Cancer Education at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center  

Glossary of Cancer Terms - B

 

B cell A white blood cell that comes from bone marrow. As part of the immune system, B cells make antibodies and help fight infections. Also called B lymphocyte.

B lymphocyte A white blood cell that comes from bone marrow. As part of the immune system, B lymphocytes make antibodies and help fight infections. Also called B cell.

B-cell lymphoma A type of cancer that forms in B cells (a type of immune system cell). B-cell lymphomas usually occur in adults and may be either indolent (slow-growing) or aggressive (fast-growing). There are many different types of B-cell lymphomas, and prognosis and treatment depend on the type and stage of cancer.

B3 antigen A protein found on some tumor cells.

B43-PAP immunotoxin A toxic substance linked to an antibody that attaches to tumor cells and kills them.

B7-1 A molecule that helps control immune responses in the body. B7-1 is involved in stimulating T-cells.

bacillus Calmette-Guérin BCG. A type of bacteria used in cancer treatment to stimulate the immune system. It is also used to vaccinate against tuberculosis. Also called BCG.

bacterial toxin A toxic substance, made by bacteria, that can be modified to kill specific tumor cells without harming normal cells.

Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome BRRS. An inherited disorder that causes excessive growth before and after birth, and/or benign tumor-like growths (hamartomas) below the surface of the skin.

barbiturate A drug used to treat insomnia, seizures and convulsions, and to relieve anxiety and tension before surgery. It belongs to the family of drugs called central nervous system (CNS) depressants.

barium enema A procedure in which a liquid with barium in it is put into the rectum and colon by way of the anus. Barium is a silver-white metallic compound that helps to show the image of the lower gastrointestinal tract on an x-ray.

barium solution A liquid containing barium sulfate that is used in X-rays to highlight parts of the digestive system.

barium swallow A series of X-rays of the esophagus. The X-ray pictures are taken after the person drinks a solution that contains barium. The barium coats and outlines the esophagus on the X-ray. Also called esophagram and upper GI series.

Barrett's esophagus A condition in which the cells lining the lower part of the esophagus have changed or been replaced with abnormal cells that could lead to cancer of the esophagus. The backing up of stomach contents (reflux) may irritate the esophagus and, over time, cause Barrett's esophagus.

basal cell A small, round cell found in the lower part (or base) of the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin.

basal cell carcinoma A type of skin cancer that arises from the basal cells, small round cells found in the lower part (or base) of the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin.

basal cell nevus syndrome A genetic condition that causes unusual facial features and disorders of the skin, bones, nervous system, eyes and endocrine glands. People with this syndrome have a higher risk of basal cell carcinoma. Also called Gorlin syndrome and nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome.

baseline An initial measurement that is taken at an early time point to represent a beginning condition, and is used for comparison over time to look for changes. For example, the size of a tumor will be measured before treatment (baseline) and then afterwards to see if the treatment had an effect.

basophil A type of white blood cell. Basophils are granulocytes.

batimastat An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors. Batimastat is a matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor.

BAY 12-9566 An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors.

BBBD Blood-brain barrier disruption. The use of drugs to create openings between cells in the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier is a protective network of blood vessels and tissue that protects the brain from harmful substances, but can also prevent anticancer drugs from reaching the brain. Once the barrier is opened, anticancer drugs may be infused into an artery that goes to the brain, in order to treat brain tumors. Also called blood-brain barrier disruption.

BBIC Bowman-Birk inhibitor concentrate. A substance being studied in the prevention of cancer. BBIC is made from soybeans, and is a type of serine proteinase inhibitor. Also called Bowman-Birk inhibitor concentrate.

BCG Bacillus Calmette-Guérin. A type of bacteria used in cancer treatment to stimulate the immune system. It is also used to vaccinate against tuberculosis. Also called bacillus Calmette-Guérin.

BCG solution A form of biological therapy for superficial bladder cancer. A catheter is used to place the BCG solution into the bladder. The solution contains live, weakened bacteria (bacillus Calmette-Guérin) that activate the immune system. The BCG solution used for bladder cancer is not the same thing as BCG vaccine, a vaccine for tuberculosis.

Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome A rare, overgrowth disorder in which babies are large at birth and may develop low blood sugar. Other common symptoms are a large tongue, large internal organs and defects of the abdominal wall near the navel. Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome increases the risk of developing certain cancers, especially Wilms’ tumor.

beclomethasone A drug being studied in the treatment of graft-versus-host disease. It belongs to a family of drugs called corticosteroids.

Bellini duct carcinoma BDC. A rare type of kidney cancer that grows and spreads quickly. It begins in the duct of Bellini in the kidney.

Bence Jones protein A small protein made by plasma cells (white blood cells that produce antibodies). It is found in the urine of most people with multiple myeloma (cancer that begins in plasma cells).

bendamustine A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called alkylating agents. Also called SDX-105.

benign Not cancerous. Benign tumors may grow larger but do not spread to other parts of the body.

benign breast disease A common condition marked by benign (noncancerous) changes in breast tissue. These changes may include irregular lumps or cysts, breast discomfort, sensitive nipples and itching. These symptoms may change throughout the menstrual cycle and usually stop after menopause. Also called fibrocystic breast disease, fibrocystic breast changes and mammary dysplasia.

benign proliferative breast disease A group of noncancerous conditions that may increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Examples include ductal hyperplasia, lobular hyperplasia and papillomas.

benign prostatic hyperplasia BPH. A benign (noncancerous) condition in which an overgrowth of prostate tissue pushes against the urethra and the bladder, blocking the flow of urine. Also called BPH and benign prostatic hypertrophy.

benign prostatic hypertrophy BPH. A benign (noncancerous) condition in which an overgrowth of prostate tissue pushes against the urethra and the bladder, blocking the flow of urine. Also called BPH and benign prostatic hyperplasia.

benign tumor A noncancerous growth that does not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body.

benzaldehyde A colorless oily liquid used as a flavoring agent and to make dyes, perfumes and pharmaceuticals. Benzaldehyde is chemically related to benzene.

benzene A chemical that is used widely by the chemical industry, and is also found in tobacco smoke, vehicle emissions and gasoline fumes. Exposure to benzene may increase the risk of developing leukemia.

benzoylphenylurea BPU. A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of antitubulin agent. Also called BPU.

benzydamine A substance that is being studied as a mouth rinse treatment for oral mucositis (painful mouth sores) caused by cancer therapy. It belongs to the family of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).

bereavement A state of sadness, grief and mourning after the loss of a loved one.

Beriplast P A substance used in surgical wound healing to cause a blood clot to form. It consists of blood-clotting factors found naturally in human blood.

best practice In medicine, treatment that experts agree is appropriate, accepted and widely used. Health care providers are obligated to provide patients with the best practice. Also called standard therapy or standard of care.

beta alethine A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to a family of chemicals called disulfides.

beta carotene A substance found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables and in dark green, leafy vegetables. The body can make vitamin A from beta carotene. Beta carotene is being studied in the prevention of some types of cancer. It is a type of antioxidant.

beta hemolytic streptococcus group B A type of bacteria often found in the vagina. It can cause systemic infections in people with suppressed immune systems.

beta-2-microglobulin A small protein normally found on the surface of many cells, including lymphocytes, and in small amounts in the blood and urine. An increased amount in the blood or urine may be a sign of certain diseases, including some types of cancer, such as multiple myeloma or lymphoma.

beta-endorphin A substance produced in the brain, especially in the pituitary gland, that blocks the sensation of pain. It is produced in response to pain, exercise and other forms of stress. It belongs to a group of chemicals called polypeptide hormones.

beta-glucan A type of polysaccharide (string of sugar molecules) obtained from several types of mushrooms. It is being studied as a treatment for cancer and as an immune system stimulant.

beta-human chorionic gonadotropin ß-hCG. A hormone normally found in the blood and urine during pregnancy. It may also be produced by some tumor cells. An increased level of ß-hCG may be a sign of cancer of the testis, uterus, ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas or lung. ß-hCG may also be produced in response to certain conditions that are not cancer. ß-hCG is being studied in the treatment of Kaposi’s sarcoma.

bevacizumab 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. Bevacizumab 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 Avastin.

bexarotene A drug used to treat skin problems caused by cutaneous T-cell lymphoma that have not gotten better after other treatment. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Bexarotene is a type of retinoid. Also called LGD1069 and Targretin.

Bexxar regimen A combination of monoclonal antibodies used to treat certain types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The monoclonal antibody tositumomab is given with iodine I 131 tositumomab (a form of tositumomab that has been chemically changed by adding radioactive iodine). Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-produced substances that can locate and bind to cancer cells.

BI-RADS Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System. A method used by radiologists to interpret and report in a standardized manner the results of mammography, ultrasound and MRI used in breast cancer screening and diagnosis. Also called Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System.

Biafine cream A topical preparation to reduce the risk of, and treat skin reactions to, radiation therapy.

bias In a clinical trial, a flaw in the study design or method of collecting or interpreting information. Biases can lead to incorrect conclusions about what the study or trial showed.

bicalutamide An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called antiandrogens.

bilateral Affecting both the right and left sides of the body.

bilateral cancer Cancer that occurs in both paired organs, such as both breasts or both ovaries.

bilateral nephrectomy Surgery to remove both kidneys.

bilateral prophylactic mastectomy Surgery to remove both breasts in order to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.

bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy Surgery to remove both ovaries and both fallopian tubes.

bile A fluid made by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Bile is excreted into the small intestine, where it helps digest fat.

bile duct A tube through which bile passes in and out of the liver.

biliary Having to do with the liver, bile ducts and/or gallbladder.

bilirubin Substance formed when red blood cells are broken down. Bilirubin is part of the bile, which is made in the liver and is stored in the gallbladder. The abnormal buildup of bilirubin causes jaundice.

binding agent A substance that makes a loose mixture stick together. For example, binding agents can be used to make solid pills from loose powders.

bioavailable The ability of a drug or other substance to be absorbed and used by the body. Orally bioavailable means that a drug or other substance that is taken by mouth can be absorbed and used by the body.

biochanin A An isoflavone found in soy products. Soy isoflavones are being studied to see if they help prevent cancer.

biochemical reactions In living cells, chemical reactions that help sustain life and allow cells to grow.

biofeedback A method of learning to voluntarily control certain body functions such as heartbeat, blood pressure and muscle tension with the help of a special machine. This method can help control pain.

bioinformatics The science of using computers, databases and math to organize and analyze large amounts of biological, medical and health information. Information may come from many sources, including patient statistics, tissue specimens, genetics research and clinical trials.

biologic agent A substance that is made from a living organism or its products and is used in the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of cancer and other diseases. Biologic agents include antibodies, interleukins and vaccines. Also called biological agent or biological drug.

biological Pertaining to biology or to life and living things. In medicine, refers to a substance made from a living organism or its products. Biologicals may be used to prevent, diagnose, treat or relieve of symptoms of a disease. For example, antibodies, interleukins and vaccines are biologicals. Biological also refers to parents and children who are related by blood.

biological agent A substance that is made from a living organism or its products and is used in the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of cancer and other diseases. Biological agents include antibodies, interleukins and vaccines. Also called biologic agent or biological drug.

biological drug A substance that is made from a living organism or its products and is used in the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of cancer and other diseases. Biological drugs include antibodies, interleukins and vaccines. Also called biologic agent or biological agent.

biological response modifier therapy BRM therapy. Treatment to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight cancer, infections, and other diseases. Also used to lessen certain side effects that may be caused by cancer treatment. Also called BRM therapy, biological therapy, biotherapy and immunotherapy.

biological therapy Treatment to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight cancer, infections, and other diseases. Also used to lessen certain side effects that may be caused by some cancer treatments. Also called immunotherapy, biotherapy, biological response modifier therapy and BRM therapy.

biomarker A substance sometimes found in the blood, other body fluids or tissues. A high level of biomarker may mean that a certain type of cancer is in the body. Examples of biomarkers include CA 125 (ovarian cancer), CA 15-3 (breast cancer), CEA (ovarian, lung, breast, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract cancers) and PSA (prostate cancer). Also called tumor marker.

Biomed 101 A substance that is being studied for its ability to decrease the side effects of interleukin-2 (IL-2).

biomedicine 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 allopathic medicine.

biometrics The science of collecting and analyzing biologic or health data using statistical methods. Biometrics may be used to help learn the possible causes of a cancer or how often a cancer occurs in a certain group of people. Also called biostatistics and biometry.

biometry The science of collecting and analyzing biologic or health data using statistical methods. Biometry may be used to help learn the possible causes of a cancer or how often a cancer occurs in a certain group of people. Also called biostatistics and biometrics.

biopsy The removal of cells or tissues for examination by a pathologist. The pathologist may study the tissue under a microscope or perform other tests on the cells or tissue. When only a sample of tissue is removed, the procedure is called an incisional biopsy. When an entire lump or suspicious area is removed, the procedure is called an excisional biopsy. When a sample of tissue or fluid is removed with a needle, the procedure is called a needle biopsy, core biopsy or fine-needle aspiration.

biopsy specimen Tissue removed from the body and examined under a microscope to determine whether disease is present.

BioResponse-DIM A substance being studied in the treatment of prostate cancer and in the prevention of cervical cancer. BioResponse-DIM is found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. It is a type of plant indole. Also called diindolylmethane and DIM.

biostatistics The science of collecting and analyzing biologic or health data using statistical methods. Biostatistics may be used to help learn the possible causes of a cancer or how often a cancer occurs in a certain group of people. Also called biometry and biometrics.

biotherapy Treatment to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight cancer, infections and other diseases. Also used to lessen certain side effects that may be caused by cancer treatment. Also called biological therapy, immunotherapy, biological response modifier therapy and BRM therapy.

Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome An inherited condition in which benign tumors develop in hair follicles on the head, chest, back and arms. People who have this disorder may be at increased risk of developing colon or kidney cancer.

bispecific antibody An antibody developed in the laboratory to recognize more than one protein on the surface of different cells. Examples include bispecific antibodies 2B1, 520C9xH22, mDX-H210 and MDX447.

bispecific monoclonal antibody A monoclonal antibody that binds two different types of antigen. Bispecific monoclonal antibodies do not occur naturally; they must be made in the laboratory.

bisphosphonate A type of drug used to treat osteoporosis and the bone pain caused by some types of cancer. Also called diphosphonate.

bizelesin An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called alkylating agents. It is also an antitumor antibiotic.

BL22 immunotoxin A bacterial toxic substance linked to an antibody that attaches to cancer cells and kills them. It belongs to the family of drugs called bacterial immunotoxins.

black cohosh Cimicifuga racemosa. An eastern North American perennial herb. A substance obtained from the root of the plant has been used in some cultures to treat a number of medical problems. It is being studied in the treatment of hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. The plant is also called black snakeroot, rattlesnake root, bugwort and bugbane.

black snakeroot Cimicifuga racemosa. An eastern North American perennial herb. A substance obtained from the root of the plant has been used in some cultures to treat a number of medical problems. It is being studied in the treatment of hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. The plant is also called black cohosh, rattlesnake root, bugwort and bugbane.

bladder The organ that stores urine.

bladder cancer Cancer that forms in tissues of the bladder (the organ that stores urine). Most bladder cancers are transitional cell carcinomas (cancer that begins in cells that normally make up the inner lining of the bladder). Other types include squamous cell carcinoma (cancer that begins in thin, flat cells) and adenocarcinoma (cancer that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids). The cells that form squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma develop in the inner lining of the bladder as a result of chronic irritation and inflammation.

blast An immature blood cell.

blast crisis A phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia in which tiredness, fever and an enlarged spleen occur during the blastic phase when more than 30% of the cells in the blood or bone marrow are blast cells (immature blood cells).

blastic phase chronic myelogenous leukemia A phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia in which more than 30% of the cells in the blood or bone marrow are blast cells (immature blood cells). When tiredness, fever and an enlarged spleen occur during the blastic phase, it is called blast crisis.

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

blessed thistle Cnicus benedictus. A plant whose leaves, stems and flowers have been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems. Blessed thistle may have anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects. Also called St. Benedict's thistle, cardin, holy thistle and spotted thistle.

blinded study A type of study in which the patients (single-blinded) or the patients and their doctors (double-blinded) do not know which drug or treatment is being given. The opposite of a blinded study is an open label study.

blood A tissue with red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other substances suspended in fluid called plasma. Blood takes oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, and carries away wastes.

blood cell count A test to check the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in a sample of blood. Also called complete blood count and CBC.

blood chemistry study A procedure in which a sample of blood is examined to measure the amounts of certain substances made in the body. An abnormal amount of a substance can be a sign of disease in the organ or tissue that produces it.

blood poisoning Disease caused by the spread of bacteria and their toxins in the bloodstream. Also called septicemia and toxemia.

blood pressure The force of circulating blood on the walls of the arteries. Blood pressure is taken using two measurements: systolic (measured when the heart beats, when blood pressure is at its highest) and diastolic (measured between heart beats, when blood pressure is at its lowest). Blood pressure is written with the systolic blood pressure first, followed by the diastolic blood pressure (for example 120/80).

blood stasis In traditional Chinese medicine, a condition described as slowing or pooling of blood, which may cause pain or other symptoms.

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

blood transfusion The administration of blood or blood products into a blood vessel.

blood vessel A tube through which the blood circulates in the body. Blood vessels include a network of arteries, arterioles, capillaries, venules and veins.

blood-brain barrier A network of blood vessels with closely spaced cells that makes it difficult for potentially toxic substances (such as anticancer drugs) to penetrate the blood vessel walls and enter the brain.

blood-brain barrier disruption BBBD. The use of drugs to create openings between cells in the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier is a protective network of blood vessels and tissue that protects the brain from harmful substances, but can also prevent anticancer drugs from reaching the brain. Once the barrier is opened, anticancer drugs may be infused into an artery that goes to the brain, in order to treat brain tumors. Also called BBBD.

BMD Bone mineral density. A measure of the amount of calcium contained in a certain volume of bone. Calcium gives bones their strength and helps keep them from breaking. Bone density measurements may be used to diagnose osteoporosis, to see how well osteoporosis treatments are working and to figure out how likely the bones are to break. Also called bone mineral density, bone density and bone mass.

BMI Body mass index. A measure that relates body weight to height. BMI is sometimes used to measure total body fat and whether a person is a healthy weight. Excess body fat is linked to an increased risk of some diseases including heart disease and some cancers. Also called body mass index.

body image The way a person thinks about his or her body and how it looks to others.

body mass index BMI. A measure that relates body weight to height. BMI is sometimes used to measure total body fat and whether a person is a healthy weight. Excess body fat is linked to an increased risk of some diseases including heart disease and some cancers. Also called BMI.

bolus A single dose of drug usually injected into a blood vessel over a short period of time. Also called bolus infusion.

bolus infusion A single dose of drug usually injected into a blood vessel over a short period of time. Also called bolus.

bone cancer Primary bone cancer is cancer that forms in cells of the bone. Some types of primary bone cancer are osteosarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma, malignant fibrous histiocytoma and chondrosarcoma. Secondary bone cancer is cancer that spreads to the bone from another part of the body (such as the prostate, breast or lung).

bone density A measure of the amount of calcium contained in a certain volume of bone. Calcium gives bones their strength and helps keep them from breaking. Bone density measurements may be used to diagnose osteoporosis, to see how well osteoporosis treatments are working and to figure out how likely the bones are to break. Also called bone mineral density, BMD and bone mass.

bone marrow The soft, sponge-like tissue in the center of most bones. It produces white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.

bone marrow ablation The destruction of bone marrow using radiation or drugs.

bone marrow aspiration The removal of a small sample of bone marrow (usually from the hip) through a needle for examination under a microscope.

bone marrow biopsy The removal of a sample of tissue from the bone marrow with a needle for examination under a microscope.

bone marrow cancer Cancer that forms in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow (soft sponge-like tissue in the center of most bones). Bone marrow cancer includes leukemias, multiple myeloma and others.

bone marrow metastasis Cancer that has spread from the original (primary) tumor to the bone marrow.

bone marrow transplantation A procedure to replace bone marrow that has been destroyed by treatment with high doses of anticancer drugs or radiation. Transplantation may be autologous (an individual's own marrow saved before treatment), allogeneic (marrow donated by someone else) or syngeneic (marrow donated by an identical twin).

bone mass A measure of the amount of calcium contained in a certain volume of bone. Calcium gives bones their strength and helps keep them from breaking. Bone density measurements may be used to diagnose osteoporosis, to see how well osteoporosis treatments are working and to figure out how likely the bones are to break. Also called bone density, bone mineral density and BMD.

bone metastasis Cancer that has spread from the original (primary) tumor to the bone.

bone mineral density BMD. A measure of the amount of calcium contained in a certain volume of bone. Calcium gives bones their strength and helps keep them from breaking. Bone density measurements may be used to diagnose osteoporosis, to see how well osteoporosis treatments are working and to figure out how likely the bones are to break. Also called BMD, bone density and bone mass.

bone scan A technique to create images of bones on a computer screen or on film. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into a blood vessel and travels through the bloodstream; it collects in the bones and is detected by a scanner.

bone-seeking radioisotope A radioactive substance that is given through a vein, and collects in bone cells and in tumor cells that have spread to the bone. It kills cancer cells by giving off low-level radiation.

booster In medicine, refers to a vaccination given after a previous vaccination. A booster helps maintain or increase a protective immune response.

borderline personality disorder BPD. A serious mental illness marked by unstable moods and impulsive behavior. People with BPD have problems with relationships, family and work life, long-term planning and self-identity. Symptoms include intense bouts of anger, depression and anxiety that may lead to self-injury or suicide, drug or alcohol abuse, excessive spending, binge eating or risky sex. A person with BPD who is diagnosed with cancer may be at an increased risk of suicide. Also called BPD.

boron neutron capture therapy A type of radiation therapy. The person is given an intravenous infusion containing the element boron, which concentrates in the tumor cells. The person then receives radiation therapy with atomic particles called neutrons from a small research nuclear reactor. The radiation is absorbed by the boron, killing the tumor cells without harming normal cells.

boronophenylalanine-fructose complex BPA-F. A substance used in a type of radiation therapy called boron neutron capture therapy. BPA-F is injected into a vein, and becomes concentrated in tumor cells. The patient then receives radiation treatment with atomic particles called neutrons. The neutrons react with the boron in BPA-F, producing radioactive particles that kill the tumor cells without harming normal cells. Also called BPA-F.

bortezomib A drug used to treat multiple myeloma that has gotten worse during treatment with other anticancer drugs. It is also used to treat mantle cell lymphoma in patients who have already received at least one other type of treatment. Bortezomib is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. It is a type of proteasome inhibitor and dipeptidyl boronic acid. Also called Velcade and PS-341.

Boswellia serrata A tree that belongs to the incense tree family. The tree’s amber-colored resin is used in incense. The resin has anti-inflammatory effects and has been used to treat arthritis, asthma and ulcerative colitis. It is also being studied in the treatment of brain tumors. Also called frankincense tree.

botanical Having to do with, or derived from plants.

bowel The long, tube-shaped organ in the abdomen that completes the process of digestion. The bowel has two parts, the small bowel and the large bowel. Also called the intestine.

bowel function The way the intestines work in terms of how often there are bowel movements, the ability to control when to have a bowel movement, and whether the stools are hard and dry as in constipation or watery as in diarrhea.

Bowen's disease A skin disease marked by scaly or thickened patches on the skin and often caused by prolonged exposure to arsenic. The patches often occur on sun-exposed areas of the skin and in older, white men. These patches may become malignant (cancerous). Also called precancerous dermatosis or precancerous dermatitis.

Bowman-Birk inhibitor concentrate BBIC. A substance being studied in the prevention of cancer. BBIC is made from soybeans, and is a type of serine proteinase inhibitor. Also called BBIC.

BPA-F Boronophenylalanine-fructose complex. A substance used in a type of radiation therapy called boron neutron capture therapy. BPA-F is injected into a vein, and becomes concentrated in tumor cells. The patient then receives radiation treatment with atomic particles called neutrons. The neutrons react with the boron in BPA-F, producing radioactive particles that kill the tumor cells without harming normal cells. Also called boronophenylalanine-fructose complex.

BPD Borderline personality disorder. A serious mental illness marked by unstable moods and impulsive behavior. People with BPD have problems with relationships, family and work life, long-term planning, and self-identity. Symptoms include intense bouts of anger, depression and anxiety that may lead to self-injury or suicide, drug or alcohol abuse, excessive spending, binge eating or risky sex. A person with BPD who is diagnosed with cancer may be at an increased risk of suicide. Also called borderline personality disorder.

BPH Benign prostatic hypertrophy. A benign (noncancerous) condition in which an overgrowth of prostate tissue pushes against the urethra and the bladder, blocking the flow of urine. Also called benign prostatic hypertrophy and benign prostatic hyperplasia.

BPU Benzoylphenylurea. A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of antitubulin agent. Also called benzoylphenylurea.

brachial plexopathy A condition marked by numbness, tingling, pain, weakness or limited movement in the arm or hand. It is caused by an impairment of the brachial plexus, a network of nerves that affect the arm and hand.

brachial plexus A network of nerves that sends signals from the spine to the arm and hand.

brachytherapy A procedure in which radioactive material sealed in needles, seeds, wires or catheters is placed directly into or near a tumor. Also called internal radiation, implant radiation and interstitial radiation.

brain metastasis Cancer that has spread from the original (primary) tumor to the brain.

brain stem The part of the brain that is connected to the spinal cord.

brain stem glioma A tumor located in the part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord (the brain stem). It may grow rapidly or slowly, depending on the grade of the tumor.

brain stem tumor A tumor in the part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord (the brain stem).

brain tumor The growth of abnormal cells in the tissues of the brain. Brain tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

BRCA1 A gene on chromosome 17 that normally helps to suppress cell growth. A person who inherits an altered version of the BRCA1 gene has a higher risk of getting breast, ovarian or prostate cancer.

BRCA2 A gene on chromosome 13 that normally helps to suppress cell growth. A person who inherits an altered version of the BRCA2 gene has a higher risk of getting breast, ovarian or prostate cancer.

breakthrough pain Intense increases in pain that occur with rapid onset even when pain-control medication is being used. Breakthrough pain can occur spontaneously or in relation to a specific activity.

breast Glandular organ located on the chest. The breast is made up of connective tissue, fat and breast tissue that contains the glands that can make milk. Also called mammary gland.

breast cancer Cancer that forms in tissues of the breast, usually the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk). It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare.

breast cancer in situ Abnormal cells that are confined to the ducts or lobules in the breast. There are two forms, called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS).

breast density Describes the relative amount of different tissues present in the breast. A dense breast has less fat than glandular and connective tissue. Mammogram films of breasts with higher density are harder to read and interpret than those of less dense breasts.

breast duct endoscopy A method used to examine the lining of the breast ducts to look for abnormal tissue. A very thin, flexible, lighted tube attached to a camera is inserted through the nipple, and threaded into the breast ducts deep in the breast. Tissue and fluid samples may be removed during the procedure.

Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System BI-RADS. A method used by radiologists to interpret and report in a standardized manner the results of mammography, ultrasound and MRI used in breast cancer screening and diagnosis. Also called BI-RADS.

breast implant A silicone gel-filled or saline-filled sac placed under the chest muscle to restore breast shape.

breast reconstruction Surgery to rebuild the shape of the breast after a mastectomy.

breast self-exam An exam by a woman of her breasts to check for lumps or other changes.

breast-conserving surgery An operation to remove the breast cancer but not the breast itself. Types of breast-conserving surgery include lumpectomy (removal of the lump), quadrantectomy (removal of one quarter, or quadrant, of the breast) and segmental mastectomy (removal of the cancer as well as some of the breast tissue around the tumor and the lining over the chest muscles below the tumor). Also called breast-sparing surgery.

breast-sparing surgery An operation to remove the breast cancer but not the breast itself. Types of breast-sparing surgery include lumpectomy (removal of the lump), quadrantectomy (removal of one quarter, or quadrant, of the breast) and segmental mastectomy (removal of the cancer as well as some of the breast tissue around the tumor and the lining over the chest muscles below the tumor). Also called breast-conserving surgery.

Brief Pain Inventory A questionnaire used to measure pain.

brivudine A substance that is being studied in the treatment of infections caused by herpesvirus, including herpes-zoster (shingles). It belongs to the family of drugs called antivirals.

BRM therapy Biological response modifier therapy. Treatment to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight cancer, infections and other diseases. Also used to lessen certain side effects that may be caused by cancer treatment. Also called biological response modifier therapy, immunotherapy, biotherapy or biological therapy.

bromelain An enzyme found in pineapples that breaks down other proteins, such as collagen and muscle fiber, and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is used as a meat tenderizer in the food industry.

bronchi The large air passages that lead from the trachea (windpipe) to the lungs.

bronchial Having to do with the bronchi, which are the larger air passages of the lungs, including those that lead from the trachea (windpipe) to the lungs and those within the lungs.

bronchial adenoma Cancer that forms in tissues of the bronchi (large air passages in the lungs including those that lead to the lungs from the windpipe).

bronchiole A tiny branch of air tubes in the lungs.

bronchodilator A type of drug that causes small airways in the lungs to open up. Bronchodilators are inhaled and are used to treat breathing disorders, such as asthma or emphysema.

bronchoscope A thin, tube-like instrument used to examine the inside of the trachea, bronchi (air passages that lead to the lungs), and lungs. A bronchoscope has a light and a lens for viewing, and may have a tool to remove tissue.

bronchoscopy A procedure that uses a bronchoscope to examine the inside of the trachea, bronchi (air passages that lead to the lungs) and lungs. A bronchoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease. The bronchoscope is inserted through the nose or mouth. Bronchoscopy may be used to detect cancer or to perform some treatment procedures.

bronchus A large airway that leads from the trachea (windpipe) to a lung. The plural of bronchus is bronchi.

BRRS Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome. An inherited disorder that causes excessive growth before and after birth, and/or benign tumor-like growths (hamartomas) below the surface of the skin.

brostallicin A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called DNA intercalators.

broxuridine A drug that makes cancer cells more sensitive to radiation and is also used as a diagnostic agent to determine how fast cancer cells grow.

bryostatin 1 A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is obtained from a marine organism.

BSH Sodium borocaptate. A substance used in a type of radiation therapy called boron neutron capture therapy. BSH is injected into a vein and becomes concentrated in tumor cells. The patient then receives radiation treatment with atomic particles called neutrons. The neutrons react with the boron in BSH and make radioactive particles that kill the tumor cells without harming normal cells. Also called sodium borocaptate.

buccal mucosa The inner lining of the cheeks.

budesonide A drug used in the treatment of asthma and rhinitis. It is also being studied in the treatment of cancer. Budesonide belongs to the family of drugs called steroids.

bugbane Cimicifuga racemosa. An eastern North American perennial herb. A substance obtained from the root of the plant has been used in some cultures to treat a number of medical problems. It is being studied in the treatment of hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. The plant is also called black cohosh, black snakeroot, rattlesnake root and bugwort.

bugwort Cimicifuga racemosa. An eastern North American perennial herb. A substance obtained from the root of the plant has been used in some cultures to treat a number of medical problems. It is being studied in the treatment of hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. The plant is also called black cohosh, black snakeroot, rattlesnake root and bugbane.

bupropion A substance that is used to treat depression, and to help people quit smoking. It belongs to the family of drugs called antidepressants.

burdock Arctium lappa. A plant whose seeds and root have been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems. It may have antioxidant effects. Also called lappa and happy major.

Burkitt's leukemia A rare, fast-growing type of leukemia (blood cancer) in which too many white blood cells called B-lymphocytes form in the blood and bone marrow. It may start in the lymph nodes as Burkitt’s lymphoma and then spread to the blood and bone marrow, or it may start in the blood and bone marrow without involvement of the lymph nodes. Both Burkitt's leukemia and Burkitt’s lymphoma have been linked to infection with the Epstein-Barr virus.

Burkitt's lymphoma An aggressive (fast-growing) type of B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that occurs most often in children and young adults. The disease may affect the jaw, central nervous system, bowel, kidneys, ovaries or other organs. There are three main types of Burkitt’s lymphoma (sporadic, endemic and immunodeficiency related). Sporadic Burkitt’s lymphoma occurs throughout the world, and endemic Burkitt’s lymphoma occurs in Africa. Immunodeficiency-related Burkitt’s lymphoma is most often seen in AIDS patients.

burr hole A small opening in the skull made with a surgical drill.

bursitis Inflammation (swelling, pain and warmth) of a bursa. A bursa is a flat, fluid-filled sac found between a bone and a tendon or muscle. It forms a cushion to help the tendon or muscle slide smoothly over the bone. Bursitis may be caused by long-term overuse, trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, gout or infection. It usually affects the shoulder, knee, elbow, hip or foot.

buserelin An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called gonadotropin-releasing hormones. In prostate cancer therapy, buserelin blocks the production of testosterone in the testicles.

buspirone A drug that is used to treat certain anxiety disorders. It belongs to the family of drugs called antianxiety agents.

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

buthionine sulfoximine A drug that may help prevent resistance to some anticancer drugs.

bypass A surgical procedure in which the doctor creates a new pathway for the flow of body fluids.

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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