• Glossary

    • Acquired Mutations—changes in DNA that that occur during a person’s lifetime
    • Adenocarcinomas—tumors that arise in the epithelial tissue of a gland (kidney, prostate, and breast cancers)
    • Alkylating Agents—a family of anticancer drugs that inhibits cancer cell growth by interfering with the cell's ability to replicate its DNA
    • Allogenic Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT)—procedure in which the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow are harvested from a donor and transferred to someone else
    • Angiogenesis—blood vessel formation; tumor angiogenesis is the growth of blood vessels to supply a solid tumor
    • Angiography—procedure in which a dye is injected into an artery in order to visualize it using x-rays
    • Annual Risk—the chances of acquiring a disease or condition during a given year
    • Antimetabolites—chemotherapeutic agents that interfere with the reproduction and function of cells
    • Apoptosis—the mechanism by which old or damaged cells self-destruct
    • Autologous Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) —procedure in which the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow are harvested from a patient and returned at a later time
    • Barium Enema—a diagnostic procedure in which an x-ray absorbing substance is barium, an x-ray absorbing substances in injected into the rectum and colon so as to produce x-ray images of their interior
    • Basal—lowermost level of epithelial cells, anchoring the cells above
    • Basic Research—research directed toward understanding the causes of cancer and how it affects the cells, tissues, and organs of the body; advances in basic research provide the foundation for clinical research
    • Biopsy—removal of a sample of tissue to test for cancer cells
    • Bone Marrow—tissue within the cavities of bones that contains fat and blood-forming cells; healthy bone marrow constantly replenishes the blood red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets
    • Bone Marrow Aspiration—a procedure in which a sample of liquid bone marrow is removed and tested for the presence of disease; the sample is usually obtained by inserting a needle into the pelvic bone
    • Bone Marrow Biopsy—a procedure in which a sample of bone marrow and a small piece of bone are removed and tested for the presence of disease; the samples are usually obtained by inserting a needle into the pelvic bone
    • Bone Marrow Transplant—the removal of blood-forming cells from a donor followed by the transfer of the cells to a recipient
    • Bone Scan—a diagnostic procedure in which a radioactive compound called is injected into the bloodstream in order to detect the presence of cancer (or other abnormalities) in the bones
    • Brachytherapy—administration of radiation therapy by surgically implanting radioactive materials near the tumors in an effort to kill cancer cells and minimize damage to surrounding tissue
    • Bronchoscopy—visualization of the airways in the lungs with a small, lighted fiberoptic tube (bronchoscope), through which tissue samples may be obtained to check for cancer
    • Cancers of the Central Nervous System (CNS)—occur in either the brain or the spinal cord and are named according to the specific tissue type from which they arise
    • Carcinogens—substances that damage DNA and cause cancer
    • Carcinoma—cancer arising in any of the epithelial tissue that covers the external or internal body surfaces, such as the skin, lung, breast, prostate, and colon cancers
    • Carcinoma in situ—cancer cells confined to their epithelial tissue of origin; noninvasive growth
    • Chemical toxins—chemicals that cause bodily harm
    • Chest X-ray—a series of standard x-ray images of the chest
    • Chromosome—part of a cell that contains genetic information in the form of genes; except for sperm and eggs, virtually all human cells contain 46 chromosomes
    • Clinical Research—research that uses humans to studies new ways of preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer
    • Clinical Trials—research studies that uses humans to test new drugs or other treatments and compare their effectiveness and side effects with those of current, standard treatments
    • Cobalt (Cobalt 60)—radioisotope used as a source of megavoltage radiation for treating some cancers of the internal organs
    • Colonoscopy—a procedure in which a thin, fiberoptic tube equipped with a light source, camera and instruments is inserted through the anus to view the entire rectum and colon; designed to examine, biopsy, and treat polyps, cancers, and other abnormalities
    • Colposcopy—test which enables the doctor to closely examine the genitals, vagina, and cervix
    • Combination Chemotherapy—use of 2 or more drugs to treat cancer by destroying the maximum number of tumor cells while minimizing toxicity and drug resistance
    • Complete Blood Count—A count of red and white blood cells, and platelets
    • Contact Inhibition—mechanism by which cells stop proliferating when they make contact with each other
    • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan—x-ray study that uses a computer to produce cross-sectional images of the inside of the body
    • Cystoscopy—test which enables a doctor to examine the inside of the bladder and the urethra
    • Cytoskeleton—scaffolding of microscopic filaments that give a cell its form and structural integrity
    • DNA Repair Genes—codes proteins to correct errors during DNA replication
    • Dedifferentiation—a cancer cell loses the properties it originally had
    • Deletions—removal of one or more base pairs, which may result in the expression (production) of an abnormal protein or no protein at all
    • Diagnostic Imaging—includes all tests that produce images or pictures of the inside of the body in order to diagnose diseases
    • Differentiation—process by which a cell changes its structure and function so as to perform a specific task
    • Digital Radiography—converts x-ray images to electronic data that can be viewed on a monitor and stored on computer disks; allows specific areas of the image to be enlarged and adjusted for greater visibility
    • Digital Rectal Exam—insertion of a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to check for masses or other abnormalities
    • Dysplasia—abnormal changes in a cell that portend the development of cancer
    • Endoscopy—use of a fiberoptic tube equipped with a light source and various instruments to examine the interior of the gastrointestinal tract
    • Epidermis—outermost, protective layer of the skin
    • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy—an upper endoscopy; use of a fiberoptic tube equipped with a light source and various instruments to examine the interior of the esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum)
    • Excisional Biopsy—surgical procedure in which an entire tumor is removed
    • Fecal Occult Blood Test—a small sample of stool is placed on a special card and tested by a lab for hidden blood
    • Fibrosis—the formation of excessive scar tissue, as in a reparative or reactive process
    • Fine-Needle Aspiration—procedure in which a thin needle is used to remove fluid and/or cells from a tumor or other suspicious area
    • Gallium Scan—procedure in which a radioactive compound called Gallium-67 is injected into a veins, to facilitate visualization of a tumor
    • Growth Factor—protein that stimulates cellular growth, development, and differentiation
    • Growth Inhibitory Factor—protein that inhibits cellular growth and development
    • Hematologic Cancers—cancers that arise in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow and then populate either the blood (leukemias) or lymphatic (lymphomas)
    • Hereditary (Genetic) Mutations—mutations inherited from one’s parents
    • Heterogeneous—consisting of dissimilar elements or parts
    • Home Care—care administered by nurses, therapists, or other health professionals in a patient’s home
    • Homogeneous—consisting of similar elements or parts
    • Hospice Care—care designed to help cancer patients and their and their families in the final stages of the disease
    • Human papillomavirus—virus that causes warts; certain strains that infect the cervix may cause cervical cancer
    • Hyperplasia—an abnormal increase in the number of cells in a tissue with consequent enlargement
    • Hyperthermia—a treatment that uses several different methods to increase the temperature of the area of the body cancer containing cancer as a means to inhibit its growth
    • Immunophenotyping—the characterization of cells based on immunologically active markers on their surface
    • Incisional Biopsy—the surgical removal of a portion of a larger tumor; sometimes used as part of a debulking procedure in the hope of improving the efficacy of radiation or chemotherapy
    • Infusion Center—a special area within a medical oncology department for administering intravenous chemotherapy to patients who are not admitted overnight
    • Insertions—addition of one or more base pairs, which may result in the altered expression of a protein
    • Intravenous Pyelography—procedure in which dye is injected into a vein and a series of x-rays are taken to visualize the urinary system
    • Interphase—cell's period of normal growth and development
    • Inpatient Unit (Medical Oncology)—a unit in the hospital where cancer patients receive care from physicians, nurses, technicians, and other providers familiar with the needs of cancer patients
    • Ionizing Radiation—high energy radiation that may lead to certain cancers; also used in the treatment of cancer
    • Kilovoltage Radiation Therapy—radiation treatment that is high enough to kill cancer cells without penetrating deeply into the body; often used for treating skin tumors
    • Laparoscopy—a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which tiny incisions are made in the abdomen, through which lighted fiberoptic tubes and instruments are passed
    • Laparotomy—an invasive surgical procedure in which an incision is made through the wall of the abdomen to gain access to the abdominal contents
    • Large Needle (or Core) Biopsy—procedure in which tissue is removed with a large-bore needle in order to diagnose cancer
    • Leukemias—cancers of the immature blood cells that originate in the bone marrow and accumulate in large numbers in the bloodstream
    • Lifetime Risk—the chances of acquiring a disease or condition over the period of one’s life
    • Linear Accelerator—machine that creates a stream of fast-moving subatomic particles used in the treatment of certain cancers
    • Lumbar Puncture (Spinal Tap)—removal of a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord to test for cancer cells and other substances indicative of disease
    • Lymphangiogram—procedure in which a dye is injected directly into the lymphatic vessels in order to visualize using x-rays
    • Lymph Node Biopsy—procedure in which one or more lymph nodes are removed and examined under a microscope to determine whether or not cancer is present
    • Lymphatic System—network of channels that transport the fluid, debris, and waste products that accumulate within tissues (lymph) back into the circulatory system; consists of the lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels
    • Lymphomas—cancers of the white blood cells that primarily occupy the lymph nodes and tissues of the body's immune system
    • Lymphoscintigraphy—a diagnostic test to track the flow of lymph; it is performed prior to a sentinel lymph node biopsy, which is done to see if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes
    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan—a procedure in which magnetic fields and radio waves combine to produce computerized images of the body’s interior
    • Mammography—specialized x-ray study of the breast
    • Mediastinoscopy—a procedure in which an instrument is inserted through a small incision in the middle portion of chest to remove lymph node tissue and possibly cancer cells from the region between the lungs
    • Medical Oncology—a subspecialty of internal medicine; medical oncologists provide chemotherapy and other nonradiation and nonsurgical treatments to cancer patients
    • Metastasis—spreading of cancer from a primary tumor to another site
    • Mitosis—division of a parent cell into 2 daughter cells
    • Multiple Myelomas—cancer of white blood cells that produces large quantities of antibodies, which are proteins used by the immune system to fend off disease
    • Mutagenesis—the process whereby genes become mutated
    • Mutation—genetic alteration of a single cell that, in the context of cancer, results in unregulated cell proliferation
    • Needle Aspiration—a biopsy technique in which a needle is inserted into a suspected tumor and a small sample of fluid and cells is withdrawn
    • Needle Biopsy—a biopsy technique in which a needle is inserted into a suspected tumor and a small sample of tissue is withdrawn
    • Negative Feedback Loop—cause-and-effect relationships in the body that results in the reduction of a change
    • Neoplasm—a new growth of benign or malignant tissue
    • Nuclear Medicine—involves the use of radioactive substances, called radionuclides or tracers, to create images of the body’s interior
    • Nucleus—enclosed central portion of cell, which its DNA
    • Oncogenes—abnormal forms of the genes that predispose to unregulated cell growth
    • Opisthorchis sinensis a liver fluke which has been linked to cancer of the pancreas and bile ducts
    • p53—a tumor suppressor protein associated with apoptosis
    • Parasite—an organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered on or in a different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its host
    • Peritoneal Lavage—a procedure in which saline solution (salt water) is washed through the abdomen and then suctioned out; the saline is examined under a microscope for the presence of cancer cells
    • Point Mutation—a change in one base pair of a gene that may lead to the altered expression of a protein
    • Positive Feedback Loop—cause-and-effect relationships in the body that results in the amplification of a change
    • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan—an imaging technique that provides information about the metabolic activity in an organ
    • Polypectomy—the removal of a polyp during an endoscopic procedure of the rectum or colon
    • Proliferation—the growth and reproduction of cells
    • Protein Kinases—enzymes that help regulate many cellular activities
    • PSA Test—a procedure in which blood is drawn and the level of prostate specific antigen (PSA) is measured; used to screen for and assess the treatment of prostate cancer
    • Pulmonary Function Tests—a series of tests used mostly to determine how well the lungs are ventilating
    • Ras—a normally inactive protein, that when activated, signals cells to divide (even when they should not)
    • Relative Risk—the degree of the relationship between a particular risk factor and a particular cancer expressed as a ratio of the number of cancer cases in a group of individuals with a risk factor over the number of cases in those without it
    • Renal Angiography—an x-ray study using contrast material to image the arteries leading to the kidneys; useful in diagnosing renal cancers
    • Sarcomas—cancers arising from cells found in the connective tissues of the body such as bone, cartilage, fat, and muscle
    • Schistosoma haematobium—a type of parasitic worm that has been linked to bladder cancer
    • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy—a procedure used to check for cancer that may have spread to the lymph nodes
    • Sigmoidoscopy —a procedure in which a thin, fiberoptic tube equipped with a light source, camera, and instruments is inserted through the anus to view the inside of the lower colon and rectum to look for polyps, cancers, and other abnormalities
    • Sputum Cytology—examination of a sample of mucus from the lungs to check for cancer cells
    • Squamous Cell Carcinoma—cancer of the superficial cells of the skin
    • Stem Cells—undeveloped, undifferentiated cells; able to differentiate into all types of cells
    • Stereotaxis—a technique in which a computer-assisted CT or MRI scan is used to precisely locate and biopsy a tumor
    • Surgical Biopsy—the surgical removal of all or part of a suspicious mass for lab examination
    • Thoracentesis—a procedure in which a needle is inserted through the chest wall to remove a sample of the fluid from around the lungs to check for cancer cells
    • Translocations—all or part of a gene recombines with other genes, which may result in the altered expression of a protein or proteins
    • Transrectal Ultrasound—a procedure in which an ultrasound probe inserted into the rectum is used to create images of the prostate gland
    • Tumor Markers—substances that can often be detected in higher-than-normal amounts in the blood, urine, or body tissues of people with certain types of cancer
    • Tumor Suppressor Genes—normal genes that keep the growth of cells in check; their absence or alteration may lead to cancer
    • Ultrasound—the use of reflected, high-frequency sound waves to create instantaneous images of structures inside the body
    • Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation—invisible, electromagnetic energy produced by the sun and other sources on earth (such as, sun lamps) that can cause melanoma and other types of skin cancer
    • Upper GI X-ray Study—a procedure in which the patient drinks a thick, chalky barium solution while a series of x-rays of the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine (duodenum) are taken
    • Urine and Blood Tests—a sample of urine or blood used for the purpose of diagnosing or screening for a diseases, or detecting the presence or amount of drugs
    • Vaginal Exam—procedure in which the doctor examines a patient’s vagina, ovaries, and other reproductive organs to determine their condition
    • Virus—a small bundle of genes enclosed within a protein shell and membranous envelope that reproduce by infecting host cells; a number of viruses have been linked to certain cancers
    • Xeroderma Pigmentosum—a rare genetic defect that impairs the ability of cells to repair DNA damaged by ultraviolet radiation; characterized by severe sensitivity to all sources of UV radiation (especially sunlight) and an abnormally high incidence of skin cancer

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.


  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.