Cancer Education at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center  

Glossary of Cancer Terms - A

 

AAP Alanine aminopeptidase. An enzyme that is used as a biomarker to detect damage to the kidneys, and that may be used to help diagnose certain kidney disorders. It is found at high levels in the urine when there are kidney problems. Also called alanine aminopeptidase.

abarelix A drug used to reduce the amount of testosterone made in patients with advanced symptomatic prostate cancer for which no other treatment options are available. It belongs to the family of drugs called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonists. Also called Plenaxis.

ABCD rating A staging system for prostate cancer that uses ABCD. “A” and “B” refer to cancer that is confined to the prostate. “C” refers to cancer that has grown out of the prostate but has not spread to lymph nodes or other places in the body. “D” refers to cancer that has spread to lymph nodes or to other places in the body. Also called the Jewett staging system or the Whitmore-Jewett staging system.

abdomen The area of the body that contains the pancreas, stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder and other organs.

abdominal Having to do with the abdomen, which is the part of the body between the chest and the hips that contains the pancreas, stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder and other organs.

abdominal X-ray An X-ray of the organs inside the abdomen. An X-ray is a type of radiation that can pass through the body and onto film, making pictures of areas inside the body. X-rays may be used to help diagnose disease.

abdominoperineal resection Surgery to remove the anus, the rectum, and part of the sigmoid colon through an incision made in the abdomen. The end of the intestine is attached to an opening in the surface of the abdomen and body waste is collected in a disposable bag outside of the body. This opening is called a colostomy. Lymph nodes that contain cancer may also be removed during this operation.

ablation In medicine, the removal or destruction of a body part or tissue or its function. Ablation may be performed by surgery, hormones, drugs, radiofrequency, heat or other methods.

abnormal Not normal. An abnormal lesion or growth may be cancerous, premalignant (likely to become cancer) or benign.

Abraxane A drug used to treat breast cancer that has spread or that has come back within 6 months after chemotherapy. It is also being studied in the treatment of newly diagnosed breast cancer and other types of cancer. Abraxane belongs to the family of drugs called mitotic inhibitors. Also called nanoparticle paclitaxel, protein-bound paclitaxel, Paclitaxel (Albumin-Stabilized Nanoparticle Formulation) and ABI-007.

abscess An enclosed collection of pus in tissues, organs or confined spaces in the body. An abscess is a sign of infection and is usually swollen and inflamed.

absorption The process of taking nutrients from the digestive system into the blood so they can be used in the body.

accelerated phase chronic myelogenous leukemia A phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia in which the disease is progressing. In this phase, 6% to 30% of the cells in the blood and bone marrow are blast cells (immature blood cells).

ACE inhibitor Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor. A drug that is used to lower blood pressure. An ACE inhibitor is a type of antihypertensive agent. Also called angtiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor.

acetaminophen A drug that reduces pain and fever (but not inflammation). It belongs to the family of drugs called analgesics.

acetylcysteine A drug usually used to reduce the thickness of mucus and ease its removal. It is also used to reverse the toxicity of high doses of acetaminophen. Also called N-acetylcysteine and N-acetyl-L-cysteine.

achlorhydria A lack of hydrochloric acid in the digestive juices in the stomach. Hydrochloric acid helps digest food.

acitretin A substance that is used in the prevention of cancer and in the treatment of psoriasis. It belongs to the family of drugs called retinoids.

acoustic neurofibromatosis A genetic condition in which tumors form on the nerves of the inner ear and cause loss of hearing and balance. Tumors may also occur in the brain and on nerves in the skull and spinal cord, and may cause loss of speech, eye movement and the ability to swallow. Also called neurofibromatosis type 2 and NF2.

acquired immunodeficiency syndrome AIDS. A disease caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). People with AIDS are at an increased risk for developing certain cancers and for infections that usually occur only in individuals with a weak immune system. Also called AIDS.

acridine carboxamide DACA. A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of topoisomerase inhibitor. Also called DACA.

acrylonitrile A substance used to make plastics, rubber, and textiles. Being exposed to acrylonitrile may increase the risk of developing certain cancers, such as lung, brain or prostate cancer.

Actinex A drug put on the skin to treat growths caused by sun exposure. A form of nordihydroguaiaretic acid that is taken by mouth is being studied in the treatment of prostate cancer. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid is an antioxidant, and it may block certain enzymes needed for tumor growth. Also called nordihydroguaiaretic acid, NDGA and masoprocol.

actinic keratosis A precancerous condition of thick, scaly patches of skin. Also called solar keratosis and senile keratosis.

action study In cancer prevention clinical trials, a study that focuses on finding out whether actions people take can prevent cancer.

Activase A protein that is made by the body and that helps dissolve blood clots. It can also be made in the laboratory and is used in the treatment of heart attack and stroke. It is also being studied in the treatment of cancer. Activase belongs to the family of drugs called systemic thrombolytic agents. Also called tissue plasminogen activator, tPA, recombinant tissue plasminogen activator, r-tPA and Alteplase.

activate In biology, to stimulate a cell in a resting state to become active. This causes biochemical and functional changes in the activated cell.

activities of daily living ADL. The tasks of everyday life. Basic ADLs include eating, dressing, getting into or out of a bed or chair, taking a bath or shower and using the toilet. Instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) are activities related to independent living and include preparing meals, managing money, shopping, doing housework and using a telephone. Also called ADL.

Actos A drug that is used to treat type 2 diabetes and is being studied in the prevention of head and neck cancer. It may be able to stop leukoplakia (a precancerous condition affecting the mouth) from developing into cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called thiazolidinediones. Also called pioglitazone.

acupoint Aspecific spot on the body where an acupuncture needle may be inserted to control pain and other symptoms. Also called an acupuncture point.

acupressure The application of pressure or localized massage to specific sites on the body to control symptoms such as pain or nausea. It is a type of complementary and alternative medicine.

acupuncture The technique of inserting thin needles through the skin at specific points on the body to control pain and other symptoms. It is a type of complementary and alternative medicine.

acupuncture point A specific spot on the body where an acupuncture needle may be inserted to control pain and other symptoms. Also called an acupoint.

acupuncture point injection A procedure in which drugs, vitamins, herbal extracts or other fluids are injected into the body at an acupuncture point using a syringe and needle.

acustimulation Mild electrical stimulation of acupuncture points to control symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.

acute leukemia A rapidly progressing cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow, and causes large numbers of white blood cells to be produced and enter the blood stream.

acute lymphoblastic leukemia ALL. A fast-growing type of leukemia (blood cancer) in which too many lymphoblasts (immature white blood cells) are found in the blood and bone marrow. Also called ALL and acute lymphocytic leukemia.

acute lymphocytic leukemia ALL. A fast-growing type of leukemia (blood cancer) in which too many lymphoblasts (immature white blood cells) are found in the blood and bone marrow. Also called ALL and acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

acute myelogenous leukemia AML. A quickly progressing disease in which too many immature white blood cells (not lymphocytes) are found in the blood and bone marrow. Also called AML, acute myeloid leukemia and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia.

acute myeloid leukemia AML. A quickly progressing disease in which too many immature white blood cells (not lymphocytes) are found in the blood and bone marrow. Also called AML, acute myelogenous leukemia and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia.

acute nonlymphocytic leukemia A quickly progressing disease in which too many immature white blood cells (not lymphocytes) are found in the blood and bone marrow. Also called acute myelogenous leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia and AML.

acute pain Pain that comes on quickly, can be severe, but lasts a relatively short time.

acute promyelocytic leukemia APL. An aggressive (fast-growing) type of acute myeloid leukemia in which there are too many immature blood-forming cells in the blood and bone marrow. It is usually marked by an exchange of parts of chromosomes 15 and 17. Also called APL and promyelocytic leukemia.

acyclovir A substance used to prevent or treat cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex infections that may occur when the body is immunosuppressed. It belongs to the family of drugs called antivirals.

AD 32 A drug that is used to treat bladder cancer that does not respond to BCG (Bacillus Calmette Guerin). It is an anthracycline and belongs to the family of drugs called antitumor antibiotics. Also called valrubicin.

Adderall A combination of drugs that is used as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (a sleep disorder). It belongs to the family of drugs called stimulants. Also called dextroamphetamine-amphetamine.

adenocarcinoma Cancer that begins in cells that line certain internal organs and that have gland-like (secretory) properties.

adenoid cystic carcinoma A rare type of cancer that usually begins in the salivary glands.

adenoma A noncancerous tumor.

adenopathy Large or swollen lymph glands.

adenosine triphosphate ATP. A substance present in all living cells that provides energy for many metabolic processes and is involved in making RNA. ATP made in the laboratory is being studied in patients with advanced solid tumors to see if it can decrease weight loss and improve muscle strength. Also called ATP.

adenovirus A group of viruses that cause respiratory tract and eye infections. Adenoviruses used in gene therapy are altered to carry a specific tumor-fighting gene.

adjunct agent In cancer therapy, a drug or substance used in addition to the primary therapy.

adjunct therapy Another treatment used together with the primary treatment. Its purpose is to assist the primary treatment. Also called adjunctive therapy.

adjunctive therapy Another treatment used together with the primary treatment. Its purpose is to assist the primary treatment. Also called adjunct therapy.

adjustment disorder A condition in which a person responds to a stressful event (such as an illness, job loss or divorce) with extreme emotions and actions that cause problems at work and home.

adjuvant therapy Treatment given after the primary treatment to increase the chances of a cure. Adjuvant therapy may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy or biological therapy.

ADL Activities of daily living. The tasks of everyday life. Basic ADLs include eating, dressing, getting into or out of a bed or chair, taking a bath or shower and using the toilet. Instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) are activities related to independent living and include preparing meals, managing money, shopping, doing housework and using a telephone. Also called activities of daily living.

adnexal mass A lump in tissue near the uterus, usually in the ovary or fallopian tube. Adnexal masses include ovarian cysts, ectopic (tubal) pregnancies and benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous) tumors.

adrenal cancer Cancer that forms in the tissues of the adrenal glands (two glands located just above the kidneys). The adrenal glands make hormones that control heart rate, blood pressure and other important body functions. Adrenal cancer that starts in the outside layer of the adrenal gland is called adrenocortical carcinoma. Adrenal cancer that starts in the center of the adrenal gland is called malignant pheochromocytoma.

adrenal cortex The outer part of the adrenal gland (a small organ on top of each kidney). The adrenal cortex makes androgen and corticosteroid hormones.

adrenal gland A small gland that makes steroid hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline. These hormones help control heart rate, blood pressure and other important body functions. There are two adrenal glands, one on top of each kidney. Also called suprarenal gland.

adrenal medulla The inner part of the adrenal gland (a small organ on top of each kidney). The adrenal medulla makes chemicals such as epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) which are involved in sending nerve signals.

adrenalectomy Surgery to remove one or both adrenal glands (a small organ on top of each kidney).

adrenaline A hormone and neurotransmitter. Also called epinephrine.

adrenocortical Having to do with or made by the outer layer of the adrenal gland, which produces steroid hormones. There is an adrenal gland on top of each kidney.

adrenocortical cancer A rare cancer that forms in the outer layer of tissue of the adrenal gland (a small organ on top of each kidney that makes steroid hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline to control heart rate, blood pressure and other body functions). Also called adrenocortical carcinoma and cancer of the adrenal cortex.

adrenocortical carcinoma A rare cancer that forms in the outer layer of tissue of the adrenal gland (a small organ on top of each kidney that makes steroid hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline to control heart rate, blood pressure and other body functions). Also called adrenocortical cancer and cancer of the adrenal cortex.

Adriamycin An anticancer drug that is a type of anthracycline antitumor antibiotic. Also called doxorubicin.

adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma ATLL. An aggressive (fast-growing) type of T-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma caused by the human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). It is marked by bone and skin lesions, high calcium levels, and enlarged lymph nodes, spleen and liver. Also called ATLL.

advanced malignant mesothelioma Malignant mesothelioma that is stage II, III or IV.

adverse effect An unwanted side effect of treatment.

adverse event An unexpected medical problem that happens during treatment with a drug or other therapy. Adverse events do not have to be caused by the drug or therapy, and they may be mild, moderate or severe.

aerobic In biochemistry, reactions that need oxygen to happen or happen when oxygen is present.

aerobic metabolism A chemical process in which oxygen is used to make energy from carbohydrates (sugars). Also called aerobic respiration, oxidative metabolism and cell respiration.

aerobic respiration A chemical process in which oxygen is used to make energy from carbohydrates (sugars). Also called oxidative metabolism, cell respiration and aerobic metabolism.

aerodigestive tract The combined organs and tissues of the respiratory tract and the upper part of the digestive tract (including the lips, mouth, tongue, nose, throat, vocal cords and part of the esophagus and windpipe).

aerosolize In medicine, to turn a liquid drug into a fine mist that can be inhaled.

aflatoxin A harmful substance made by certain types of mold (Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus) that is often found on poorly stored grains and nuts. Consumption of foods contaminated with aflatoxin is a risk factor for primary liver cancer.

AFP Alpha-fetoprotein. A protein normally produced by a fetus. AFP levels are usually undetectable in the blood of healthy adult men or women (who are not pregnant). An elevated level of AFP suggests the presence of either a primary liver cancer or germ cell tumor. Also called alpha-fetoprotein.

agent study In cancer prevention, a clinical trial that studies whether taking certain medicines, vitamins, minerals or food supplements can prevent cancer. Also called chemoprevention study.

agglutinin A substance that makes particles (such as bacteria or cells) stick together to form a clump or a mass.

aggravating factor Something that makes a condition worse. For example, tobacco smoke is an aggravating factor for asthma.

aggressive lymphoma A type of lymphoma that grows and spreads quickly, and has severe symptoms. It is seen frequently in patients who are HIV-positive (AIDS-related lymphoma). Also called intermediate-grade lymphoma and high-grade lymphoma.

agitation A condition in which a person is unable to relax and be still. The person may be very tense and irritable, and become easily annoyed by small things. He or she may be eager to have an argument, and be unwilling to work with caregivers to make the situation better.

agnogenic myeloid metaplasia A progressive, chronic disease in which the bone marrow is replaced by fibrous tissue and blood is made in organs such as the liver and the spleen, instead of in the bone marrow. This disease is marked by an enlarged spleen and progressive anemia. Also called chronic idiopathic myelofibrosis, primary myelofibrosis, myelosclerosis with myeloid metaplasia and idiopathic myelofibrosis.

agonist A drug that triggers an action from a cell or another drug.

agranulocyte A type of white blood cell; monocytes and lymphocytes are agranulocytes.

AIDS-related cancer Certain cancer types that are more likely to occur in people who are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The most common types are Kaposi’s sarcoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Other AIDS-related cancers include Hodgkin’s disease and cancers of the lung, mouth, cervix and digestive system.

AJCC staging system A system developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer for describing the extent of cancer in a patient’s body. The descriptions include TNM: T describes the size of the tumor and if it has invaded nearby tissue, N describes any lymph nodes that are involved and M describes metastasis (spread of cancer from one body part to another).

alanine aminopeptidase AAP. An enzyme that is used as a biomarker to detect damage to the kidneys, and that may be used to help diagnose certain kidney disorders. It is found at high levels in the urine when there are kidney problems. Also called AAP.

alanine transferase An enzyme found in the liver and other tissues. A high level of alanine transferase released into the blood may be a sign of liver damage, cancer or other diseases. Also called serum glutamate pyruvate transaminase or SGPT.

alanosine A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called antimetabolites. Also called SDX-102.

albinism A group of genetic conditions marked by little or none of the pigment melanin in the skin, hair and/or eyes. People with albinism may have vision problems and white or yellow hair; reddish, violet, blue or brown eyes; and pale skin.

Aldara A drug used to treat early basal cell skin cancer and certain other skin conditions. It is being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Aldara belongs to the family of drugs called biological response modifiers. Also called imiquimod.

aldehyde A type of chemical substance made from alcohol. Aldehydes are found in essential oils (scented liquid taken from plants).

aldesleukin A laboratory-made colony-stimulating factor that stimulates the production of blood cells, especially platelets, during chemotherapy. It is a cytokine that belongs to the family of drugs called hematopoietic (blood-forming) agents. Also called interleukin-2 or IL-2.

alemtuzumab A type of monoclonal antibody used in the treatment of leukemia. Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-produced substances that can locate and bind to cancer cells. Also called Campath-1H.

alendronate sodium A drug that affects bone metabolism. It is used in treating osteoporosis and Paget's disease, and is being studied in the treatment of hypercalcemia (abnormally high levels of calcium in the blood) and in treating and reducing the risk of bone pain caused by cancer. Alendronate sodium belongs to the family of drugs called bisphosphonates.

Alimta A drug that is used to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma and advanced non-small cell lung cancer and is being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called enzyme inhibitors. Also called pemetrexed disodium and LY231514.

alkalinization The process by which a substance becomes an alkali. An alkali is the opposite of an acid.

alkaloid A member of a large group of chemicals that are made by plants and have nitrogen in them. Some alkaloids have been shown to work against cancer.

Alkeran A drug that is used to treat multiple myeloma and ovarian epithelial cancer and is being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called alkylating agents. Also called melphalan.

alkylating agent A drug that is used in the treatment of cancer. It interferes with the cell's DNA and inhibits cancer cell growth.

ALL Acute lymphoblastic leukemia. A quickly progressing disease in which too many immature white blood cells called lymphoblasts are found in the blood and bone marrow. Also called acute lymphoblastic leukemia and acute lymphocytic leukemia.

all-trans retinoic acid ATRA. A form of vitamin A that is made by the body and can also be made in the laboratory. It is used to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia, usually together with other drugs, and to treat acne. It is being studied in the treatment and prevention of other types of cancer. Also called ATRA, tretinoin, retinoic acid and vitamin A acid.

allergen A substance that causes an allergic response. Examples include pollen, molds and certain foods.

allergic response A hypersensitive immune reaction to a substance that normally is harmless or would not cause an immune response in everyone. An allergic response may cause harmful symptoms such as itching or inflammation or tissue injury.

allogeneic Taken from different individuals of the same species. Also called allogenic.

allogeneic bone marrow transplantation A procedure in which a person receives stem cells (cells from which all blood cells develop) from a genetically similar, but not identical, donor.

allogeneic stem cell transplantation A procedure in which a person receives blood-forming stem cells (cells from which all blood cells develop) from a genetically similar, but not identical, donor. This is often a sister or brother, but could be an unrelated donor.

allogenic Taken from different individuals of the same species. Also called allogeneic.

allopathic medicine A system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation or surgery. Also called conventional medicine, Western medicine, mainstream medicine, orthodox medicine and biomedicine.

allopurinol A drug that lowers high levels of uric acid (a byproduct of metabolism) in the blood caused by some cancer treatments.

aloe-emodin A substance found in certain plants, including aloe vera. It belongs to a family of compounds called anthraquinones, which have shown anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects.

alopecia The lack or loss of hair from areas of the body where hair is usually found. Alopecia can be a side effect of some cancer treatments.

alpha-fetoprotein AFP. A protein normally produced by a fetus. AFP levels are usually undetectable in the blood of healthy adult men or women (who are not pregnant). An elevated level of AFP suggests the presence of either a primary liver cancer or germ cell tumor. Also called AFP.

alpha-lipoic acid A substance that is being studied for its ability to protect normal cells from the side effects of chemotherapy and prevent peripheral neuropathy (numbness, tingling, burning and weakness in the hands or feet). Alpha-lipoic acid is made by the body and can be found in foods such as organ meats, spinach, broccoli, peas, brussel sprouts and rice bran. It can also be made in the laboratory. Alpha-lipoic acid is a type of antioxidant and chemoprotective agent.

Alteplase A protein that is made by the body and that helps dissolve blood clots. It can also be made in the laboratory and is used in the treatment of heart attack and stroke. It is being studied in the treatment of cancer. Alteplase belongs to the family of drugs called systemic thrombolytic agents. Also called tissue plasminogen activator, tPA, recombinant tissue plasminogen activator, r-tPA, and Activase.

alteration A change resulting in something that is different from the original.

alternative medicine Practices used instead of standard treatments. They generally are not recognized by the medical community as standard or conventional medical approaches. Alternative medicine includes dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, acupuncture, massage therapy, magnet therapy, spiritual healing and meditation.

altretamine An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called alkylating agents.

alum A type of immune adjuvant (a substance used to help boost the immune response to a vaccine). Also called aluminum sulfate.

aluminum sulfate A type of immune adjuvant (a substance used to help boost the immune response to a vaccine). Also called alum.

ALVAC-CEA vaccine A cancer vaccine containing a canary pox virus (ALVAC) combined with the human carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) gene.

alveoli Tiny air sacs at the end of the bronchioles in the lungs.

Amanita phalloides A type of poisonous mushroom that has harmful effects on the kidneys and liver. It is responsible for most fatal cases of mushroom poisoning. Also called death cap.

Ambien A drug used to treat insomnia (inability to sleep), and anxiety. It is a type of imidazopyridine (sedative hypnotic). Also called zolpidem.

amelanotic melanoma A type of skin cancer in which the cells do not make melanin. Skin lesions are often irregular and may be pink, red, or have light brown, tan or gray at the edges.

amethopterin A drug used to treat some types of cancers, including breast, head and neck, lung, blood, and bone and other disorders. It belongs to the family of drugs called antimetabolites. Also called methotrexate.

amifostine A drug used as a chemoprotective drug to control some of the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

amikacin An antibiotic drug used to treat infection. It belongs to the family of drugs called aminoglycoside antibiotics.

amino acid A type of molecule that joins together to form proteins. There are about 20 common amino acids found in proteins.

amino acid sequence The arrangement of amino acids in a protein. Proteins can be made from 20 different kinds of amino acids, and the structure and function of each type of protein are determined by the kinds of amino acids used to make it and how they are arranged.

aminocamptothecin An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called topoisomerase inhibitors.

aminoglutethimide An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitors. Aminoglutethimide is used to decrease the production of sex hormones (estrogen in women or testosterone in men) and suppress the growth of tumors that need sex hormones to grow.

aminoglycoside antibiotic A type of antibiotic that works against many types of bacteria and includes streptomycin, gentamicin and neomycin. Aminoglycosides are used to treat bacterial infections.

aminolevulinic acid A drug used to treat a precancerous skin condition called actinic keratosis. It is also being studied in the treatment of skin cancer and other types of cancer. When absorbed by abnormal cells and exposed to light, aminolevulinic acid becomes active and kills the cells. It is a type of photosensitizing agent.

aminopterin An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called antimetabolites.

AML Acute myelogenous leukemia. A quickly progressing disease in which too many immature white blood cells (not lymphocytes) are found in the blood and bone marrow. Also called acute myelogenous leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia.

amonafide A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the families of drugs called topoisomerase inhibitors and intercalating agents.

amoxicillin An antibiotic drug used to treat infection. It belongs to the family of drugs called penicillins or penicillin derivatives.

amphotericin B A drug used in the treatment of infections caused by fungi. It belongs to the family of drugs called antifungals.

Amplimexon A substance that is being studied in the treatment of some types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, breast, prostate, melanoma and multiple myeloma. It belongs to the family of drugs called cyanoaziridine derivatives. Also called imexon.

ampulla A sac-like enlargement of a canal or duct.

ampulla of Vater An enlargement of the ducts from the liver and pancreas at the point where they enter the small intestine.

amsacrine An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called topoisomerase inhibitors.

amygdalin A substance found in the pits of many fruits such as apricots and papayas, and in other foods. It has been tried in some countries as a treatment for cancer, but it has not been shown to work in clinical studies. Amygdalin is not approved for use in the United States. Also called laetrile.

amylase An enzyme that helps the body digest starches.

amyloidosis A group of diseases in which protein is deposited in specific organs (localized amyloidosis) or throughout the body (systemic amyloidosis). Amyloidosis may be either primary (with no known cause) or secondary (caused by another disease, including some types of cancer). Generally, primary amyloidosis affects the nerves, skin, tongue, joints, heart and liver; secondary amyloidosis often affects the spleen, kidneys, liver and adrenal glands.

anagrelide A drug that is used to decrease the number of platelets in the blood in order to prevent blood clotting.

anakinra A substance that is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and is being studied in the treatment of cancer. Anakinra blocks the action of interleukin 1 (IL-1). It is a type of interleukin receptor antagonist. Also called Kinaret.

anal Having to do with the anus, which is the posterior opening of the large bowel.

anal cancer Cancer that forms in tissues of the anus. The anus is the opening of the rectum (last part of the large intestine) to the outside of the body.

analgesia Pain relief.

analgesic A drug that reduces pain. Analgesics include aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

analog In chemistry, a substance that is similar, but not identical, to another.

analysis A process in which anything complex is separated into simple or less complex parts.

anaphylactic shock A severe and sometimes life-threatening immune system reaction to an antigen that a person has been previously exposed to. The reaction may include itchy skin, edema, collapsed blood vessels, fainting and difficulty in breathing.

anaplastic A term used to describe cancer cells that divide rapidly and have little or no resemblance to normal cells.

anaplastic large cell lymphoma An aggressive (fast-growing) type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that is usually of the T-cell type. The cancer cells express a marker called CD30 or Ki-1 on the surface, and may appear in the lymph nodes, skin, bones, soft tissues, lungs or liver.

anaplastic thyroid cancer A rare, aggressive type of thyroid cancer in which the malignant (cancer) cells look very different from normal thyroid cells.

anastomosis A procedure to connect healthy sections of tubular structures in the body after the diseased portion has been surgically removed.

anastrozole An anticancer drug that is used to decrease estrogen production and suppress the growth of tumors that need estrogen to grow. It belongs to the family of drugs called nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitors.

anatomic Having to do with anatomy (the study of the structure of a plant or animal).

anatomy The study of the structure of a plant or animal.

ancestim A drug that is being studied for its ability to increase the number of stem cells in the blood. It belongs to the family of drugs called hematopoietic cell growth factors. Also called stem cell factor, SCF and Stemgen.

androblastoma A rare type of ovarian tumor in which the tumor cells secrete a male sex hormone. This may cause virilization (the appearance of male physical characteristics in females). Also called arrhenoblastoma and Sertoli-Leydig cell tumor of the ovary.

androgen A type of hormone that promotes the development and maintenance of male sex characteristics.

androgen ablation Treatment to suppress or block the production of male hormones. Androgen ablation is achieved by surgical removal of the testicles, by taking female sex hormones, or by taking other drugs (antiandrogens). Also called androgen suppression.

androgen suppression Treatment to suppress or block the production of male hormones. Androgen suppression is achieved by surgical removal of the testicles, by taking female sex hormones, or by taking other drugs, antiandrogens. Also called androgen ablation.

androgen-independent Describes the ability of tumor cells to grow in the absence of androgens (hormones that promote the development and maintenance of male sex characteristics). Many early prostate cancers require androgens for growth, but advanced prostate cancers are often androgen-independent.

anecdotal report An incomplete description of the medical and treatment history of one or more patients. Anecdotal reports may be published in places other than peer-reviewed, scientific journals.

anemia A condition in which the number of red blood cells is below normal.

anesthesia Drugs or substances that cause loss of feeling or awareness. Local anesthetics cause loss of feeling in a part of the body. General anesthetics put the person to sleep.

anesthesiologist A doctor who specializes in giving drugs or other agents to prevent or relieve pain during surgery or other procedures being done in the hospital.

anesthetic A substance that causes loss of feeling or awareness. Local anesthetics cause loss of feeling in a part of the body. General anesthetics put the person to sleep.

anetholtrithione A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer.

angelica root The root of any of a group of herbs called Angelica. It has been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems, including gastrointestinal problems such as loss of appetite, feelings of fullness and gas.

angiogenesis Blood vessel formation. Tumor angiogenesis is the growth of blood vessels from surrounding tissue to a solid tumor. This is caused by the release of chemicals by the tumor.

angiogenesis inhibitor A substance that may prevent the formation of blood vessels. In anticancer therapy, an angiogenesis inhibitor prevents the growth of blood vessels from surrounding tissue to a solid tumor.

angiogram An X-ray of blood vessels; the person receives an injection of dye to outline the vessels on the X-ray.

angiography A procedure to X-ray blood vessels. The blood vessels can be seen because of an injection of a dye that shows up in the X-ray pictures.

angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma An aggressive (fast-growing) type of T-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma marked by enlarged lymph nodes and hypergammaglobulinemia (increased antibodies in the blood). Other symptoms may include a skin rash, fever, weight loss, or night sweats.

angiomyolipoma A benign (noncancer) tumor of fat and muscle tissue that usually is found in the kidney. Angiomyolipomas rarely cause symptoms, but may bleed or grow large enough to be painful or cause kidney failure. They are common in patients with tuberous sclerosis (a genetic disorder in which benign tumors grow in the kidneys, brain, eyes, heart, lungs, and skin, causing seizures, mental problems, and skin lesions).

angiosarcoma A type of cancer that begins in the cells that line blood vessels or lymph vessels. Cancer that begins in blood vessels is called hemangiosarcoma. Cancer that begins in lymph vessels is called lymphangiosarcoma.

angiostatin A protein normally made by the body. It can also be made in the laboratory, and is being studied in the treatment of cancer. Angiostatin may prevent the growth of new blood vessels from the surrounding tissue to a solid tumor. It belongs to the family of drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors.

angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor ACE inhibitor. A drug that is used to lower blood pressure. An antiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor is a type of antihypertensive agent. Also called ACE inhibitor.

Angiozyme A substance that is being studied in the treatment of kidney cancer. It may prevent the growth of blood vessels from surrounding tissue to the tumor. It belongs to the families of drugs called VEGF receptor and angiogenesis inhibitors. Also called RPI.4610.

anhydrovinblastine An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called mitotic inhibitors.

anidulafungin A drug that is used to treat infections caused by fungi. It belongs to the family of drugs called antifungals.

animal model An animal with a disease either the same as or like a disease in humans. Animal models are used to study the development and progression of diseases and to test new treatments before they are given to humans. Animals with transplanted human cancers or other tissues are called xenograft models.

animal study A laboratory experiment using animals to study the development and progression of diseases. Animal studies also test how safe and effective new treatments are before they are tested in people.

annamycin A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called anthracycline antibiotics.

anorexia An abnormal loss of the appetite for food. Anorexia can be caused by cancer, AIDS, a mental disorder (i.e., anorexia nervosa) or other diseases.

anorexia nervosa An eating disorder marked by an intense fear of gaining weight, a refusal to maintain a healthy weight, and a distorted body image. People with anorexia nervosa have an abnormal loss of appetite for food, try to avoid eating and eat as little as possible.

ANS Autonomic nervous system. The part of the nervous system that controls muscles of internal organs (such as the heart, blood vessels, lungs, stomach and intestines) and glands (such as salivary glands and sweat glands). One part of the ANS helps the body rest, relax and digest food and another part helps a person fight or take flight in an emergency. Also called autonomic nervous system and involuntary nervous system.

ansamycin An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called antineoplastic antibiotics.

antagonist In medicine, a substance that stops the action or effect of another substance. For example, a drug that blocks the stimulating effect of estrogen on a tumor cell is called an estrogen receptor antagonist.

anterior In human anatomy, has to do with the front of a structure, or a structure found toward the front of the body.

anterior mediastinotomy A procedure in which a tube is inserted into the chest to view the tissues and organs in the area between the lungs and between the breastbone and heart. The tube is inserted through an incision next to the breastbone. This procedure is usually used to get a tissue sample from the lymph nodes on the left side of the chest. Also called the Chamberlain procedure.

anterior mediastinum The area in the front part of the chest between the lungs. Also called prevascular space.

anterior pelvic exenteration Surgery to remove the urethra, lower part of the ureters, uterus, cervix, vagina and bladder.

anterior urethral cancer A disease in which malignant (cancer) cells are found in the part of the urethra (the tube through which urine leaves the body) that is closest to the outside of the body.

anthracenedione An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called anticancer antibiotics.

anthracycline A type of antibiotic that comes from the fungus Streptococcus peucetius. Anthracyclines are used as treatments for cancer. Daunorubicin, doxorubicin and epirubicin are anthracyclines.

anthraquinone A type of anticancer drug.

anti-CEA antibody An antibody against carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a protein present on certain types of cancer cells.

anti-EpCAM-Pseudomonas-exotoxin fusion protein A substance being studied in the treatment of certain types of head and neck cancer. Anti-EpCAM-Pseudomonas-exotoxin fusion protein is made by linking a monoclonal antibody fragment to a toxic protein that may kill cancer cells. It binds to EpCAM (a protein on the surface of epithelial cells and some types of cancer cells). Also called VB4-845 and Proxinium.

anti-idiotype vaccine A vaccine made of antibodies that see other antibodies as the antigen and bind to it. Anti-idiotype vaccines can stimulate the body to produce antibodies against tumor cells.

antiandrogen A drug used to block the production or interfere with the action of male sex hormones.

antiandrogen therapy Treatment with drugs used to block production or interfere with the action of male sex hormones.

antiangiogenesis Prevention of the growth of new blood vessels.

antiangiogenic Having to do with reducing the growth of new blood vessels.

antiapoptotic Something that prevents apoptosis. Apoptosis is a type of cell death in which a series of molecular steps in a cell leads to its death.

antibacterial A substance that kills bacteria or stops them from growing and causing disease.

antibiotic A drug used to treat infections caused by bacteria and other microorganisms.

antibody A type of protein made by plasma cells (a type of white blood cell) in response to an antigen (foreign substance). Each antibody can bind to only one specific antigen. The purpose of this binding is to help destroy the antigen. Antibodies can work in several ways, depending on the nature of the antigen. Some antibodies destroy antigens directly. Others make it easier for white blood cells to destroy the antigen.

antibody therapy Treatment with an antibody, a substance that can directly kill specific tumor cells or stimulate the immune system to kill tumor cells.

anticachexia Describes a drug or effect that works against cachexia (loss of body weight and muscle mass).

anticancer antibiotic A type of anticancer drug that blocks cell growth by interfering with DNA, the genetic material in cells. Also called an antitumor antibiotic or antineoplastic antibiotic.

anticarcinogenic Having to do with preventing or delaying the development of cancer.

anticoagulant A drug that helps prevent blood clots from forming. Also called a blood thinner.

anticonvulsant A drug or other substance used to prevent or stop seizures or convulsions. Also called an antiepileptic.

antidepressant A drug used to treat depression.

antiemetic A drug that prevents or reduces nausea and vomiting.

antiepileptic A drug or other substance used to prevent or stop seizures or convulsions. Also called an anticonvulsant.

antiestrogen A substance that blocks the activity of estrogens, the family of hormones that promote the development and maintenance of female sex characteristics.

antifolate A substance that blocks the activity of folic acid. Antifolates are used to treat cancer. Also called folate antagonist.

antifungal A drug that treats infections caused by fungi.

antigen A substance that causes the immune system to make a specific immune response.

antigen-presenting cell APC. A cell that shows an antigen on its surface to other cells of the immune system. This is an important part of an immune response. Also called APC.

antigen-presenting cell vaccine A vaccine made of antigens and antigen-presenting cells (APCs). Also called APC vaccine.

antiglobulin test A laboratory test to identify antibodies that can bind to the surface of red blood cells or platelets and destroy them. This test is used to diagnose certain blood disorders in which patients make antibodies to their own red blood cells or platelets. It is also used to determine blood type. Also called Coomb's test.

antihistamine A type of drug that blocks the action of histamines, which can cause fever, itching, sneezing, a runny nose and watery eyes. Antihistamines are used to prevent fevers in patients receiving blood transfusions and to treat allergies, coughs and colds.

antihormone therapy Treatment with drugs, surgery, or radiation in order to block the production or action of a hormone. Antihormone therapy may be used in cancer treatment because certain hormones are able to stimulate the growth of some types of tumors.

antimetabolite A drug that is very similar to natural chemicals in a normal biochemical reaction in cells but different enough to interfere with the normal division and functions of cells.

antimicrobial A substance that kills microorganisms such as bacteria or mold, or stops them from growing and causing disease.

antimicrotubule agent A type of drug that blocks cell growth by stopping cell division. Antimicrotubule agents are used to treat cancer. Also called antimitotic agent, mitotic inhibitor, taxane and vinca alkaloid.

antimitotic agent A type of drug that blocks cell growth by stopping cell division. Antimitotic agents are used to treat cancer. Also called antimicrotubule agent, mitotic inhibitor, taxane and vinca alkaloid.

antineoplastic A substance that blocks the formation of neoplasms (growths that may become cancerous).

antineoplastic antibiotic A type of anticancer drug that blocks cell growth by interfering with DNA, the genetic material in cells. Also called an anticancer antibiotic or antitumor antibiotic.

antineoplaston A substance isolated from normal human blood and urine that is being tested as a type of treatment for some tumors and AIDS.

antioxidant A substance that protects cells from the damage caused by free radicals (unstable molecules made by the process of oxidation during normal metabolism). Free radicals may play a part in cancer, heart disease, stroke and other diseases of aging. Antioxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamins A, C, and E and other natural and manufactured substances.

antiparasitic A drug used to treat infections caused by bacteria and parasites. It is also used in the treatment of some cancers.

antiretroviral therapy Treatment with drugs that inhibit the ability of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or other types of retroviruses to multiply in the body.

antisense c-fos Synthetic genetic material that may slow or stop the growth of cancer cells.

antithymocyte globulin A protein used to reduce the risk of or to treat graft-versus-host disease.

antituberculosis Describes a drug or effect that works against tuberculosis (a contagious bacterial infection that usually affects the lungs).

antitumor Having to do with stopping abnormal cell growth.

antitumor antibiotic A type of anticancer drug that blocks cell growth by interfering with DNA, the genetic material in cells. Also called an anticancer antibiotic or antineoplastic antibiotic.

antiviral A drug used to treat infections caused by viruses.

anxiolytic A drug used in the treatment of anxiety and muscle spasms.

aorta The largest artery in the body. It carries oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to vessels that reach the rest of the body.

aortocoronary bypass Surgery in which a healthy blood vessel taken from another part of the body is used to make a new path for blood around a blocked artery leading to the heart. This restores the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the heart. Also called coronary artery bypass and CAB.

APC Antigen-presenting cell. A cell that shows an antigen on its surface to other cells of the immune system. This is an important part of an immune response. Also called antigen-presenting cell.

APC vaccine A vaccine made of antigens and antigen-presenting cells (APCs). Also called antigen-presenting cell vaccine.

APC8015 Immune system cells that are collected from a patient with prostate cancer and treated in the laboratory with a molecule found on prostate cells. The treated cells are being studied for their ability to stimulate the immune system to kill prostate cancer cells.

apheresis A procedure in which blood is collected, part of the blood such as platelets or white blood cells is taken out, and the rest of the blood is returned to the donor. Also called pheresis.

APL Acute promyelocytic leukemia. An aggressive (fast-growing) type of acute myeloid leukemia in which there are too many immature blood-forming cells in the blood and bone marrow. It is usually marked by an exchange of parts of chromosomes 15 and 17. Also called acute promyelocytic leukemia and promyelocytic leukemia.

aplastic anemia A condition in which the bone marrow is unable to produce blood cells.

aplidine A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is obtained from a marine organism.

apocrine gland A type of gland that is found in the skin, breast, eyelid and ear. Apocrine glands in the breast secrete fat droplets into breast milk and those in the ear help form earwax. Apocrine glands in the skin and eyelid are sweat glands. Most apocrine glands in the skin are in the armpits, the groin and the area around the nipples of the breast. Apocrine glands in the skin are scent glands, and their secretions usually have an odor. Another type of gland (eccrine gland or simple sweat gland) produces most sweat.

apolizumab A type of monoclonal antibody that is being studied as a treatment for hematologic (blood) cancers. Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-produced substances that can locate and bind to cancer cells.

apoptosis A type of cell death in which a series of molecular steps in a cell leads to its death. This is the body’s normal way of getting rid of unneeded or abnormal cells. The process of apoptosis may be blocked in cancer cells. Also called programmed cell death.

aprepitant A drug used to prevent and control the nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. It is used together with other anti-vomiting medicines. It belongs to the family of drugs called antiemetic agents. Also called Emend.

aqueous Having to do with water.

arctigenin A substance found in certain plants, including burdock. It has shown antiviral and anticancer effects. Arctigenin belongs to a group of substances called lignans.

arctiin A substance found in certain plants, including burdock. It has shown anticancer effects. Arctiin belongs to a group of substances called lignans.

arginine butyrate A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer.

Aromasin A drug used to treat advanced breast cancer and to prevent recurrent breast cancer in postmenopausal women who have already been treated with tamoxifen. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Aromasin causes a decrease in the amount of estrogen made by the body. It belongs to the family of drugs called aromatase inhibitors. Also called exemestane.

aromatase inhibitor A drug that prevents the formation of estradiol, a female hormone, by interfering with an aromatase enzyme. Aromatase inhibitors are used as a type of hormone therapy for postmenopausal women who have hormone-dependent breast cancer.

aromatherapy A type of complementary and alternative medicine that uses plant oils that give off strong pleasant aromas (smells) to promote relaxation, a sense of well-being and healing.

aromatherapy massage A type of complementary and alternative medicine that uses rubbing and kneading of the skin with plant oils that give off strong, pleasant aromas (smells) to promote relaxation, a sense of well-being and healing.

aromatic Having an odor, which often is pleasant or spicy.

arousal The state of being alert and ready to respond, or waking from sleep.

Arranon A drug used to treat certain types of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) and T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma (T-LBL). It belongs to the family of drugs called antimetabolites. Also called nelarabine and 506U78.

arrhenoblastoma A rare type of ovarian tumor in which the tumor cells secrete a male sex hormone. This may cause virilization (the appearance of male physical characteristics in females). Also called androblastoma and Sertoli-Leydig cell tumor of the ovary.

arsenic A poisonous chemical used to kill weeds and pests. Also used in cancer therapy.

arsenic trioxide A drug used to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) that has not gotten better or that has come back after treatment with other anticancer drugs. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Also called Trisenox.

arterial embolization The blocking of an artery by a clot of foreign material. This can be done as treatment to block the flow of blood to a tumor.

arteriogram An X-ray of arteries; the person receives an injection of a dye that outlines the vessels on an x-ray.

arteriography A procedure to X-ray arteries. The arteries can be seen because of an injection of a dye that outlines the vessels on an X-ray.

artery A blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to tissues and organs in the body.

arthralgia Joint pain.

arthritis A disease that causes inflammation and pain in the joints.

artificial pacemaker An electronic device that is implanted in the body to monitor heart rate and rhythm. It gives the heart electrical stimulation when it does not beat normally. An artificial pacemaker runs on batteries and has long, thin wires that connect it to the heart. Also called pacemaker and cardiac pacemaker.

asbestos A natural material that is made of tiny fibers. Asbestos can cause several serious diseases, including cancer.

ascites Abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen that may cause swelling. In late-stage cancer, tumor cells may be found in the fluid in the abdomen. Ascites also occurs in patients with liver disease.

ascorbic acid A key nutrient that the body needs to fight infection, heal wounds and keep tissues healthy, including the blood vessels, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bones, muscle, skin, teeth and gums. It is an antioxidant that helps prevent tissue damage caused by free radicals. The body does not make or store ascorbic acid, so it must be taken in every day. It is found in many fruits and vegetables, especially green peppers, citrus, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, leafy greens, potatoes and cantaloupe. Also called vitamin C.

asparaginase An enzyme used in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called antineoplastics.

aspartate transaminase An enzyme found in the liver, heart, and other tissues. A high level of aspartate transaminase released into the blood may be a sign of liver or heart damage, cancer or other diseases. Also called serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase or SGOT.

aspergillosis An infectious fungal disease that occurs most often in the skin, ears, nasal sinuses and lungs of people with suppressed immune systems.

Aspergillus A family of fungi commonly found in soil. Certain types may cause disease, especially in people who have suppressed immune systems.

aspirate Fluid withdrawn from a lump (often a cyst) or a nipple.

aspiration Removal of fluid or tissue through a needle. Also, the accidental breathing in of food or fluid into the lungs.

aspirin A drug that reduces pain, fever, inflammation, and blood clotting. Aspirin belongs to the family of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents. It is also being studied in cancer prevention.

assay A laboratory test to find and measure the amount of a specific substance.

assessment In healthcare, a process used to learn about a patient’s condition. This may include a complete medical history, medical tests, a physical exam, a test of learning skills, tests to find out if the patient is able to carry out the tasks of daily living, a mental health evaluation and a review of social support and community resources available to the patient.

assistive device A tool that helps a person with a disability to do a certain task. Examples are a cane, wheelchair, scooter, walker, hearing aid or special bed.

assistive technology Any device or technology that helps a disabled person. Examples are special grips for holding utensils, computer screen monitors to help a person with low vision read more easily, computers controlled by talking, telephones that make the sound louder and lifters to help a person rise out of a chair.

asthenia Weakness; lack of energy and strength.

astrocyte A type of cell found in the brain and spinal cord. An astrocyte is a small, star-shaped glial cell (a cell that surrounds and supports nerve cells).

astrocytoma A tumor that begins in the brain or spinal cord in small, star-shaped cells called astrocytes.

asymmetry Lack or absence of balanced proportions between parts of a thing.

asymptomatic Having no signs or symptoms of disease.

atamestane A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. Atamestane blocks the production of the hormone estrogen in the body. It belongs to the family of drugs called antiestrogens.

ataxia Loss of muscle coordination.

ataxia-telangiectasia A rare, inherited, progressive, degenerative disease of childhood that causes loss of muscle control, a weakened immune system and an increased risk of cancer.

ataxic gait Awkward, uncoordinated walking.

atelectasis Failure of the lung to expand (inflate) completely. This may be caused by a blocked airway, a tumor, general anesthesia, pneumonia or other lung infections, lung disease or long-term bedrest with shallow breathing. Sometimes called a collapsed lung.

athymic nude mouse A type of laboratory mouse that is hairless, lacks a normal thymus gland, and has a defective immune system because of a genetic mutation. Athymic nude mice are often used in cancer research because they do not reject tumor cells, from mice or other species.

atiprimod A substance being studied in the treatment of certain multiple myelomas and other advanced cancers. Atiprimod may block the growth of tumors and the growth of blood vessels from surrounding tissue to the tumor. Atiprimod is a type of signal transduction inhibitor. Also called azaspirane and SK&F106615.

ATLL Adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma. An aggressive (fast-growing) type of T-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma caused by the human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). It is marked by bone and skin lesions, high calcium levels and enlarged lymph nodes, spleen and liver. Also called adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma.

atorvastatin A drug used to treat high cholesterol. It is also being studied in the prevention of colon cancer and in the treatment of some types of cancer and other conditions. Atorvastatin is a type of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor or statin. Also called atorvastatin calcium and Lipitor.

atorvastatin calcium A drug used to treat high cholesterol. It is also being studied in the prevention of colon cancer and in the treatment of some types of cancer and other conditions. Atorvastatin calcium is a type of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor or statin. Also called atorvastatin and Lipitor.

ATP Adenosine triphosphate. A substance present in all living cells that provides energy for many metabolic processes and is involved in making RNA. ATP made in the laboratory is being studied in patients with advanced solid tumors to see if it can decrease weight loss and improve muscle strength. Also called adenosine triphosphate.

ATRA All-trans retinoic acid. A form of vitamin A that is made by the body, and can also be made in the laboratory. It is used to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia, usually together with other drugs, and to treat acne. It is being studied in the treatment and prevention of other types of cancer. Also called all-trans retinoic acid, tretinoin, retinoic acid and vitamin A acid.

atrasentan A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called endothelin-1 protein receptor antagonists.

attenuated Weakened or thinned. Attenuated strains of disease-causing bacteria and viruses are often used as vaccines. The weakened strains are used as vaccines because they stimulate a protective immune response while causing no disease or only mild disease in the person receiving the vaccine.

atypical hyperplasia A benign (noncancerous) condition in which cells look abnormal under a microscope and are increased in number.

atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor ATT/RHT or AT/RT. An aggressive cancer of the central nervous system, kidney or liver that occurs in very young children.

augmerosen A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It may kill cancer cells by blocking the production of a protein that makes cancer cells live longer and by making them more sensitive to anticancer drugs. It belongs to the family of drugs called antisense oligodeoxyribonucleotides. Also called oblimersen, Genasense and bcl-2 antisense oligodeoxynucleotide G3139.

auricular Having to do with the ear.

Aurimmune A substance being studied in the treatment of some types of cancer. Aurimmune is made in the laboratory by binding a cancer-killing protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) to the surface of very tiny particles of gold. These TNF-gold particles may kill tumor cells without harming healthy tissue. Also called TNF-bound colloidal gold and colloidal gold-bound tumor necrosis factor.

autoclave-resistant factor A substance found in soybeans that may slow down or stop the spread of cancer. This substance does not break down in an autoclave (a device that uses high-pressure steam to kill microorganisms and clean medical equipment).

autoimmune disease A condition in which the body recognizes its own tissues as foreign and directs an immune response against them.

autoimmune hemolytic anemia A condition in which the body’s immune system stops red blood cells from forming or causes them to clump together. Autoimmune hemolytic anemia can occur in patients who have chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Also called immune complex hemolytic anemia and immunohemolytic anemia.

autologous Taken from an individual's own tissues, cells or DNA.

autologous bone marrow In transplantation, refers to a person's own bone marrow. Bone marrow is the soft, sponge-like tissue in the center of most large bones that produces white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.

autologous bone marrow transplantation A procedure in which bone marrow is removed from a person, stored and then given back to the person after intensive treatment.

autologous lymphocyte In transplantation, refers to a person’s own white blood cells. Lymphocytes have a number of roles in the immune system, including the production of antibodies and other substances that fight infection and disease.

autologous stem cell transplantation A procedure in which blood-forming stem cells (cells from which all blood cells develop) are removed, stored, and later given back to the same person.

autologous tumor cell A cancer cell from an individual's own tumor.

autonomic nervous system ANS. The part of the nervous system that controls muscles of internal organs (such as the heart, blood vessels, lungs, stomach and intestines) and glands (such as salivary glands and sweat glands). One part of the ANS helps the body rest, relax and digest food and another part helps a person fight or take flight in an emergency. Also called involuntary nervous system and ANS.

Avastin A monoclonal antibody used in the treatment of colorectal cancer that has spread. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Avastin binds to the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and may stop the growth of new blood vessels from surrounding tissue to a solid tumor. Also called bevacizumab.

Avelox A drug that is used to treat bacterial infections. It belongs to the family of drugs called fluoroquinolones. Also called moxifloxacin or moxifloxacin hydrochloride.

Avita A topical preparation of tretinoin that is used to treat acne. Tretinoin is a form of vitamin A.

Avodart A drug used to treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland. It is being studied in the treatment of male hair loss and prostate cancer. Avodart blocks enzymes the body needs to make male sex hormones. It is a type of 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. Also called dutasteride and GG745.

avoidance The act of staying away from people, places and thoughts that may cause anxiety, pain or unpleasant feelings. Some types of cancer-related avoidance include refusing to accept a cancer diagnosis or get treatment, and using alcohol or other drugs to forget about having cancer.

axilla The underarm or armpit.

axillary Pertaining to the armpit area, including the lymph nodes that are located there.

axillary dissection Surgery to remove lymph nodes found in the armpit region. Also called axillary lymph node dissection.

axillary lymph node A lymph node in the armpit region that drains lymph channels from the breast.

axillary lymph node dissection Surgery to remove lymph nodes found in the armpit region. Also called axillary dissection.

azacitidine A drug that is used to treat myelodysplastic syndromes and is being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called antimetabolites. Also called Vidaza and Mylosar.

azaspirane A substance being studied in the treatment of certain multiple myelomas and other advanced cancers. Azaspirane may block the growth of tumors and the growth of blood vessels from surrounding tissue to the tumor. Azaspirane is a type of signal transduction inhibitor. Also called atiprimod and SK&F106615.

azoxymethane A substance that is used in cancer research to cause colon tumors in laboratory animals. This is done to test new diets, drugs and procedures for use in cancer prevention and treatment.

AZQ Diaziquone. An anticancer drug that is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and kill cancer cells in the central nervous system. Also called diaziquone.

AZT A drug that inhibits the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS. Also called zidovudine.

Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center
Higley Road and US 60
2946 E. Banner Gateway Drive
Gilbert, AZ 85234
(480) 256-6444
(855) 256-6444

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