A through D


Acute: having rapid onset and running a short but severe course (as opposed to a chronic course, which may take much longer)

Adenocarcinoma: a cancer that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids. Many colon, endometrial and bladder cancers are adenocarcinomas.

Adjuvant therapy: any therapy that begins after surgery, or treatment given after the primary treatment to increase the chances of a cure. Adjuvant therapy may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or biological therapy.

Alternative medicine (also called complementary medicine): practices used instead of standard treatments. Alternative medicine includes dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, acupuncture, massage therapy, magnet therapy, spiritual healing, and meditation.

Anaplastic: cancer cells that divide rapidly and have little or no resemblance to normal cells.

Anemia: a condition in which the number of red blood cells is below normal.

Anticoagulants: also known as “blood thinners,” these drugs reduces the body’s clotting ability. Heparin is given by vein and warfarin is given orally.

Aspiration: removal of fluid or tissue through a needle.

Asymmetry: lack or absence of balanced proportions between parts of a thing.



Basal cell: a small, round cell found in the lower part (or base) of the outer layer of the skin.

Basal cell carcinoma: a type of skin cancer that arises from the basal cells.

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

Biomarkers: distinctive substances that indicates a particular disease is present.

Biopsy: the removal of cells or tissues for examination by a pathologist. The pathologist may study the tissue under a microscope or perform other tests on them.



Carcinogens: substances that can cause cancer.

Carcinoma: cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs.

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 a CT scan.

Cerebral spinal fluid: the fluid that flows in and around the hollow spaces of the brain and spinal cord, and between two of the meninges (the thin layers of tissue that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord).

Chemotherapy: the use of drugs to kill cancer cells.

Chemotherapy regimen: a combination of chemotherapy drugs.

Chronic: a chronic disease is a disease that is long-lasting or recurrent

Clotting factor: a protein needed for normal blood clotting. People born with hemophilia have little to no clotting factor.

Complementary medicine (also called alternative medicine): treatments used in addition to standard treatments. May include dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, acupuncture, massage therapy, magnet therapy, spiritual healing, and meditation.

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.



D&C: dilation and curettage. A procedure to remove tissue from the cervical canal or the inner lining of the uterus. The cervix is dilated and a curette—a spoon-shaped instrument—is inserted into the uterus to remove tissue.

Deep vein thrombosis: the formation of a blood clot deep within a vein.

Dermis: the lower or inner layer of the two main layers of tissue that make up the skin.

Desmoid tumor: a tumor of the tissue that surrounds muscles, usually in the abdomen. A desmoid tumor rarely spreads to other parts of the body (metastasizes). It may be called aggressive fibromatosis when the tumor is outside of the abdomen.

Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA): the molecule in every cell that controls how that cell grows and functions.