Bereaved Father's Group




A-Z Oncology Terms

Adenosarcoma - A malignant tumour of connective and glandular tissue.

Albumin - A water-soluble animal protein given as an infusion. to relieve fluid overload.

Alopecia - Loss of hair, commonly caused by chemotherapy.

Acyclovir - An anti-viral drug, which treats herpes viruses, but does not get rid of them. It is used to treat varicella, zoster and herpes simp1ex infections of the skin and mucous membranes (chicken pox). It is only active if started at the onset of infection. It is commonly used for immunocompromised patients.

Allograft - Tissue transplanted from one person to another. A type of bone marrow transplant.

Allopurinol - A drug given to cancer patients before commencing cytotoxic drugs (chemotherapy). It prevents gout and promotes good urine output.

Amphotericin - An antitungal drug which is not absorbed by the gut. It is used for the treatment of systemic fungal infections and is active against most fungi and yeasts. Side effects include fever, nausea and vomiting.

Antibody - A specific form of blood protein produced in the lymphoid tissue and able to prevent the effects of bacterial antigens and toxins.

Antiemetic - A drug that prevents nausea and vomiting,(e.g. Ondansetron). Can be given as a tablet or an injection.

Antibiotic - A chemical substance,e.g. penicillin, produced by fungi and bacteria, which prevents the growth of other bacteria.

Astrocytoma - A malignant tumour of the brain or spinal cord, e.g. a glioma.

Asparaginase - An enzyme, isolated from natural sources and used in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Side effects include fever, aches, and anorexia. It can damage the liver and nervous system. Can cause severe allergic reactions. Prior to the first dose being given, a skin test should be performed and urine tested for glucose.

Asymptomatic - Without symptoms.

Autograft - The transfer of skin tissue from one part oT the body to another,to repair a deficiency.

Anaemia - A deficiency in the quality or quantity of red cells in the blood. Symptoms include pale complexion, breathlessness on exertion with palpitations, headache, giddiness, indigestion and constipation.

Aplastic Anaemia - A rare condition where the bone marrow is unable to produce red blood cells. Cause unknown.

Blood - The fluid that circulates through the heart and blood vessels, supplying nutrients to the body and removing waste products. It consists of a colourless fluid (called plasma) in which float three kinds of cells – red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Red blood cells contain haemoglobin which combine with oxygen and carry it to the tissues. A low haemoglobin level causes a child to be tired and lethargic. White blood cells (leukocytes) defend the body against micro-organisms, so a lack of mature white cells causes a child to be prone to infections. Platelets (thrombocytes) are concerned with the clotting of the blood. A low platelet count means that a child is prone to bruising and bleeding.

Biopsy - Observation of the living body. Tissue or an organ is removed and examined, to establish a diagnosis.

Blast - An immature cell.

Bone Marrow - The substance found in the middle of long bones and in the cancellous tissue of all bones, where blood cells are produced. Bone marrow aspirate is taken to confirm diagnosis and monitor disease.

Bone Marrow Transplant - Bone marrow is transferred from one person to another. The marrow is 'harvested' to remove stem cells (cells able to change into the major blood cell types). Used to treat leukaemia and some solid tumours.

Cancer - This describes malignant growth in tissues. A cancerous growth is not encapsulated, but infiltrates into surrounding tissues, replacing cells with its own cells. It is spread by the lymph and blood vessels, causing metastases in other parts of the body.

Carcinoma- of epithelial tissues.

Sarcoma - of connective tissue (bone/muscle).

CAT Scan - Computer-aided axial tomography. X-rays or ultrasound waves are used to produce an image of a layer of tissue at any depth.

Chemotherapy - ('Chemo') The treatment of a disease by administering chemical compounds.

Central line - This catheter (a thin rubber tube) is usually put into the subclavian vein leading into the heart, under general anaesthetic. The line is tunnelled under the skin of the chest and brought to the skins surface. Central lines can be used to give the child chemotherapy, antibiotics, blood etc., and also to take blood samples without having to use needles. Parents are often taught to care for their child's central line and should be aware of the risks should the line become blocked, infected or have air introduced into it.

Chlorpromazine - A sedative anti-emetic drug used to treat vomiting.

Corsodyl - A mouthwash which inhibits the formation of plaque on teeth and reduces infections in the mouth.

Creatinine - A nitrogenous compound present in the muscles. It is also found in urine, in conditions where muscle is being rapidly broken down.

Cytotoxic - Damaging to cell structure and cell division. Cytotoxic drugs are used to treat malignant diseases, the aim being to destroy malignant cells whilst causing minimum harm to normal tissues.

Dialysis - The process which removes waste and harmful products from the kidneys in cases of renal (kidney) damage. Peritoneal dialysis uses the peritoneum as a semi-permeable membrane. A dialysing solution is infused into the abdominal cavity and allowed to run out again when dialysis has occurred. Thus, waste products are removed from the blood.

Diuretic - A drug which increases the flow of urine, usually by preventing it being reabsorbed in the kidney tubule.

DXR - Deep X-ray therapy.

E.C.G. - This stands for electrocardiagraph, a tracing of heart's electrical impulses.

Echocardioaram - This is a method of studying the movements of the heart, using ultrasound waves.

Electrolytes - Compounds which become ionised in solution. It is important to maintain the correct electrolyte balance between the different elements in the body's tissues and fluids.

Epistaxis - Bleeding from the nose.

Erythocyte - A mature red blood cell. Erythocytes contain haemoglobin and are responsible for carrying oxygen around the body. They develop in the red bone marrow in the cancellous tissue of all bones.

Ewings sarcoma - A tumour arising within the reticulo-endothelial cells in the bone. Most common bones affected are pelvis, femur and tibia/fibula. Symptoms include persistent bone pain, localised swelling, and fever (if the area becomes infected). Anaemia or a raised ESR can also occur.

E.D.T.A. - Ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid, attached to Chromium 50 is given by injection. Bloood samples are taken 2hr and 3hr later. Since EDTA is only excreted by glomerula filtrate, this measures kidney function.

Febrile/Pyrexia Fever - A rise in body temperature from 37.5 C to 40.0 C.

Fissure - A painful crack in the mucous membrane, e.g. of the anus.

Frusimide - A diuretic drug with a rapid, powerful action. Used to relieve oedema and acute renal f ailure.

FBC - Full blood count. A measurement of the total number of red cells, white cells and platelets in one cubic millimetre of blood.

Folinic acid - An antidote to methotrexate. Folinic acid rescue is given following methotrexate treatment, to reduce the toxic etfects on normal tissues.

Granulocyte - A white blood cell containing granules. Three types – neutrophils, basophils and eosinophils.

Glands - Organs composed of cells which secrete fluid extracted from the blood, either for use in the body, or for excretion as waste material.

Glioma - A tumour made up of neuroglia cells, atfecting the brain and spinal cord.

GVHD - Graft versus host disease. Cyclosporin A is given to prevent GVHO. It acts by inhibiting the production of T-lymphocytes in the Graft, which would otherwise stimulate the immune system to reject the host. GVHD can affect skin, liver and gastrointestinal tract.

G-CSF - Granulocyte colony stimulating factor. Its main job is to stimulate neutrophil granulocyte formation.

GM-CSF - Granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor. This can stimulate both granulocyte and monocyte-macrophage cell types. G-CSF and GM-CSF have been cloned and produced on a large scale by DNA technology.

Haemoalobin - The protein molecule present in red blood cells, which gives them their colour and by which oxygen is carried.

Haemodialysis - The removal of waste products from the blood, using a dialyser or artificial kidney, in cases of kidney failure.

Haematemesis - Vomiting of blood. If the blood has been in the stomach for some time, it will be darker in colour and contain particles resembling coffee grounds.

Haematuria - The presence of blood in the urine.

Haematoma - A swelling containing clotted blood.

Haematology - The science of the nature, functions and diseases of the blood.

Haemorrage - Escape of blood from a ruptured blood vessel.

Haemophilia - A familial disease passed by females to their sons. Clotting factors are absent from the blood. Injuries take longer to clot, and any operations require cover with anti-haemophilic factor (AHF).

Heparin - An anticoagulant formed in the liver. When injected, it prevents blood clots,

Herpes - An inflammatory skin condition. Small vesicles can occur in the mouth (cold sores) or in the vagina.

Histocytosis X - An increase in the number of histocytes (macrophages), which act as scavengers, removing bacteria from the blood and tissues. Includes three seperate illnesses: – Hand-Schuller-Christian disease, – Letterer siwe disease, – Eosinic Granuloma of the bone. Symptoms include bone lesions, anaemia, sore and swollen gums, sore areas ot skin and, occasionally, diabetes insipidus.

Histology - The science of structure, composition and function of tissues.

Hodgkins - A malignant disease of the reticulo-endothelial cells, with progressive enlargement of lymph nodes and lymph tissue all over the body.

Homograf t - A tissue or organ transplanted from one individual to another of the same species.

Hormone - A chemical substance produced in one organ and carried by blood to another, where it brings about some activity.

Hydration - Addition of water/fluid before starting chemotherapy. Patients are often hydrated with intravenous fluid to reduce the risk of kidney damage.

Hydrocortisone - A hormone affecting carbohydrate and protein metabolism. Given to prevent an allergic reaction.

Hypercalcaemia - An excess of calcium in the blood.

Hyperkalaemia - An excess of potassium in the blood.

Hypertension - Abnormally high blood pressure.

Hyperglycaemia - An excess of sugar in the blood.

Immunosuppressed - A condition when the body's ability to fight infection is reduced, either due to disease or treatment. Drugs such as Azathiopine and Cyclosporin are given to counteract the body's natural defence against infections and foreign bodies, to prevent rejection of a tissue or organ transplant.

Infection - This occurs when the body is invaded by organisms causing disease.

Intrathecal - Means 'within the meninges' of the spinal cord. certain drugs, such as Methotrexate, are given intrathecally to protect the nervous system from possible damage caused by chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Intravenous infusion - Slow injection of a fluid into a vein. Antibiotics, chemotherapy, blood products or simple fluids are given intravenously.

Jaundice - A yellow discolouration of the skin and conjunctivae of the eyes, due to the presence of a bile pigment in the blood. It may indicate infection or liver damage.

Ketones - Ketones are produced when fat is broken down in the body. When patients are having certain drugs, such as ifosphamide, the urine should be tested for the presence of blood and ketones. Ketones are not normally present in urine. A positive test indicates excessive breakdown of fat in the body.

Kidneys - Two organs, found in the lumbar region at the base of the spine, which purify the blood and secrete urine. Kidneys also help maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. It is important to record the urine output when a patient is receiving chemotherapy since many drugs can damage the kidneys.

Lactulose - A laxative commonly given to treat constipation, which can be caused by many drugs.

Leucocyte - A white blood cell. There are five types – neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils and basophils.

Leucopaenia - A decrease in the number of white cells in the blood.

Leukaemia - A malignant disease of the bone marrow and blood. Individual types of the disease are classified according to the types of cells involved and the maturity of the cells. Acute forms involve primitive or 'blast' cells, whereas chronic forms involve more differentiated cells. The immature cells grow rapidly at the expense of other cells, eventually spilling out of the bone marrow into the bloodstream. Signs include anaemia, infections and bruising and bleeding.

Liposarcoma - A malignant tumour of fat cells.

Lymph nodes - Structures placed along lymph vessels. They act as filters, preventing germs and poisons passing from tissues into the bloodstream. Found in the groin, neck etc. When fighting an infection, they become inflamed, swollen and painful.

Lymphoma - Any malignant tumour of lymphoid tissue. Usually classified as Hodgkins or Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

LFT's - Liver function tests.

Malignant - Defined in Pathology as any disease which could be fatal. Usually taken to mean cancerous.

Medullablastoma - A rapidly growing tumour of the neuro-epithelial tissue, usually near the fourth ventricle of the brain. Occurs in childhood.

Melaena - The passage of black faeces, stained with blood. Occurs after bleeding into the alimentory tract (the tube running from the mouth to the anus).

Melanoma - A malignant tumour arising in any pigment-containing tissue, especially the skin or the eye.

Mercaptopurine - A cytotoxic drug given in the treatment of leukaemia.

Methotrexate - A cytotoxic drug used in maintenance therapy for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and solid tumours and non-Hodgkins lymphomas. Methotrexate can affect the spinal cord, cause inflammation of the mucous membranes and pneumocystisis. Blood counts should be carefully monitored when intrathecal methotrexate is given.

Metoclopramide - A drug which speeds up gastric action and is used to treat vomiting.

Metastases - The transter of disease from one part of the body to another, through the blood vessels,via the lymph channels or across body cavities.

MRI Scan - Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan.

Morphine - A drug, derived from opium, given to relieve severe pain.

M.U.D. - Matched unrelated donor.

Myosarcoma - A tumour of muscle tissue.

Nasogastric Tube - A tube passed into the stomach via the nose to enable feeding of patients to improve nutritional state.

Neuroblastoma - A malignant tumour of immature nerve cells. Most common in the very young. Signs – 75% present with an abdominal mass. Also sweating, flushing, headaches, watery diahorrea, resulting in failure to thrive.

Neuropathy - A disease process of nerve degeneration and loss of function.

Neutrophil - A polymorphonuclear leucocyte. Responsible for fighting infection.

Neutropaenia - A decrease in the number of neutrophils in the blood.

Nystatin - An antibiotic drug used to treat fungal infections such as Candida Albicans (thrush) in the mouth. The suspension fluid should be placed in the mouth, after meals, and swilled about like a mouthwash before swallowing. Further food or drink should not be taken for a minimum ot ten minutes.

Oncology - The scientific study of tumours.

Oedema - An excessive amount of fluid in body tissues. If a finger is pressed upon an affected part, the skin forms into a pit and recovers shape only slowly.

Paediatrics - The branch of medicine dealing with diseases and disorders in chidren.

Pathogens - Parasitic micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses which can cause disease.

Plasma - The yellow fluid part of blood. A solution of salts and protein in which blood corpuscles are suspended.

Platelets - Thrombocytes. Structures found in the blood which are responsible for clotting. Platelets may be given to a patient if their platelet count is low (especially if they are pyrexial) to help prevent bleeding and bruising. Also often given before surgery to prevent excessive bleeding.

Pneumocystis - The organism which causes pneumonia. Immunosuppressed patients and young children are especially susceptible.

Prednisolone - A synthetic corticosteroid used in the treatment ot inflammatory and rheumatoid conditions. Also used in the treatment of leukaemia to suppress allergic and inflammatory reactions.

Pre-medication - Drugs given before theatre to help sedate the patient.

Pyrexia - Fever. A rise in body temperature between 37.5 C and 40.0 C.

Radiotherapy - Treatment of disease using X-rays or radioactive isotopes.

Relapse - The return of disease.

Remission - Absence of symptoms and clinical evidence of a disease for a period of time.

Renal - Relating to the kidneys.

Retinoblastoma - A malignant growth of abnormal nerve cells in the retina. It occurs in infancy and is congenital.

Rhabdomyosarcoma - A rare malignant growth of striated muscle. Growth is rapid and metastases occur early.

Rigor - An attack of intense shivering which can occur when the body's heat regulation mechanism is disturbed. Temperature rises rapidly. Rigor may be associated with an infection or be caused by a reaction to something, eg: blood products.

Sarcoma - A malignant tumour developed from connective tissue cells.

Scoliosis - Curvature of the spine.

Septicaemia - Bacteria in the blood. Signs – sudden rise in temperature, sweating, rigors.

Steroids - Hormones such as oestrogen and the corticosteroids. Naturally occuring, but can also be man-made.

Staging - The classification of malignant diseases according to the extent of tumour infiltration, the involvement of lymph nodes and the presence of metastases.

Symptomatic - Any evidence as to the nature and location of a disease.

Synergenic - Bone marrow transplant from an identical twin.

Terminal Care - Care given shortly before death. A patient may wish to spend his final days or weeks at home or in hospital.

Transfusion - The introcuction of blood or blood products into a vein, usually to rectify a deficiency in the patient's system.

Transplant - The removal of a section of tissue (graft) from one part of the body to another, or to another body.

Tumour - An abnormal swelling. Usually refers to a morbid growth of tissue, which may be benign or malignant.

T-Cell - A lymphocyte derived from the thymus and responsible for cell-mediated immunity.

Ultrasound - Ultrasonic waves used to examine the interior organs of the body. Can also be used to treat soft tissue pain.

Urea - A compound found in urine which acts as a diuretic. Normal level in the blood is 20-40mg/100ml.

Urinalysis - Bacterial or chemical examination of urine. When children receive certain types of chemotherapy, their urine should be tested.

Urine - Fluid secreted by the kidneys and passed out of the body through the bladder and urethra. composed of 96% water and 4% solids.

Vascuport - A totally implantable device composed of a metal disc with a rubber port, which is surgically implanted under the skin of the chest. Cosmetically, it is better than a central line since there are no tubes sticking out of the chest. However, use of the vascuport to give fluids etc. requires a needle to be placed in the reservoir. Emla cream is applied to the area to reduce pain. Vascuports have the same uses as central lines, and may be preferable, eg. for young children who may pull out central lines.

Vaccine - A suspension of killed or live organisms in saline solution, designed to protect the body against a specific disease by stimulating the body to produce antibodies.

Wilms Tumour - A malignant tumour ot the kidney, occurring in young children.

X-rays - Electromagnetic waves of length which can penetrate many substances and produce chemical changes or reactions in living tissue. They are used to diagnose and treat disease.

Yolk Sac Tumour - A tumour found in embryonic tissue. Present before birth in various parts of the body eg: the testes.

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