Banner Health Services  

Glossary of Cancer Terms

  • Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation - a method of brachytherapy using a device with catheters implanted in the cavity of the breast after a lumpectomy.  Radioactive material is then temporarily placed into the device through the catheters to treat the lumpectomy site. Treatments are delivered treated twice daily for five days rather than 35 treatments in six to seven weeks.
  • Advanced Surgical Services - the oldest form of treatment for cancer. It also has an important role in diagnosing and staging of cancer. 
  • Biological Response Modifiers- substances that boost the body's immune system to fight against cancer; interferon is one example. Also known as immunotherapy.
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation – a treatment that restores blood-forming stem cells that have been destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. The bone marrow may come from the patient or a donor.
  • Brachytherapy –delivers radiation to the surgical site from which a cancer has been removed, but doesn’t irradiate the rest of the tissue. It uses radioactive seeds or pellets to deliver the radiation.
  • Chemoembolization uses tiny beads to deliver cancer-killing drugs directly into liver tumors.
  • Chemotherapy – uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy can also harm healthy, fast growing cells but these cells usually repair themselves after chemotherapy treatments stop. Banner Health offers chemotherapy in an outpatient setting in most of our hospitals.
  • Cryoablation Treatment – uses liquid nitrogen spray or a very cold probe to freeze and kill abnormal cells. This technique is sometimes used to kill precancerous conditions such as those affecting the cervix.
  • Cryoblation is a procedure where probes are placed directly into tumors using freezing temperatures to kill cancer without harming the surrounding tissue.
  • Embolization is the delivery of drugs or radiation via the blood supply directly into a tumor.
    External Beam Radiation Therapy – uses computer programs to precisely map out the tumor in three dimensions and aims photon beams from several directions to treat the tumor.
  • First Course Treatment - Generally the initial tumor-directed treatment or series of treatments, usually initiated within the first four months following diagnosis.
  • Hormone Therapy - reduces levels of the male hormones, called androgens, in the body. Androgens, produced mainly in the testicles, help prostate cancer cells to grow. Lowering androgen levels often makes prostate cancers shrink or grow more slowly.
  • I-131 Treatment - is produced by fusing a special type of man-made protein, called a monoclonal antibody, with a radioactive element, such as I-131. When injected into the bloodstream, this particular monoclonal antibody seeks out and attaches to a protein and helps kill cancer cells.
  • Mammosite and Multiplane Breast Implants - Another method of brachytherapy; it consists of a balloon attached to a thin tube. The balloon is inserted into the lumpectomy space and filled with a salt-water solution. Radioactive material is then temporarily placed into the balloon through the tube and is removed twice daily for five days.
  • Pain Management - Pain management involves medication used alone or in combination with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, pain relieving procedures, non-medical therapies and imagery.
  • Radiation Therapies – uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. This treatment may be used to destroy cancer cells that remain after surgery.
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses heat to kill lung, liver, and kidney tumors without harming the surrounding tissue.
  • Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment - uses ultrasound images to guide a very thin metal needle through the patient's skin into the tumor. Once inside the tumor, the needle is opened to extend extremely thin antennae-like probes in all directions from its tip. The radiofrequency energy that comes off the probe’s tips kills tumor cells.
  • Radioembolization provides the delivery of millions of microscopic radioactive glass beads directly into inoperable liver tumors through a tiny catheter steered into the artery that feeds the tumor. The beads become lodged within the tumor vessels, where they deliver the local radiation that causes tumor death.
  • State of Disease - Determined at first course of treatment. American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) Cancer Staging Manual is used except where otherwise indicated.
  • Stereotactic Radiotherapy - delivers a large, precise radiation dose to a small tumor area. Some tumors that started from or spread to the brain  are treated with this technique.
  • Survival Rates: 
    • Observed Survival Rate: The literal survival rate from counting each case in the Registry.
    • Relative Survival Rate: Survival rate that takes the normal life expectancy into account. This avoids the bias the figures may have with the majority of patients being older but having expired due to causes other than cancer.
  • TheraSphere® - TheraSphere uses millions of microscopic glass beads filled with a radioactive element. By inserting a catheter into the thigh and liver arteries, the beads are transported directly to the liver.
  • TomoTherapy Hi-Art System® - consists of a linear accelerator inside a large “donut” that spirals around the patient’s body while they lie on the table during treatment. The patient can receive radiation to a cancerous tumor while sparing the normal healthy tissue around it. It is the most precise method of treatment available. Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix was the first hospital in Arizona to use this.
  • Tumors:
    • In Situ
      Neoplasm (tumor) which fulfills all microscopic criteria for malignancy except invasion.
    • Localized
      Neoplasm (tumor) that appears entirely confined to the organ of origin.
    • Regional
      Neoplasm (tumor) has spread by direct extension to immediately adjacent organs or tissues and/or has metastasized to regional lymph nodes or organs and appears not to have spread any further.
    • Distant
      Neoplasm (tumor) has spread beyond immediately adjacent organs or tissues by direct extension and/or has either developed secondary or metastatic tumors, metastasized to distant lymph nodes, or has been determined to be systemic in origin.
    • Unknown or Not Recorded
      Tumor is said to be unknown when the state cannot be determined from the medical record or a medical authority.

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