cell that is made in the bone marrow and found in the blood and lymph tissue. White blood cells are part of the body’s immune system. They help the body fight infection and other diseases. Types of white blood cells are granulocytes (neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils), monocytes, and lymphocytes (T cells and B cells). Checking the number of white blood cells in the blood is usually part of a complete blood cell (CBC) test. It may be used to look for conditions such as infection, inflammation, allergies, and leukemia. Also called leukocyte and WBC.
A type of radiation used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases. In low doses, x-rays are used to diagnose diseases by making pictures of the inside of the body. In high doses, x-rays are used to treat cancer.