Cancer Education at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center  

Glossary of Cancer Terms - C

 

C cell A type of cell in the thyroid. C cells make calcitonin, a hormone that helps control the calcium level in the blood.

c-erbB-2 The gene that controls cell growth by making the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. Also called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 and HER2/neu.

c-kit receptor A protein on the surface of some cells that binds to stem cell factor (a substance that causes certain types of cells to grow). Altered forms of this receptor may be associated with some types of cancer.

CA 19-9 assay A test that measures the level of CA 19-9 in the blood. CA 19-9 is a tumor marker released into the bloodstream from both cancer cells and normal cells. Higher than normal amounts of CA 19-9 in the blood can be a sign of gallbladder or pancreatic cancer or other conditions.

CA-125 A substance sometimes found in an increased amount in the blood, other body fluids, or tissues and that may suggest the presence of some types of cancer.

CA-125 test A blood test that measures the level of CA-125, a substance found in blood, other body fluids and some tissues. Increased levels of CA-125 may be a sign of cancer.

CAB Coronary artery 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 aortocoronary bypass.

cachexia Loss of body weight and muscle mass, and weakness that may occur in patients with cancer, AIDS or other chronic diseases.

CAD Coronary artery disease. A disease in which there is a narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries (blood vessels that carry blood and oxygen to the heart). CAD is usually caused by atherosclerosis (a build up of fatty material and plaque inside the coronary arteries). The disease may cause chest pain, shortness of breath during exercise and heart attacks. The risk of CAD is increased by having a family history of CAD before age 50, older age, smoking tobacco, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, lack of exercise and obesity. Also called coronary artery disease and coronary heart disease.

Cadherin 1, type 1, E-cadherin (epithelial) CDH1. A gene that provides instructions for making a protein called epithelial cadherin or E-cadherin. Cadherins are a group of proteins on the surface of cells that help neighboring cells stick to one another (cell adhesion). These proteins bind cells together to form organized tissues.

cadmium A metallic element that occurs naturally in tiny amounts in air, water, soil, and food. It is a byproduct of zinc refining, and is used to make batteries, pigments, plastics, alloys and electroplate. It is also found in cigarette smoke. Exposure to high levels of cadmium may cause certain cancers and other health problems.

Caelyx A form of the anticancer drug doxorubicin that may have fewer side effects and work better than doxorubicin. It is being studied in the treatment of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma and other types of cancer. It is a type of anthracycline antitumor antibiotic. Also called liposomal doxorubicin, pegylated liposomal doxorubicin, doxorubicin hydrochloride pegylated liposomes and Doxil.

calcification Deposits of calcium in the tissues. Calcification in the breast can be seen on a mammogram, but cannot be detected by touch. There are two types of breast calcification, macrocalcification and microcalcification. Macrocalcifications are large deposits and are usually not related to cancer. Microcalcifications are specks of calcium that may be found in an area of rapidly dividing cells. Many microcalcifications clustered together may be a sign of cancer.

calcitonin A hormone formed by the C cells of the thyroid gland. It helps maintain a healthy level of calcium in the blood. When the calcium level is too high, calcitonin lowers it.

calcitriol The active form of vitamin D. Calcitriol is formed in the kidneys or made in the laboratory. It is used as a drug to increase calcium levels in the body in order to treat skeletal and tissue-related calcium deficiencies caused by kidney or thyroid disorders.

calcium carbonate A mineral taken primarily as a supplement to prevent osteoporosis. It is also being studied for cancer prevention.

calendula ointment A substance made from the flower of the marigold plant Calendula officinalis. Calendula-based skin products have been used to treat minor cuts, burns and skin irritation. The products that are available in the United States may not contain the same amount or mixture of ingredients and may not be effective. Another product, Calendula ointment, is being studied in France in the prevention of dermatitis in patients having radiation therapy for breast cancer. The ointment being studied is not available in the United States.

CAM Complementary and alternative medicine. Forms of treatment that are used in addition to (complementary) or instead of (alternative) standard treatments. These practices generally are not considered standard medical approaches. Standard treatments go through a long and careful research process to prove they are safe and effective, but less is known about most types of CAM. CAM may include dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, acupuncture, massage therapy, magnet therapy, spiritual healing and meditation. Also called complementary and alternative medicine.

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

camphor A substance that comes from the wood and bark of the camphor tree or is made in the laboratory. It has a very unique smell and taste and is used in commercial products (for example, mothballs). Camphor is used in topical anti-infective and anti-pruritic (anti-itching) agents.

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

camptothecin analog An anticancer drug related in structure to camptothecin, a topoisomerase inhibitor. One such drug is aminocamptothecin.

Cancell A liquid that has been promoted as a treatment for a wide range of diseases, including cancer. The ingredients thought to be in Cancell have been tested, and none of them has been shown to be effective in treating any form of cancer. Cancell is not available in the United States. Also called Entelev, Sheridan’s Formula, Jim’s Juice, Crocinic Acid, JS–114, JS–101, 126–F and Cantron.

cancer A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body. There are several main types of cancer. Carcinoma is cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs. Sarcoma is cancer that begins in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels or other connective or supportive tissue. Leukemia is cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow, and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the bloodstream. Lymphoma and multiple myeloma are cancers that begin in the cells of the immune system.

cancer cluster The occurrence of a larger-than-expected number of cases of cancer within a group of people in a geographic area over a period of time.

Cancer Information Service CIS. The Cancer Information Service is the National Cancer Institute's link to the public, interpreting and explaining research findings in a clear and understandable manner, and providing personalized responses to specific questions about cancer. Access the CIS by calling 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). Also called CIS.

cancer of the adrenal cortex 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 adrenocortical carcinoma.

cancer of unknown primary origin A case in which cancer cells are found in the body, but the place where the cells first started growing (the origin or primary site) cannot be determined. Also called carcinoma of unknown primary and CUP.

cancer vaccine A vaccine designed to prevent or treat cancer.

candidiasis A condition in which Candida albicans, a type of yeast, grows out of control in moist skin areas of the body. It is usually a result of a weakened immune system, but can be a side effect of chemotherapy or treatment with antibiotics. Thrush usually affects the mouth (oral thrush); however, rarely, it spreads throughout the entire body. Also called candidosis or thrush.

candidosis A condition in which Candida albicans, a type of yeast, grows out of control in moist skin areas of the body. It is usually a result of a weakened immune system, but can be a side effect of chemotherapy or treatment with antibiotics. Thrush usually affects the mouth (oral thrush); however, rarely, it spreads throughout the entire body. Also called candidiasis or thrush.

Cantron A liquid that has been promoted as a treatment for a wide range of diseases, including cancer. The ingredients thought to be in Cantron have been tested, and none of them has been shown to be effective in treating any form of cancer. Cantron is not available in the United States. Also called Entelev, Sheridan’s Formula, Jim’s Juice, Crocinic Acid, JS–114, JS–101, 126–F and Cancell.

CAP-1 Carcinoembryonic antigen peptide-1. A protein that can stimulate an immune response. Also called carcinoembryonic antigen peptide-1.

capecitabine A drug used to treat stage III colon cancer in patients who had surgery to remove the cancer. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Capecitabine belongs to the family of drugs called antimetabolites. Also called Xeloda.

capillary The smallest type of blood vessel. A capillary connects an arteriole (small artery) to a venule (small vein) to form a network of blood vessels in almost all parts of the body. The wall of a capillary is thin and leaky, and capillaries are involved in the exchange of fluids and gases between tissues and the blood.

capillary leak syndrome A condition in which fluid and proteins leak out of tiny blood vessels and flow into surrounding tissues, resulting in dangerously low blood pressure. Capillary leak syndrome may lead to multiple organ failure and shock.

capsaicin A component of certain plants, including cayenne and red pepper, used topically for peripheral nerve pain. Also being studied for controlling mucositis pain after chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

capsule In medicine, a sac of tissue and blood vessels that surrounds an organ, joint or tumor. A capsule is also a form for medicine that is taken by mouth. It usually has a shell made of gelatin with the medicine inside.

captopril A drug used to treat high blood pressure that is also being studied in the prevention of side effects caused by radiation therapy used in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called ACE inhibitors.

carbendazim An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called antifungal agents.

carbogen An inhalant of oxygen and carbon dioxide that increases the sensitivity of tumor cells to the effects of radiation therapy.

carbohydrate A sugar molecule. Carbohydrates can be small and simple (for example, glucose) or they can be large and complex (for example, polysaccharides such as starch, chitin or cellulose).

carbolic acid A very poisonous chemical substance made from tar and also found in some plants and essential oils (scented liquid taken from plants). Carbolic acid is used to make plastics, nylon, epoxy, medicines and to kill germs. Also called phenol.

carbon dioxide A colorless, odorless gas. It is a waste product made by the body. Carbon dioxide travels in the blood from the body’s tissues to the lungs. Breathing out clears carbon dioxide from the lungs.

carbon monoxide A poisonous gas that has no color or odor. It is given off by burning fuel (as in exhaust from cars or household heaters) and tobacco products. Carbon monoxide prevents red blood cells from carrying enough oxygen for cells and tissues to live.

carbon-11 acetate A radioactive form of carbon that is used in positron emission tomography (PET) scanning.

carboplatin An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called platinum compounds.

carboxyamidotriazole An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors.

carboxypeptidase-G2 A bacterial enzyme that is used to neutralize the toxic effects of methotrexate. It belongs to the family of drugs called chemoprotective agents.

carcinoembryonic antigen CEA. A substance that is sometimes found in an increased amount in the blood of people who have certain cancers, other diseases or who smoke. It is used as a tumor marker for colorectal cancer. Also called CEA.

carcinoembryonic antigen peptide-1 CAP-1. A protein that can stimulate an immune response to certain tumors. Also called CAP-1.

carcinogen Any substance that causes cancer.

carcinogenesis The process by which normal cells are transformed into cancer cells.

carcinoid A slow-growing type of tumor usually found in the gastrointestinal system (most often in the appendix), and sometimes in the lungs or other sites. Carcinoid tumors may spread to the liver or other sites in the body, and they may secrete substances such as serotonin or prostaglandins, causing carcinoid syndrome.

carcinoid syndrome A combination of symptoms caused by the release of serotonin and other substances from carcinoid tumors of the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms may include flushing of the face, flat angiomas (small collections of dilated blood vessels) of the skin, diarrhea, bronchial spasms, rapid pulse and sudden drops in blood pressure.

carcinoma Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs.

carcinoma in situ Cancer that involves only cells in the tissue in which it began and that has not spread to nearby tissues.

carcinoma of unknown primary CUP. A case in which cancer cells are found in the body, but the place where the cells first started growing (the origin or primary site) cannot be determined. Also called cancer of unknown primary origin and CUP.

carcinomatosis A condition in which cancer is spread widely throughout the body, or, in some cases, to a relatively large region of the body. Also called carcinosis.

carcinosarcoma A malignant tumor that is a mixture of carcinoma (cancer of epithelial tissue, which is skin and tissue that lines or covers the internal organs) and sarcoma (cancer of connective tissue, such as bone, cartilage and fat).

carcinosis A condition in which cancer is spread widely throughout the body, or, in some cases, to a relatively large region of the body. Also called carcinomatosis.

carcinostatic Pertaining to slowing or stopping the growth of cancer.

cardiac Having to do with the heart.

cardiac 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. A cardiac pacemaker runs on batteries and has long, thin wires that connect it to the heart. Also called pacemaker and artificial pacemaker.

cardiac sarcoma A rare cancer that develops in tissues of the heart. Also called heart cancer.

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

cardiopulmonary Having to do with the heart and lungs.

cardiotoxicity Toxicity that affects the heart.

cardiovascular Having to do with the heart and blood vessels.

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

carnitine A substance made in the muscles and liver, and also found in certain foods such as meat, poultry, fish and some dairy products. The body needs carnitine to make energy from fat.

carotenoid A substance found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables and in dark green, leafy vegetables. Carotenoids may reduce the risk of developing cancer.

carotid artery A major artery that carries blood from the heart to the head. There is a carotid artery on each side of the neck, and each one splits into two branches. The interior branch carries blood to the brain and eyes, and the exterior branch carries blood to the face, tongue and outside parts of the head.

carrier oil An oil with little or no scent that is used to dilute or “carry” essential oils (scented liquid taken from plants).

cartilage A tough, flexible tissue that lines joints and gives structure to the nose, ears, larynx and other parts of the body.

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

case report A detailed report of the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of an individual patient. Case reports also contain some demographic information about the patient (for example, age, gender, ethnic origin).

case series A group or series of case reports involving patients who were given similar treatment. Reports of case series usually contain detailed information about the individual patients. This includes demographic information (for example, age, gender, ethnic origin) and information on diagnosis, treatment, response to treatment, and follow-up after treatment.

case-control study A study that compares two groups of people: those with the disease or condition under study (cases) and a very similar group of people who do not have the disease or condition (controls). Researchers study the medical and lifestyle histories of the people in each group to learn what factors may be associated with the disease or condition. For example, one group may have been exposed to a particular substance that the other was not. Also called a retrospective study.

caspofungin acetate A drug used to prevent or treat infections caused by a fungus (a type of microorganism). It belongs to the family of drugs called antifungal agents.

Castleman's disease A rare disorder in which noncancerous growths develop in lymph node tissue.

castration Removal or destruction of the testicles or ovaries using radiation, surgery or drugs. Medical castration refers to the use of drugs to suppress the function of the ovaries or testicles.

CAT scan Computerized axial tomography scan. A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles; the pictures are created by a computer linked to an X-ray machine. Also called computerized axial tomography scan, computed tomography, CT scan and computerized tomography.

cataract A condition in which the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Symptoms include blurred, cloudy or double vision; sensitivity to light; and difficulty seeing at night. Without treatment, cataracts can cause blindness. There are many different types and causes of cataracts. They may occur in people of all ages, but are most common in the elderly.

catechol A chemical originally isolated from a type of mimosa tree. Catechol is used as an astringent, an antiseptic, and in photography, electroplating and making other chemicals. It can also be man-made.

catheter A flexible tube used to deliver fluids into or withdraw fluids from the body.

cauterize To destroy tissue using a hot or cold instrument, an electrical current or a chemical that burns or dissolves the tissue. This process may be used to kill certain types of small tumors or to seal off blood vessels to stop bleeding.

cavity A hollow area or hole. It may describe a body cavity (such as the space within the abdomen) or a hole in a tooth caused by decay.

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

cBR96-doxorubicin immunoconjugate A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It combines a monoclonal antibody with the anticancer drug doxorubicin. Monoclonal antibodies are substances that are made in the laboratory and that can locate and bind to cancer cells. Doxorubicin is a type of anthracycline antitumor antibiotic. When it is combined with a monoclonal antibody, it forms a type of drug conjugate. Also called SGN-15.

CC-49 A type of monoclonal antibody used in cancer detection or therapy. Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-produced substances that can locate and bind to cancer cells.

CC-5013 A drug that is similar to thalidomide, and is used to treat multiple myeloma and certain types of anemia. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. CC-5013 belongs to the family of drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors. Also called lenalidomide and Revlimid.

cCLB8 A chimeric (made from human and mouse proteins) monoclonal antibody being studied in the treatment of advanced kidney cancer and other types of cancer. Monoclonal antibodies are made in the laboratory and can locate and bind to substances in the body, including cancer cells. cCLB8 works by blocking inflammation and tumor growth. Also called anti-IL-6 chimeric monoclonal antibody and CNTO 328.

CD34 antigen A protein found on the surface of some bone marrow and blood cells.

CDH1 Cadherin 1, type 1, E-cadherin (epithelial). A gene that provides instructions for making a protein called epithelial cadherin or E-cadherin. Cadherins are a group of proteins on the surface of cells that help neighboring cells stick to one another (cell adhesion). These proteins bind cells together to form organized tissues.

CEA Carcinoembryonic antigen. A substance that is sometimes found in an increased amount in the blood of people who have certain cancers, other diseases or who smoke. It is used as a tumor marker for colorectal cancer. Also called carcinoembryonic antigen.

CEA assay A laboratory test to measure carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a substance that is sometimes found in an increased amount in the blood of people who have certain cancers.

cecum A pouch that forms the first part of the large intestine. It connects the small intestine to the colon, which is part of the large intestine.

cedarwood A type of evergreen tree with hard fragrant wood that is a member of the cypress family. The oil from the wood is used in soaps, shampoos, bath salts, perfumes, aromatherapy and to keep insects away. The scientific name is Juniperus virginiana. Also called Eastern red cedar and red cedar.

cefepime A drug used to treat infection. It belongs to the family of drugs called cephalosporin antibiotics.

cefixime An antibiotic drug used to treat infection. It belongs to the family of drugs called cephalosporins.

ceftriaxone A drug used to treat infection. It belongs to the family of drugs called cephalosporin antibiotics.

celecoxib A drug that reduces pain. Celecoxib belongs to the family of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents. It is being studied in the prevention of cancer.

Celexa A drug used to treat depression. It belongs to the families of drugs called antidepressant agents and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Also called citalopram.

celiac disease A digestive disease that is caused by an immune response to a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. Celiac disease damages the lining of the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. A person with celiac disease may become malnourished no matter how much food is consumed.

cell The individual unit that makes up the tissues of the body. All living things are made up of one or more cells.

cell differentiation The process during which young, immature (unspecialized) cells take on individual characteristics and reach their mature (specialized) form and function.

cell motility The ability of a cell to move.

cell proliferation An increase in the number of cells as a result of cell growth and cell division.

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

cell-cycle regulation Any process that controls the series of events by which a cell goes through the cell cycle. During the cell cycle, a cell makes a copy of its DNA and other contents, and divides in two. When cell cycle regulation doesn’t happen correctly, cells may divide in an uncontrolled way, and diseases such as cancer can occur.

cell-to-cell signaling The transfer of information from one cell to another.

cellular adhesion The close adherence (bonding) to adjoining cell surfaces.

cellular adoptive immunotherapy A treatment used to help the immune system fight cancer. A cancer patient’s T cells (a type of white blood cell) are collected and grown in the laboratory to increase the number of T cells that are able to kill the person’s cancer cells. These cancer-specific T cells are given back to the patient to help the immune system fight the cancer.

cellular metabolism The sum of all chemical changes that take place in a cell through which energy and basic components are provided for essential processes, including the synthesis of new molecules and the breakdown and removal of others.

cellulitis An acute, spreading infection of the deep tissues of the skin and muscle that causes the skin to become warm and tender and may also cause fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes and blisters.

centimeter A measure of length in the metric system. There are 100 centimeters in a meter and 2½ centimeters in an inch.

central nervous system CNS. The brain and spinal cord. Also called CNS.

central nervous system metastasis CNS metastasis. Cancer that has spread from the original (primary) tumor to the central nervous system (CNS). Also called CNS metastasis.

central nervous system primitive neuroectodermal tumor CNS PNET. A type of cancer that arises from a particular type of cell within the brain or spinal cord. Also called CNS PNET.

central nervous system prophylaxis CNS prophylaxis. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy given to the central nervous system (CNS) as a preventive treatment. It is given to kill cancer cells that may be in the brain and spinal cord, even though no cancer has been detected there. Also called CNS prophylaxis, central nervous system sanctuary therapy and CNS sanctuary therapy.

central nervous system sanctuary therapy CNS sanctuary therapy. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy given to the central nervous system (CNS) as a preventive treatment. It is given to kill cancer cells that may be in the brain and spinal cord, even though no cancer has been detected there. Also called CNS sanctuary therapy, central nervous system prophylaxis and CNS prophylaxis.

central nervous system tumor CNS tumor. A tumor of the central nervous system, including brain stem glioma, craniopharyngioma, medulloblastoma and meningioma. Also called CNS tumor.

central venous access catheter A tube surgically placed into a blood vessel for the purpose of giving intravenous fluid and drugs. It also can be used to obtain blood samples. This device avoids the need for separate needle insertions for each infusion or blood test. Examples of these devices include Hickman catheters, which require clamps to make sure the valve is closed, and Groshong catheters, which have a valve that opens as fluid is withdrawn or infused and remains closed when not in use.

CEP-2563 dihydrochloride A growth factor antagonist that may stop tumor cells from growing.

cephalexin An antibiotic drug that belongs to the family of drugs called cephalosporins.

cephalosporin A drug used to treat bacterial infections. It belongs to the family of drugs called antibiotics.

ceramide A type of fat produced in the body. It may cause some types of cells to die and is being studied in cancer treatment.

cerebellar hemangioblastoma A benign, slow-growing tumor in the cerebellum (part of the brain at the back of the head), made up of abnormal blood vessel growth. People with von Hippel-Landau disease have an increased risk of developing hemangioblastomas.

cerebellopontine Having to do with two structures of the brain, the cerebellum (located at the lower back of the brain) and the pons (located at the base of the brain in front of the cerebellum) and the area between them.

cerebellum The portion of the brain in the back of the head between the cerebrum and the brain stem. The cerebellum controls balance for walking and standing, and other complex motor functions.

cerebral hemisphere One half of the cerebrum, the part of the brain that controls muscle functions and also controls speech, thought, emotions, reading, writing and learning. The right hemisphere controls the muscles on the left side of the body, and the left hemisphere controls the muscles on the right side of the body.

cerebrospinal fluid CSF. The fluid flowing around the brain and spinal cord. Cerebrospinal fluid is produced in the ventricles in the brain. Also called CSF.

cerebrospinal fluid diversion A process used to drain fluid that has built up around the brain and spinal cord. A shunt (a long, thin tube) is placed in a ventricle of the brain and threaded under the skin to another part of the body, usually the abdomen. The shunt carries excess fluid away from the brain so it may be absorbed elsewhere in the body.

cerebrum The largest part of the brain. It is divided into two hemispheres, or halves, called the cerebral hemispheres. Areas within the cerebrum control muscle functions and also control speech, thought, emotions, reading, writing and learning.

cervical Relating to the neck, or to the neck of any organ or structure. Cervical lymph nodes are located in the neck. Cervical cancer refers to cancer of the uterine cervix, which is the lower, narrow end (the “neck”) of the uterus.

cervical cancer Cancer that forms in tissues of the cervix (the organ connecting the uterus and vagina). It is usually a slow-growing cancer that may not have symptoms but can be found with regular Pap tests (a procedure in which cells are scraped from the cervix and looked at under a microscope).

cervical intraepithelial neoplasia CIN. A general term for the growth of abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix. Numbers from 1 to 3 may be used to describe how much of the cervix contains abnormal cells. Also called CIN.

cervicectomy Surgery to remove the cervix (the end of the uterus that forms a canal between the uterus and the vagina).The upper part of the vagina and certain pelvic lymph nodes may also be removed. Also called a trachelectomy.

cervix The lower, narrow end of the uterus that forms a canal between the uterus and vagina.

cetuximab A monoclonal antibody used to treat certain types of head and neck cancer, and colorectal cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Monoclonal antibodies are made in the laboratory and can locate and bind to cancer cells. Cetuximab binds to the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which is found on the surface of some types of cancer cells. Also called Erbitux.

cevimeline A substance that increases production of saliva and tears. It is being studied as a treatment for dry mouth caused by radiation therapy to the head and neck. It belongs to the family of drugs called cholinergic enhancers.

Chamberlain procedure 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 anterior mediastinotomy.

chamomile A family of plants with daisy-like flowers that are used in tea to calm and relax, improve sleep and help digestion.

change of life The time of life when a woman's menstrual periods stop. A woman has had this change of life when she hasn't had a period for 12 months in a row. Also called menopause.

chemoembolization A procedure in which the blood supply to the tumor is blocked surgically or mechanically and anticancer drugs are administered directly into the tumor. This permits a higher concentration of drug to be in contact with the tumor for a longer period of time.

chemoimmunotherapy Chemotherapy combined with immunotherapy. Chemotherapy uses different drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells; immunotherapy uses treatments to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight cancer.

chemoprevention The use of drugs, vitamins, or other agents to try to reduce the risk of, or delay the development or recurrence of, cancer.

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

chemoprotective A quality of some drugs used in cancer treatment. Chemoprotective agents protect healthy tissue from the toxic effects of anticancer drugs.

chemoradiation Treatment that combines chemotherapy with radiation therapy. Also called chemoradiotherapy.

chemoradiotherapy Treatment that combines chemotherapy with radiation therapy. Also called chemoradiation.

chemosensitivity The susceptibility of tumor cells to the cell-killing effects of anticancer drugs.

chemosensitivity assay A laboratory test that measures the number of tumor cells that are killed by a cancer drug. The test is done after the tumor cells are removed from the body. A chemosensitivity assay may help in choosing the best drug or drugs for the cancer being treated.

chemosensitizer A drug that makes tumor cells more sensitive to the effects of chemotherapy.

chemotherapeutic agent A drug used to treat cancer.

chemotherapy Treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells.

chest wall The muscles, bones and joints that make up the area of the body between the neck and the abdomen.

chest X-ray An X-ray of the structures inside the chest. An X-ray is a type of high-energy radiation that can go through the body and onto film, making pictures of areas inside the chest, which can be used to diagnose disease.

chiasma An anatomy term for an X-shaped crossing (for example, of nerves or tendons).

Chinese meridian theory In traditional Chinese medicine, meridians are channels that form a network in the body, through which qi (vital energy) flows. Blocked qi causes pain or illness. The flow of qi is restored by using pressure, needles, suction or heat at hundreds of specific points along the meridians.

Chinese rhubarb Rheum palmatum or Rheum officinale. The root of this plant has been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems. It may have anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects. Also called rhubarb, da-huang, Indian rhubarb and Turkish rhubarb.

chitin A type of polysaccharide (sugar molecule) that is made by some plants and animals. The hard outer shell of shrimp, lobsters and many insects is made of chitin.

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

chloroma A malignant, green-colored tumor of myeloid cells (a type of immature white blood cell). This tumor is usually associated with myelogenous leukemia. Also called granulocytic sarcoma.

chloroquinoxaline sulfonamide CQS. A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of topoisomerase inhibitor. Also called CQS.

cholangiocarcinoma A rare type of cancer that develops in cells that line the bile ducts in the liver. Cancer that forms where the right and left ducts meet is called Klatskin tumor.

cholangiosarcoma A tumor of the connective tissues of the bile ducts.

cholecalciferol A nutrient that helps the body use calcium and phosphorus and make strong bones and teeth. It is found in fatty fish, eggs and dairy products. The skin can also make cholecalciferol when exposed to sunshine. Not getting enough cholecalciferol can cause a bone disease called rickets. Cholecalciferol is being studied in the prevention and treatment of some types of cancer. Also called vitamin D.

cholelith Solid material that forms in the gallbladder or common bile duct. Choleliths are made of cholesterol or other substances found in the gallbladder. They may occur as one large stone or as many small ones, and vary from the size of a golf ball to a grain of sand. Also called gallstone.

cholestasis Any condition in which the release of bile from the liver is blocked. The blockage can occur in the liver (intrahepatic cholestasis) or in the bile ducts (extrahepatic cholestasis).

cholesterol A waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver, and found in the blood and in all cells of the body. Cholesterol is important for good health and is needed for making cell walls, tissues, hormones, vitamin D and bile acid. Cholesterol also comes from eating foods taken from animals such as egg yolks, meat and whole-milk dairy products. Too much cholesterol in the blood may build up in blood vessel walls, block blood flow to tissues and organs and increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

chondrocyte Cartilage cell. Chondrocytes make the structural components of cartilage.

chondroitin sulfate The major glycosaminoglycan (a type of sugar molecule) in cartilage.

chondrosarcoma A type of cancer that forms in cartilage.

chordoma A type of bone cancer that usually starts in the lower spinal cord.

chorioadenoma destruens A type of cancer that grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. It is formed after conception (fertilization of an egg by a sperm). It may spread to other parts of the body, such as the vagina, vulva and lung. Also called invasive hydatidiform mole.

chorioallantoic membrane The membrane in hen's eggs that helps chicken embryos get enough oxygen and calcium for development. The calcium comes from the egg shell.

choriocarcinoma A rare cancer in women of childbearing age in which cancer cells grow in the tissues that are formed in the uterus after conception. Also called gestational trophoblastic disease, gestational trophoblastic neoplasia, gestational trophoblastic tumor or molar pregnancy.

choroid plexus tumor A rare type of cancer that occurs in the ventricles of the brain. It usually occurs in children younger than 2 years.

CHPP Continuous hyperthermic peritoneal perfusion. A procedure that bathes the abdominal cavity in fluid that contains anticancer drugs. This fluid is warmer than body temperature. This procedure appears to kill cancer cells without harming normal cells. Also called continuous hyperthermic peritoneal perfusion.

chromosome Part of a cell that contains genetic information. Except for sperm and eggs, all human cells contain 46 chromosomes.

chronic A disease or condition that persists or progresses over a long period of time.

chronic eosinophilic leukemia A disease in which too many eosinophils (a type of white blood cell) are found in the bone marrow, blood and other tissues. Chronic eosinophilic leukemia may stay the same for many years, or it may progress quickly to acute leukemia.

chronic fatigue syndrome A condition lasting for more than 6 months in which a person feels tired most of the time and may have trouble concentrating and carrying out daily activities. Other symptoms include sore throat, fever, muscle weakness, headache and joint pain.

chronic granulocytic leukemia A slowly progressing disease in which too many white blood cells (not lymphocytes) are made in the bone marrow. Also called chronic myelogenous leukemia, chronic myeloid leukemia and CML.

chronic idiopathic myelofibrosis 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 agnogenic myeloid metaplasia, primary myelofibrosis, myelosclerosis with myeloid metaplasia and idiopathic myelofibrosis.

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

chronic lymphoblastic leukemia CLL. A slow-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 chronic lymphocytic leukemia and CLL.

chronic lymphocytic leukemia CLL. A slow-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 chronic lymphoblastic leukemia and CLL.

chronic myelogenous leukemia CML. A slowly progressing disease in which too many white blood cells (not lymphocytes) are made in the bone marrow. Also called CML, chronic granulocytic leukemia and chronic myeloid leukemia.

chronic myeloid leukemia CML. A slowly progressing disease in which too many white blood cells (not lymphocytes) are made in the bone marrow. Also called chronic myelogenous leukemia, CML and chronic granulocytic leukemia.

chronic myelomonocytic leukemia CMML. A slowly progressing type of myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative disease in which too many myelomonocytes (a type of white blood cell) are in the bone marrow, crowding out other normal blood cells, such as other white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.

chronic neutrophilic leukemia A disease in which too many neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) are found in the blood. The extra neutrophils may cause the spleen and liver to become enlarged. Chronic neutrophilic leukemia may stay the same for many years or it may progress quickly to acute leukemia.

chronic pain Pain that can range from mild to severe, and persists or progresses over a long period of time.

chronic phase Refers to the early stages of chronic myelogenous leukemia or chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The number of mature and immature abnormal white blood cells in the bone marrow and blood is higher than normal, but lower than in the accelerated or blast phase.

chronic phase chronic myelogenous leukemia A phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia in which 5% or fewer of the cells in the blood and bone marrow are blast cells (immature blood cells). This phase may last from several months to several years, and there may be no symptoms of leukemia.

CI-980 An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called mitotic inhibitors. Also called mivobulin isethionate.

cidofovir A drug used in the treatment of infections caused by viruses.

cilengitide A substance that is being studied as an anticancer and antiangiogenesis drug. Also called EMD 121974.

cimetidine A drug usually used to treat stomach ulcers and heartburn. It is also commonly used in a regimen to prevent allergic reactions.

CIN Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. A general term for the growth of abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix. Numbers from 1 to 3 may be used to describe how much of the cervix contains abnormal cells. Also called cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.

Cipro A drug that is used to treat infections caused by bacteria and is being studied in the treatment of bladder cancer. Cipro is a type of fluoroquinolone. Also called ciprofloxacin.

ciprofloxacin A drug that is used to treat infections caused by bacteria and is being studied in the treatment of bladder cancer. Ciprofloxacin is a type of fluoroquinolone. Also called Cipro.

circulatory system The system that contains the heart and the blood vessels and moves blood throughout the body. This system helps tissues get enough oxygen and nutrients, and it helps them get rid of waste products. The lymph system, which connects with the blood system, is often considered part of the circulatory system.

circumcision Surgery to remove part or all of the foreskin (loose skin that covers the head of the penis).

cirrhosis A type of chronic, progressive liver disease in which liver cells are replaced by scar tissue.

cisplatin An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called platinum compounds.

citalopram A drug used to treat depression. It belongs to the families of drugs called antidepressant agents and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Also called Celexa.

citric acid/potassium-sodium citrate A drug used in the treatment of metabolic acidosis (a disorder in which the blood is too acidic).

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

clarithromycin An antibiotic drug used in the treatment of infections. It belongs to the family of drugs called macrolides.

Claus model A computer program that uses statistics to predict a person’s risk for developing breast cancer based on family history.

clear cell A type of cell that looks clear inside when viewed under a microscope.

clear cell adenocarcinoma A rare type of tumor, usually of the female genital tract, in which the inside of the cells look clear when viewed under a microscope. Also called clear cell carcinoma and mesonephroma.

clear cell carcinoma A rare type of tumor, usually of the female genital tract, in which the inside of the cells look clear when viewed under a microscope. Also called clear cell adenocarcinoma and mesonephroma.

clear cell sarcoma of the kidney A rare type of kidney cancer. Clear cell sarcoma can spread from the kidney to other organs, most commonly the bone, but also including the lungs, brain and soft tissues of the body.

cleaved Having to do with the appearance of cells when viewed under a microscope. The nucleus of cleaved cells appears divided or segmented.

clinical breast exam An exam of the breast performed by a health care provider to check for lumps or other changes.

clinical practice guidelines Guidelines developed to help health care professionals and patients make decisions about screening, prevention or treatment of a specific health condition.

clinical resistance The failure of a cancer to shrink after treatment.

clinical series A case series in which the patients receive treatment in a clinic or other medical facility.

clinical study A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of a disease. Also called a clinical trial.

clinical trial A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of a disease. Also called a clinical study.

clodronate A drug used in the treatment of hypercalcemia (abnormally high levels of calcium in the blood) and cancer that has spread to the bone (bone metastases). It may decrease pain, the risk of fractures and the development of new bone metastases.

clofarabine A drug used to treat certain types of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Clofarabine belongs to the family of drugs called nucleoside analogs. Also called Clolar.

Clolar A drug used to treat certain types of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Clolar belongs to the family of drugs called nucleoside analogs. Also called clofarabine.

cnicin A substance found in certain plants, including blessed thistle. It has been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems. It may have anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects. Cnicin belongs to a group of substances called sesquiterpene lactones.

CNS PNET Central nervous system primitive neuroectodermal tumor. A type of cancer that arises from a particular type of cell within the brain or spinal cord. Also called central nervous system primitive neuroectodermal tumor.

CNS prophylaxis Central nervous system prophylaxis. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy given to the central nervous system (CNS) as a preventive treatment. It is given to kill cancer cells that may be in the brain and spinal cord, even though no cancer has been detected there. Also called central nervous system prophylaxis, central nervous system sanctuary therapy and CNS sanctuary therapy.

CNS sanctuary therapy Central nervous system sanctuary therapy. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy given to the central nervous system (CNS) as a preventive treatment. It is given to kill cancer cells that may be in the brain and spinal cord, even though no cancer has been detected there. Also called central nervous system sanctuary therapy, central nervous system prophylaxis and CNS prophylaxis.

CNS tumor Central nervous system tumor. A tumor of the central nervous system (CNS), including brain stem glioma, craniopharyngioma, medulloblastoma and meningioma. Also called central nervous system tumor.

co-culture A mixture of two or more different kinds of cells that are grown together.

co-trimoxazole A drug used in the treatment of infections caused by bacteria and protozoa. It is a combination of two anti-infection drugs, sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim.

coactivated T cell A T cell that has been coated with monoclonal antibodies to enhance its ability to kill tumor cells.

cobalamin A vitamin that is needed to make red blood cells and DNA (the genetic material in cells) and to keep nerve cells healthy. It is found in eggs, meat, poultry, shellfish, milk and milk products. Cobalamin, along with folate, may be given to help reduce side effects in cancer patients being treated with drugs called antimetabolites. Also called vitamin B12.

cobalt 60 A radioactive form of the metal cobalt, which is used as a source of radiation to treat cancer.

coccyx The small bone at the bottom of the spine. It is made up of 3-5 fused bones. Also called tailbone.

Cockayne syndrome A genetic condition characterized by short stature, premature aging, sensitivity to light and possibly deafness and mental retardation.

coenzyme Q10 A substance found in most tissues in the body, and in many foods. It can also be made in the laboratory. It is used by the body to produce energy for cells, and as an antioxidant. It is being studied in the treatment of cancer and in the relief of side effects caused by some cancer treatments. Also called Q10, CoQ10, vitamin Q10 and ubiquinone.

coffee enema The injection of coffee through the anus into the colon (large intestine). Coffee enemas are being tested in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

cognition The mental process of thinking, learning, remembering, being aware of surroundings and using judgment.

cohort study A research study that compares a particular outcome (such as lung cancer) in groups of individuals who are alike in many ways but differ by a certain characteristic (for example, female nurses who smoke compared with those who do not smoke).

cold nodule When radioactive material is used to examine the thyroid with a scanner, nodules that collect less radioactive material than the surrounding thyroid tissue are considered "cold." A nodule that is cold does not make thyroid hormone. Cold nodules may be benign or cancerous. Cold nodules are sometimes called hypofunctioning nodules.

colectomy An operation to remove all or part of the colon. When only part of the colon is removed, it is called a partial colectomy. In an open colectomy, one long incision is made in the wall of the abdomen and doctors can see the colon directly. In a laparoscopic-assisted colectomy, several small incisions are made and a thin, lighted tube attached to a video camera is inserted through one opening to guide the surgery. Surgical instruments are inserted through the other openings to perform the surgery.

colitis Inflammation of the colon.

collagen A fibrous protein found in cartilage and other connective tissue.

collagen disease A term previously used to describe chronic diseases of the connective tissue (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and systemic sclerosis), but now is thought to be more appropriate for diseases associated with defects in collagen, which is a component of the connective tissue.

collagenase A type of enzyme that breaks down the protein collagen.

collecting duct The last part of a long, twisting tube that collects urine from the nephrons (cellular structures in the kidney that filter blood and form urine) and moves it into the renal pelvis and ureters. Also called renal collecting tubule.

colloidal gold-bound tumor necrosis factor A substance being studied in the treatment of some types of cancer. Colloidal gold-bound tumor necrosis factor 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 Aurimmune.

coloanal anastomosis A surgical procedure in which the colon is attached to the anus after the rectum has been removed. Also called coloanal pull-through.

coloanal pull-through A surgical procedure in which the colon is attached to the anus after the rectum has been removed. Also called coloanal anastomosis.

colon The longest part of the large intestine, which is a tube-like organ connected to the small intestine at one end and the anus at the other. The colon removes water and some nutrients and electrolytes from partially digested food. The remaining material, solid waste called stool, moves through the colon to the rectum and leaves the body through the anus.

colon cancer Cancer that forms in the tissues of the colon (the longest part of the large intestine). Most colon cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids).

colon polyp An abnormal growth of tissue in the lining of the bowel. Polyps are a risk factor for colon cancer.

colonoscope A thin, tube-like instrument used to examine the inside of the colon. A colonoscope has a light and a lens for viewing and may have a tool to remove tissue.

colonoscopy Examination of the inside of the colon using a colonoscope, inserted into the rectum. A colonoscope 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.

colony-stimulating factor A substance that stimulates the production of blood cells. Colony-stimulating factors include granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and promegapoietin.

colorectal Having to do with the colon or the rectum.

colorectal cancer Cancer that develops in the colon (the longest part of the large intestine) and/or the rectum (the last several inches of the large intestine before the anus).

colostomy An opening into the colon from the outside of the body. A colostomy provides a new path for waste material to leave the body after part of the colon has been removed.

colposcope A lighted magnifying instrument used to examine the vagina and cervix.

colposcopy Examination of the vagina and cervix using a lighted magnifying instrument called a colposcope.

combination chemotherapy Treatment using more than one anticancer drug.

combretastatin A4 phosphate A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called tubulin-binding agents.

comedo carcinoma A type of ductal carcinoma in situ (very early-stage breast cancer).

comfort care Care given to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease. The goal of comfort care is to prevent or treat as early as possible the symptoms of the disease, side effects caused by treatment of the disease, and psychological, social and spiritual problems related to the disease or its treatment. Also called palliative care, supportive care, and symptom management.

common bile duct Carries bile from the liver and gallbladder into the duodenum (the upper part of the small intestine).

comorbidity The condition of having two or more diseases at the same time.

comparative anatomy The comparison of the structure (anatomy) of one animal or plant with the structure of a different animal or plant.

compassionate use trial A way to provide an investigational therapy to a patient who is not eligible to receive that therapy in a clinical trial, but who has a serious or life-threatening illness for which other treatments are not available. Compassionate use allows a patient to receive promising but not yet fully studied or approved cancer therapies when no other treatment option exists. Also called expanded access trial.

complement protein One of a group of about 20 proteins that is found in the blood and is important in fighting infection and disease.

complementary and alternative medicine CAM. Forms of treatment that are used in addition to (complementary) or instead of (alternative) standard treatments. These practices generally are not considered standard medical approaches. Standard treatments go through a long and careful research process to prove they are safe and effective, but less is known about most types of CAM. CAM may include dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, acupuncture, massage therapy, magnet therapy, spiritual healing and meditation. Also called CAM.

complementary medicine Practices often used to enhance or complement standard treatments. They generally are not recognized by the medical community as standard or conventional medical approaches. Complementary medicine may include dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, acupuncture, massage therapy, magnet therapy, spiritual healing and meditation.

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

complete hysterectomy Surgery to remove the entire uterus, including the cervix. Sometimes, not all of the cervix is removed. Also called total hysterectomy.

complete metastasectomy Surgery to remove all metastases (tumors formed from cells that have spread from the primary tumor).

complete remission The disappearance of all signs of cancer in response to treatment. This does not always mean the cancer has been cured. Also called a complete response.

complete response The disappearance of all signs of cancer in response to treatment. This does not always mean the cancer has been cured. Also called a complete remission.

compliance The act of following a medical regimen or schedule correctly and consistently, including taking medicines or following a diet.

complication In medicine, a medical problem that occurs during a disease, or after a procedure or treatment. The complication may be caused by the disease, procedure or treatment or may be unrelated to them.

compound In science, a substance that is made up of more than one ingredient.

compound nevus A type of mole formed by groups of nevus cells found in the epidermis and dermis (the two main layers of tissue that make up the skin).

compression bandage A bandage designed to provide pressure to a particular area.

computed tomographic colonography CTC. A procedure in which a detailed picture of the colon is created by an X-ray machine linked to a computer. Also called CTC.

computed tomography colography A method under study to examine the colon by taking a series of X-rays (called a CT scan) and using a high-powered computer to reconstruct 2-D and 3-D pictures of the interior surfaces of the colon from these x-rays. The pictures can be saved, manipulated to better viewing angles and reviewed after the procedure, even years later. Also called virtual colonoscopy.

computed tomography scan CT scan. A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body taken from different angles; the pictures are created by a computer linked to an X-ray machine. Also called CT scan, computerized tomography scan, computerized axial tomography scan and CAT scan.

computerized axial tomography scan A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body taken from different angles; the pictures are created by a computer linked to an X-ray machine. Also called CAT scan, computed tomography scan, CT scan and computerized tomography.

computerized tomography A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body taken from different angles; the pictures are created by a computer linked to an X-ray machine. Also called computerized axial tomography scan, CAT scan, computed tomography scan and CT scan.

conception In biology, the beginning of pregnancy, marked by fertilization of an egg by a sperm.

concurrent therapy A treatment that is given at the same time as another.

conditioned response A type of learning in which repeated exposure to something may affect a person’s behavior when they encounter an unrelated object, sound or smell that occurred at the same time as the initial exposure. For example, a patient who always feels sick after receiving chemotherapy in a clinic that smells a certain way may be conditioned to feel sick when smelling the same odor in a different place.

conditioned stimulus A situation in which one signal, or stimulus, is given just before another signal. After this happens several times, the first signal alone can cause the response that would usually need the second signal.

condyloma A raised growth on the surface of the genitals caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The HPV in condyloma is very contagious and can be spread by skin-to-skin contact, usually during oral, anal or genital sex with an infected partner. A female with condyloma is at an increased risk for developing cervical cancer. Also called genital wart and condylomata acuminata.

condylomata acuminata A raised growth on the surface of the genitals caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The HPV in condylomata acuminata is very contagious and can be spread by skin-to-skin contact, usually during oral, anal or genital sex with an infected partner. A female with condylomata acuminata is at an increased risk for developing cervical cancer. Also called condyloma and genital wart.

cone biopsy Surgery to remove a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix and cervical canal. Cone biopsy may be used to diagnose or treat a cervical condition. Also called conization.

confusion A mental state in which one is not thinking clearly.

congestive heart failure Weakness of the heart muscle that leads to a buildup of fluid in body tissues.

conization Surgery to remove a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix and cervical canal. Conization may be used to diagnose or treat a cervical condition. Also called cone biopsy.

conjunctiva A membrane that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and also covers the front part of the eye. Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva.

conjunctivitis A condition in which the conjunctiva (membranes lining the eyelids and covering the white part of the eye) become inflamed or infected. Also called pinkeye.

connective tissue Supporting tissue that surrounds other tissues and organs. Specialized connective tissue includes bone, cartilage, blood and fat.

consecutive case series A clinical study that includes all eligible patients identified by the researchers during the study registration period. The patients are treated in the order in which they are identified. This type of study usually does not have a control group.

Consensus Development Program A program of the National Institutes of Health to bring together an independent group of experts to review scientific evidence related to an important public health issue. For a specific issue, a panel of experts (such as doctors and scientists) reviews reports and papers on the subject, listens to information presented by other experts in the field and hears comments from the general public. Based on the evidence presented, the panel writes a report summarizing the findings, which is made available to the public. The report is not intended to be a practice guideline.

consolidation therapy A type of high-dose chemotherapy often given as the second phase (after induction therapy) of a cancer treatment regimen for leukemia. Also called intensification therapy.

constipation A condition in which stool becomes hard, dry and difficult to pass, and bowel movements don’t happen very often. Other symptoms may include painful bowel movements, and feeling bloated, uncomfortable and sluggish.

constitutional acupuncture A type of acupuncture based on a form of Oriental medicine in which treatment is based on a person’s constitution. According to this type of medicine, the constitution is the specific way a person’s organs affect health and how he or she looks, thinks, behaves and responds to treatment. Also called Korean acupuncture.

contiguous Touching or very close together.

contiguous lymphoma Lymphoma in which the lymph nodes containing cancer are next to each other.

continent reservoir A pouch formed from a piece of small intestine to hold urine after the bladder has been removed.

contingency management In medicine, a treatment plan that gives immediate rewards for desired changes in behavior. It is based on the principle that if a good behavior is rewarded, it is more likely to be repeated. This is often used in the treatment of drug and alcohol abuse, and is being studied as a smoking cessation method.

continuous hyperthermic peritoneal perfusion CHPP. A procedure that bathes the abdominal cavity in fluid that contains anticancer drugs. This fluid is warmer than body temperature. This procedure appears to kill cancer cells without harming normal cells. Also called CHPP.

continuous infusion The administration of a fluid into a blood vessel, usually over a prolonged period of time.

contraindication A symptom or medical condition that makes a particular treatment or procedure inadvisable because a person is likely to have a bad reaction. For example, having a bleeding disorder is a contraindication for taking aspirin because treatment with aspirin may cause excess bleeding.

contralateral Having to do with the opposite side of the body.

contrast material A dye or other substance that helps show abnormal areas inside the body. It is given by injection into a vein, by enema, or by mouth. Contrast material may be used with X-rays, CT scans, MRI or other imaging tests.

control animal An animal in a study that does not receive the treatment being tested. Comparing the health of control animals with the health of treated animals allows researchers to evaluate the effects of a treatment more accurately.

control group In a clinical trial, the group that does not receive the new treatment being studied. This group is compared to the group that receives the new treatment, to see if the new treatment works.

controlled clinical trial A clinical study that includes a comparison (control) group. The comparison group receives a placebo, another treatment or no treatment at all.

controlled low-voltage electrical stimulation A technique in which mild electric currents are applied to some areas of the skin by a small power pack connected to two electrodes. Also called transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation and TENS.

controlled study An experiment or clinical trial that includes a comparison (control) group.

conventional 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 Western medicine, mainstream medicine, orthodox medicine, biomedicine and allopathic medicine.

conventional therapy A currently accepted and widely used treatment for a certain type of disease, based on the results of past research. Also called conventional treatment.

conventional treatment A currently accepted and widely used treatment for a certain type of disease, based on the results of past research. Also called conventional therapy.

Coomb's 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 antiglobulin test.

cope To adjust to new situations and overcome problems.

coping skills The methods a person uses to deal with stressful situations. These may help a person face a situation, take action and be flexible and persistent in solving problems.

CoQ10 A substance found in most tissues in the body, and in many foods. It can also be made in the laboratory. It is used by the body to produce energy for cells, and as an antioxidant. It is being studied in the treatment of cancer and in the relief of side effects caused by some cancer treatments. Also called coenzyme Q10, Q10, vitamin Q10 and ubiquinone.

cordectomy An operation on the vocal cords or on the spinal cord.

cordycepin An anticancer drug that belongs to a family of drugs called antitumor antibiotics.

core biopsy The removal of a tissue sample with a needle for examination under a microscope.

cornea The transparent part of the eye that covers the iris and the pupil and allows light to enter the inside.

coronary artery bypass CAB. 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 CAB and aortocoronary bypass.

coronary artery disease CAD. A disease in which there is a narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries (blood vessels that carry blood and oxygen to the heart). Coronary artery disease is usually caused by atherosclerosis (a build up of fatty material and plaque inside the coronary arteries). The disease may cause chest pain, shortness of breath during exercise and heart attacks. The risk of coronary artery disease is increased by having a family history of coronary artery disease before age 50, older age, smoking tobacco, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, lack of exercise and obesity. Also called CAD and coronary heart disease.

coronary heart disease A disease in which there is a narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries (blood vessels that carry blood and oxygen to the heart). Coronary heart disease is usually caused by atherosclerosis (a build up of fatty material and plaque inside the coronary arteries). The disease may cause chest pain, shortness of breath during exercise and heart attacks. The risk of coronary heart disease is increased by having a family history of coronary heart disease before age 50, older age, smoking tobacco, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, lack of exercise and obesity. Also called coronary artery disease and CAD.

corpus The body of the uterus.

corticosteroid Any steroid hormone made in the adrenal cortex (the outer part of the adrenal gland). They are also made in the laboratory. Corticosteroids have many different effects in the body, and are used to treat many different conditions. They may be used as hormone replacement, to suppress the immune system and to treat some side effects of cancer and its treatment. Corticosteroids are also used to treat certain lymphomas and lymphoid leukemias.

corticotropin A form of the hormone adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). It belongs to the family of drugs called corticosteroids.

cortisone A natural steroid hormone produced in the adrenal gland. It can also be made in the laboratory. Cortisone reduces swelling and can suppress immune responses.

Corynebacterium granulosum A bacterium that may stimulate the immune system to fight cancer.

coumestan An estrogen-like substance (phytoestrogen) made by some plants. Coumestans may have anticancer effects.

coumestrol A type of coumestan. Coumestans are estrogen-like substances (phytoestrogens) made by some plants. Coumestans may have anticancer effects.

counseling The process by which a professional counselor helps a person cope with mental or emotional distress, and understand and solve personal problems.

Cowden syndrome A rare disorder characterized by multiple noncancerous, tumor-like growths called hamartomas and an increased risk of developing certain cancers.

COX inhibitor Cyclo-oxygenase inhibitor. A type of drug that is used to treat inflammation and pain, and is being studied in the prevention and treatment of cancer. COX inhibitors belong to the family of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Also called cyclo-oxygenase inhibitor.

COX-2 inhibitor Cyclo-oxygenase-2 inhibitor. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to relieve pain and inflammation. COX-2 inhibitors are being studied in the prevention of colon polyps, and as anticancer drugs. Also called cyclo-oxygenase-2 inhibitor.

CP-358,774 A drug used to treat certain types of non-small cell lung cancer. It is also used together with gemcitabine to treat pancreatic cancer and is being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. CP-358,774 belongs to the family of drugs called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Also called erlotinib, erlotinib hydrochloride, OSI-774 and Tarceva.

CPT 11 An anticancer drug that belongs to a family of drugs called topoisomerase inhibitors. It is a camptothecin analogue. Also called irinotecan.

CQS Chloroquinoxaline sulfonamide. A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of topoisomerase inhibitor. Also called chloroquinoxaline sulfonamide.

craniopharyngioma A benign brain tumor that may be considered malignant because it can damage the hypothalamus, the area of the brain that controls body temperature, hunger and thirst.

craniotomy An operation in which an opening is made in the skull.

creatine A substance that is made by the body and used to store energy. It is being studied in the treatment of weight loss related to cancer. It is derived from the amino acid arginine.

creatinine A compound that is excreted from the body in urine. Creatinine levels are measured to monitor kidney function.

cribriform Pierced with small holes as in a sieve. Refers to the appearance of a tumor when viewed under a microscope. The tumor appears to have open spaces or small holes inside.

crisis intervention Immediate, short-term counseling (talking with a professional counselor) to stop a critical emotional incident (e.g., attempted suicide or drug overdose) from getting worse. Crisis intervention is not meant to solve the problem that led up to the crisis.

crisnatol mesylate An anticancer drug that interferes with the DNA in cancer cells.

Crocinic Acid A liquid that has been promoted as a treatment for a wide range of diseases, including cancer. The ingredients thought to be in Crocinic Acid have been tested, and none of them has been shown to be effective in treating any form of cancer. Crocinic Acid is not available in the United States. Also called Entelev, Sheridan’s Formula, Jim’s Juice, Cancell, JS–114, JS–101, 126–F and Cantron.

Crohn's disease Chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, most commonly the small intestine and colon. Crohn's disease increases the risk for colorectal cancer and small intestine cancer. Also called regional enteritis.

cruciferous vegetable A member of the family of vegetables that includes kale, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and turnips. These vegetables contain substances that may protect against cancer.

cryoablation A procedure in which tissue is frozen to destroy abnormal cells. This is usually done with a special instrument that contains liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide. Also called cryosurgery.

cryopreservation The process of cooling and storing cells, tissues, or organs at very low or freezing temperatures to save them for future use.

cryosurgery A procedure in which tissue is frozen to destroy abnormal cells. This is usually done with a special instrument that contains liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide. Also called cryoablation.

cryotherapy Any method that uses cold temperature to treat disease.

cryptorchidism A condition in which one or both testicles fail to move from the abdomen, where they develop before birth, into the scrotum. Cryptorchidism may increase the risk for development of testicular cancer. Also called undescended testicles.

CSF Cerebrospinal fluid. The fluid flowing around the brain and spinal cord. CSF is produced in the ventricles of the brain. Also called cerebrospinal fluid.

CT scan Computed tomography scan. A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body taken from different angles; the pictures are created by a computer linked to an X-ray machine. Also called computed tomography scan, computerized tomography, computerized axial tomography scan and CAT scan.

CTC Computed tomographic colonography. A procedure in which a detailed picture of the colon is created by an X-ray machine linked to a computer. Also called computed tomographic colonography.

Cubicin A drug used to treat certain bacterial skin and bloodstream infections in adults. Cubicin is also being studied in the treatment of fever and neutropenia (an abnormal decrease in the number of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell) in patients with cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called antibiotics. Also called daptomycin.

cultured cell A human, plant or animal cell that has been adapted to grow in the laboratory.

cultured cell line Cells of a single type (human, animal, or plant) that have been adapted to grow continuously in the laboratory and are used in research.

cumulative dose In medicine, the total amount of a drug or radiation given to a patient over time; for example, the total dose of radiation given in a series of radiation treatments.

CUP Carcinoma of unknown primary. A case in which cancer cells are found in the body, but the place where the cells first started growing (the origin or primary site) cannot be determined. Also called carcinoma of unknown primary and cancer of unknown primary origin.

cupping A procedure in which a rounded glass cup is warmed and placed upside down over an area of the body, creating suction that holds the cup to the skin. Cupping increases the flow of blood. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is also thought to increase the flow of qi (vital energy).

curcumin A yellow pigment of the spice turmeric that is being studied in cancer prevention.

cure To heal or restore health; a treatment to restore health.

curettage Removal of tissue with a curette (a spoon-shaped instrument with a sharp edge).

curette A spoon-shaped instrument with a sharp edge.

cutaneous Having to do with the skin.

cutaneous breast cancer Cancer that has spread from the breast to the skin.

cutaneous T-cell lymphoma A disease in which certain cells of the lymph system (called T lymphocytes) become cancerous (malignant) and affect the skin.

cyanogenic glucoside A plant compound that contains sugar and produces cyanide.

cyanosis Blue-colored skin caused by too little oxygen in the blood.

cyclo-oxygenase inhibitor COX inhibitor. A type of drug that is used to treat inflammation and pain, and is being studied in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Cyclo-oxygenase inhibitors belong to the family of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Also called COX inhibitor.

cyclo-oxygenase-2 inhibitor COX-2 inhibitor. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to relieve pain and inflammation. Cyclo-oxygenase-2 inhibitors are being studied in the prevention of colon polyps, and as anticancer drugs. Also called COX-2 inhibitor.

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

cyclosporine A drug used to help reduce the risk of rejection of organ and bone marrow transplants by the body. It is also used in clinical trials to make cancer cells more sensitive to anticancer drugs.

cyproheptadine A drug that is used to treat asthma, allergies and colds, and to relieve itching caused by certain skin disorders. It has also been used to stimulate appetite and weight gain, and is being studied in the treatment of weight loss caused by cancer and its treatment. Cyproheptadine belongs to the family of drugs called antihistamines.

cyproterone acetate A synthetic hormone being studied for treatment of hot flashes in men with prostate cancer who have had both testicles removed by surgery.

cyst A sac or capsule in the body. It may be filled with fluid or other material.

cystectomy Surgery to remove all or part of the bladder.

cystic fibrosis A common hereditary disease in which exocrine (secretory) glands produce abnormally thick mucus. This mucus can cause problems in digestion, breathing, and body cooling.

cystoprostatectomy Surgery to remove the bladder (the organ that holds urine), the seminal vesicles and the prostate. The seminal vesicles and prostate are glands in the male reproductive system that help make semen. Also called prostatocystectomy.

cystosarcoma phyllodes CSP. A type of tumor found in breast tissue. It is often large and bulky and grows quickly. It is usually benign (not cancer), but may be malignant (cancer). Also called phyllodes tumor.

cystoscope A thin, tube-like instrument used to look inside the bladder and urethra. A cystoscope has a light and a lens for viewing and may have a tool to remove tissue.

cystoscopy Examination of the bladder and urethra using a cystoscope, inserted into the urethra. A cystoscope 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.

cystourethrectomy Surgery to remove the bladder (the organ that holds urine) and urethra (the tube through which urine leaves the body).

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

cytochlor A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of radiosensitizer.

cytochrome P450 enzyme system A group of enzymes involved in drug metabolism and found in high levels in the liver. These enzymes change many drugs, including anticancer drugs, into less toxic forms that are easier for the body to excrete.

cytogenetics The study of chromosomes and chromosomal abnormalities.

cytokine A substance that is produced by cells of the immune system and can affect the immune response. Cytokines can also be produced in the laboratory by recombinant DNA technology and given to people to affect immune responses.

cytology The study of cells using a microscope.

cytomegalovirus CMV. A virus that may be carried in an inactive state for life by healthy individuals. It is a cause of severe pneumonia in people with a suppressed immune system, such as those undergoing bone marrow transplantation or those with leukemia or lymphoma.

cytopenia A reduction in the number of blood cells.

cytoplasm The fluid inside a cell but outside the cell's nucleus. Most chemical reactions in a cell take place in the cytoplasm.

cytotoxic Cell-killing.

cytotoxic chemotherapy Anticancer drugs that kill cells, especially cancer cells.

cytotoxic T cell A type of white blood cell that can directly destroy specific cells. T cells can be separated from other blood cells, grown in the laboratory, and then given to a patient to destroy tumor cells. Certain cytokines can also be given to a patient to help form cytotoxic T cells in the patient's body.

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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