Glossary of Terms

Adjuvant Chemotherapy:
Anticancer drugs or hormones given after surgery and/or radiation to help prevent the cancer from coming back.

Alopecia:
Hair loss

Androgens:
Hormones secreted by the testes and adrenals and which are responsible for male traits, body hair, deep voice, and sperm reproductions.

Anemia:
Having too few red blood cells. Symptoms of anemia include feeling tired, weak, and short of breath.

Antiemetic:
A medicine that prevents or controls nausea and vomiting.

Atypical Adenomatous Hyperplasia (AAH):
Precancerous condition of the prostate characterized by small, round, uniform, tightly packed glandular units (acini) with tiny excretory ducts branching off of normal, pre-existing ducts.

Benign:
Not malignant (cancerous)

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH):
Non-malignant excessive growth of prostate cells.

Biological Therapy:
Treatment to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight infection and disease; also called immunotherapy.

Biopsy:
Sample of tissue used for diagnostic purposes.

Blocks:
Lead alloy specifically shaped to spare normal tissue during radiation treatments. It is placed in the treatment machine (linear accelerator) or is inherent in the treatment machine.

Blood Cell Count:
The number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in a sample of blood. This is also called complete blood count (CBC).

Bone Marrow:
The inner, spongy tissue of bones where blood cells are made.

Bolus:
A gel-like substance that is laid upon skin surface to even out the radiation beam.

Bone Scan:
Nuclear medicine study used to locate areas of increased bone build up and degradation.

Brachytherapy:
Radiation therapy in which radioactive sources are inserted in or near a specific target. It is generally used for prostate and cervical cancers.

Breast Board:
An angled board the patient lies upon during radiation treatments. It is primarily used while treating breast cancer patients.

Bulbourethal Gland (Also Cowper’s Gland):
One of two male accessory glands producing ingredients for semen.

Calculus (Pl. calculi, also called a stone):
Prostatic concretion that has hardened from a calcium deposit.

Cancer:
A general term for more than 100 diseases in which abnormal cells grow out of control; a malignant tumor.

Carcinoma:
Cancer arising in visceral organs such as the lung, breast, colon and prostate.

Carcinoma in situ:
Last grade of a pre-malignant condition such as PIN or AAH before it crosses the basal cell layer and becomes invasive cancer.

Catheter:
A thin, flexible tube through which fluids enter or leave the body.

Central Venous Catheter:
A special thin, flexible tube placed in a large vein. It remains there as long as it is needed to deliver and withdraw fluids.

Chemotherapy:
The use of drugs to treat cancer.

Chromosomes:
Threadlike bodies found in the nucleus, or center part of a cell, that carry DNA, the information of heredity.

Clinical Trials:
Studies that test new medical treatments. Clinical trials are conducted with volunteers and concentrate on one of the following aspects of cancer: preventing cancer, treating cancer or improving the quality of life of patients with cancer.

Colony-Stimulating Factors:
Substances that stimulate the production of blood cells. Treatment with colony-stimulating factors (CSF) can help the blood-forming tissue recover from the effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. These include granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSF) and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factors (GM-CSF).

Combination Chemotherapy:
The use of more than one drug to treat cancer.

Cone-Down:
Usually describes a smaller radiation treatment field. A course of radiation treatments can be 1) Initial course, followed by 2) Cone-down #1, followed by 3) Cone-down #2. There are many reasons for using a coned-down field. The primary reason is to limit the dose to sensitive structures.

Core Biopsy:
Type of biopsy in which a needle cuts a cylindrically-shaped core from the target tissue.

Cowper’s Gland:
See Bulbourethral Gland.

Cryosurgical Ablation:
Experimental technology using liquid nitrogen to freeze cancer cells.

CT/Simulation:
Three dimensional (3-D) slices of internal anatomy used by radiation oncologists to accurately plan and treat cancer.

Cystoscopy:
Procedure in which a specialized scope is inserted into the bladder through the urethra.

Desquamation:
Peeling of the skin caused by radiation similar to a sun burn. Desquamation can be moist or dry.

Differentiation:
Refers to how closely cancer cells resemble the normal cells of an organ; or a measurement of the aggressiveness and malignant potential of a tumor.

Digital Rectal Examination (DRE):
Examination of the rectum and prostate with a gloved finger.

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT):
Active form of testosterone.

Diode:
A device placed on your skin to obtain measurement of a radiation treatment area, which is then verified by the medical physicist.

Diuretics:
Drugs that help the body get rid of excess water and salt.

Dysuria:
Painful urination.

Electrons:
A low energy form of radiation which is often used when treatment depths do not exceed a few centimeters (i.e.-skin lesions or scar boosts).

Estrogen Receptors:
Some breast cancer tumors need the hormone estrogen to grow. These tumors are called estrogen receptor positive. Hormonal therapy is used to block the effects of estrogen and stop or slow the growth and reproduction of breast cells.

External Beam Radiation:
Form of radiation therapy in which energy is delivered from an x-ray source outside the body (linear accelerator).

External Sphincter:
Band of muscle, downstream from internal sphincter, responsible for maintaining urinary continence.

Fine-Needle Aspiration (FNA):
Form of biopsy in which a cell sample is drawn through a thin needle rather than taking a piece of target tissue.

Foley Catheter:
A thin rubber tube with a balloon at one end and inserted into the bladder through the urethra to drain it of urine.

Frequency:
Abnormally frequent urination.

Frozen Section:
Rapid diagnostic study of surgically removed specimen used to help the surgeon decide whether an operation should continue.

Gastrointestinal:
The digestive tract, which includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines.

Gleason System:
Most frequently used grading system in prostate cancer.

Grade:
Measure of degree of differentiation or aggressiveness of a tumor.

Gynecomastia:
Formation of breasts in a male; a side effect of some prostate cancer treatments.

Hematuria:
Blood in urine.

HER-2/neu Oncogene (stands for human epidermal growth factor receptor-2):
A protein found on the surface of cancer cells. The amount of HER-2 protein in the tumor is measured in the laboratory using a scale from 0 (negative) to 3+ (strongly positive). This measurement helps the doctor determine whether a patient may benefit from treatment with Herceptin.

Hormones:
Substances produced by the endocrine glands of the body. Hormones are released directly into the bloodstream and have a specific effect on cells and organs in the body, stimulating or turning off their growth.

Incomplete Voiding:
Desire to urinate immediately after already doing so.

Infusion:
Slow and/or prolonged intravenous delivery of a drug or fluids.

Injection:
Using a syringe and needle to push fluids or drugs into the body; often called a “shot”.

Intra-Arterial (IA):
Into an artery.

Intracavitary (IC):
Into a cavity or space, specifically the abdomen, pelvis or chest.

Intralesional (IL):
Into the cancerous area in the skin.

Intramuscular (IM):
Into a muscle.

Intrathecal (IT):
Into the spinal fluid.

Intravenous (IV):
Into a vein.

Laparoscopic Pelvic Lymph Node Dissection (PLND):
Procedure in which the lymph nodes of the groin are sampled using a special scope.

Linear Accelerator:
A large machine that delivers high-dose ionizing radiation for therapeutic purposes.

Luteinizing Hormone-Releasing Hormone (LHRH):
Hormone produced by the hypothalamus in the brain. It is responsible for stimulating the pituitary into secreting LH.

Luteinizing Hormone-Releasing Hormone (LHRH) Agonist:
Hormonal therapy agent used to effect medical rather than surgical castration.

Malignant:
Used to describe a cancerous tumor.

Marks:
Non-permanent, painted-on marks that identify the area to be treated, or that assist the radiation therapist in the proper placement of the area to be treated. Sometimes these marks are not near the treated area. Sometimes they define the entire treated area. Your radiation therapist can give you more information regarding the marks you have. Usually you will be asked not to wash off the marks, as they are very important to your specific treatment.

Mask:
Plastic mold made for individual use during radiation treatments. Primarily used for head and neck cases to immobilize the patient and enhance the accuracy of treatment delivery.

Metastasis:
Collection of cancer cells that have spread from original tumor site to distant location.

Mucositis:
See stomatitis.

Neoadjuvant Therapy (Also Endocrine Downstaging):
Technique where hormonal therapy shrinks a tumor before surgery or radiation therapy begins.

Neoplasm:
New and abnormal growth or tumor.

Nonsteroidal Antiandrogen:
New type of hormonal therapy agent that prevents the binding of male hormone to its target and allows for preservation of sexual function in most cases.

Palliative Care:
Treatment to relieve, rather than cure, symptoms caused by cancer. Palliative care can help people live more comfortably.

Peripheral Neuropathy:
A condition of the nervous system that usually begins in the hands and/or feet with symptoms of numbness, tingling, burning and/or weakness; can be caused by certain anti-cancer drugs.

Per os (PO):
By mouth; orally.

Platelets:
Blood cells that help stop bleeding.

Port:
A small plastic or metal container surgically placed under the skin and attached to a central venous catheter inside the body. Blood and fluids can enter or leave the body through the port using a special needle.

Portal Films:
Images obtained during the course of your radiation treatments to verify the accuracy of the set-up and to document treatments.

Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA):
Protein produced by the prostate gland. The PSA level in blood is invaluable in helping to detect and treat prostate disease.

Radiation Therapy:
Cancer treatment with radiation (high-energy rays).

Red Blood Cells:
Cells that supply oxygen to tissues throughout the body.

Remission:
The partial or complete disappearance of signs and symptoms of cancer.

Sarcoma:
Cancer arising in skeletal building blocks, such as bone, muscle, cartilage and fibrous tissue.

Simulation:
Phase of radiation therapy when the radiation oncologist customizes treatment according to the individual area of the body and tumor that will receive radiation.

Stomatitis:
Sores on the lining of the mouth.

Staging:
Process in which tests and procedures are performed to determine stage of a given tumor.

Tattoos:
Permanent marks that accurately reflect the area to be irradiated.

TNM System:
Staging system frequently used in malignancies. However, it is not used often for prostate cancer.

Transrectual ultrasound (TRUS):
Diagnostic procedure whereby a probe is inserted into the rectum and computerized pictures are taken of the prostate using sound waves.

Treatment Planning:
A complex process aided by computers to accurately plan for the delivery of radiation treatments as prescribed by the Radiation Oncologist.

Tumor:
An abnormal growth of cells or tissues. Tumors may be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Wedge:
A device placed into the linear accelerator to help ensure the radiation dose is equal across varying body densities (or thicknesses).

White blood cells (WBCs):
The blood cells that fight infection.

If you have questions or would like more information about Covenant Cancer Treatment Center, please call: 319-272-2070 (Medical Oncology & Hematology) or 319-272-2800 (Radiation Oncology). We look forward to talking to you!