Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
The following are terms that you
might hear during you or your loved one's diagnosis and treatment of
Adjuvant or neoadjuvant therapy:
chemotherapy, radiotherapy or hormone therapy used to kill remaining cancer
cells left behind after surgery.
Advance directive: instructions on what
kind of care you would like to have if you become unable to make medical
Benign: any tumor, growth or cell
abnormality that is not cancerous. The growth will not spread to deeper tissues
or other parts of the body.
Biological therapy: therapy that uses the
body's own immune system to attack cancer cells. Biological therapy is sometimes
called immunotherapy, biotherapy or biological response
Biopsy: removal of a small portion of
tissue to see whether it is cancerous.
Carcinoma in situ (CIS): cancer that
involves only the cells in which it started and has not spread to deeper tissues
or other parts of the body.
Chemotherapy: therapy that uses drugs to
damage cancer cells and make it difficult for them to grow in number.
Clinical breast exam: examination done by
a health-care professional who has training in breast health.
Clinical trials: research studies that
involve actual patients. They are designed to find better ways to manage cancer
from prevention and detection to diagnosis and treatment.
Colonoscopy: insertion of a long,
flexible, lighted tube through the rectum and into the colon. This allows the
physician to check the lining of the colon for abnormalities.
Colposcopy: procedure where a lighted,
magnifying instrument (colposcope) is used to examine vaginal and cervical
Complementary and alternative medicine
(CAM): therapy used during or after cancer treatment that may help relieve
the symptoms of cancer and/or standard cancer treatments. Some examples of CAM
include meditation, yoga, spiritual counseling, acupuncture and acupressure, and
transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
Digital rectal exam: exam where the
doctor feels inside the rectum with his or her finger and checks for
Family history/genetic risk factor:
increased risk of cancer because a close relative, like a mother or a sister,
had or has had the disease.
Family physician: a doctor who
specializes in treating every part and disorder of the human body. He or she may
manage all or part of your cancer treatment.
Fecal occult blood test: test that checks
for the presence of blood in the stool. This test can be used to help diagnose
Fibroid: a benign tumor usually found in
Flexible sigmoidoscopy: insertion of a
flexible, lighted tube into the rectum. This tube is shorter than the tube used
in a colonoscopy. It allows the physician to check the rectum and part of the
colon for abnormalities.
Follow-up: an appointment with your
doctor after treatment to check the status of your cancer and overall
Invasive cancer: cancer that starts in
one area of the body and then spreads to the deeper tissues of that same area.
Localized: cancer affecting only the
cells of a certain area.
Lumpectomy: surgery that removes abnormal
or cancerous tissue and sometimes part of the surrounding healthy
Malignant: indicates that cancer cells
are present and may be able to spread to other parts of the body.
Mammogram: an x-ray taken of the breast
in order to check for abnormalities.
Mastectomy: surgical procedure that
removes all or part of a diseased (cancerous) breast.
Melanoma: a type of skin cancer where the
cancerous cells are found in the melanocytes (cells that make the skin darker
after being exposed to natural or artificial sunlight).
Nonmelanoma: a type of skin cancer where
the cancerous cells are found in places other than the melanocytes.
Metastasis: the spread of cancer from one
area of the body to another. For example, breast cancer may spread to the lymph
nodes and lung cancer may spread to the brain.
Neoadjuvant therapy: chemotherapy given
before surgery or radiotherapy.
Oncologist: a physician who specializes
Palliative care: therapy that focuses on
improving one's quality of life rather than curing his or her cancer.
Polyp: Usually a benign growth. Some
polyps on the wall of the colon or rectum can contain cancer or become cancerous
Pap smear: a test that involves the
scraping and study of cells that line the cervix. Pap smears (also called pap
tests) are used to detect precancerous and cancerous cells, as well as other
Pathologist: a doctor who identifies
diseases (such as cancer) by studying cells under a microscope.
Prognosis: the expected outcome of a
disease and chances for recovery.
Prosthesis: an artificial replacement for
a body part such as a breast or leg.
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test: a
test that measures the amount of a substance created by the prostate gland in
the blood. An elevated amount could be the result of infection, prostate cancer
or an enlarged prostate.
Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy):
therapy that uses high-energy rays (beams of light) or radioactive materials
to damage cancer cells, making it more difficult for them to grow in number.
Reconstructive surgery: operation
preformed to repair skin and muscles after surgery to treat cancer has been
performed. Often used to reconstruct a breast after a mastectomy.
Recurrence: the development of cancerous
cells in the same area or another area of the body after cancer treatment.
Risk factors: behaviors (such as smoking)
or other circumstances (family or genetic history) that may increase your risk
Side effects (of therapy): problems
caused by the damage of healthy cells along with cancerous cells during
treatment. Some common side effects of cancer therapy include being tired,
feeling sick to your stomach (nausea), throwing up, hair loss and mouth
Stages of cancer: the progression of
cancer from mild to severe. Usually indicates whether it has spread to deeper
tissues or other parts of the body. One method used by doctors to stage
different types of cancer is the TNM classification system. In this system,
doctors determine the presence and size of the tumor (T), how many (if any)
lymph nodes are involved (N) and whether or not the cancer has metastasized (M).
A number (usually 0-4) is assigned to each of the three categories to indicate
Surgery: a procedure that removes,
repairs or allows for the further study of a specific body
Tumor: an abnormal mass of tissue that
can be benign or malignant.