Cancer is not just one disease but many diseases. There are more than 100 different types of cancer and most are named for the organ or type of cell in which they start.
The breast is made up of lobes and ducts. Each breast has 15 to 20 sections called lobes, which have many smaller sections called lobules. Lobules end in dozens of tiny bulbs that can produce milk. The lobes, lobules, and bulbs are linked by thin tubes called ducts. The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which begins in the cells of these ducts.
Colorectal cancer includes both cancer of the colon and cancer of the rectum. One forms in the tissues of the colon which is the longest part of the large intestine. The other forms in the tissues of the rectum, the last several inches of the large intestine before the anus.
Click here for a listing and details of other cancer types.
Cancer Terms (click here for Cancer Types)
The removal of a small section of the tumor that will be analyzed to establish an exact diagnosis. A needle biopsy is a common procedure where a needle, sometimes a very fine needle is used to take a tiny sample of the tumor. Occasionally a surgeon may remove the whole tumor prior to diagnosis which is called a resection biopsy.
Blood lab work
Blood analysis to determine if the patient meets the parameters for treatment.
Computerized Axial Tomography creates a cross-sectional x-ray picture of a “slice” of the body. The machine rotates around the patient taking x-rays form different angles. The images are then processed by a computer.
A thin plastic line place into a vein in the chest used for the delivery of chemotherapy.
The use of drugs in the treatment of cancer. Chemo- means chemicals and most types of cancer chemotherapy consist of a number of different drugs which is known as combination chemotherapy.
Gamma rays which are reflected on a metal plate. X-rays can be taken of any area of the body, which can reveal suspicious areas.
An elongated flexible endoscope is used to permit visual examination of the entire colon.
Treatment to destroy the entire cancer.
Cytotoxic drugs kill or damage cells. An example of cytotoxic drugs is chemotherapy which is designed to kill cancer cells by stopping them from growing and multiplying.
A procedure to investigate or reveal an abnormality within the body.
Where normal cells go through physical changes in order to form the different specialized tissues of the body. Malignant cells may range from well-differentiated (closely resembling the tissue of origin) or undifferentiated (not similar to the tissue of origin). In general, undifferentiated cells are more aggressive.
Where tumor cells become resistant to chemotherapy. Some tumor cells will be chemo-sensitive and are killed by anticancer drugs. The cells that remain are likely to be more resistant to a particular drug, a class of drugs, or all drugs.
A special type of contrast enhanced mammography used for imaging the breast ducts. It can aid in diagnosing breast cancer.
A method of graphically recording the position and motion of the heart walls or the internal structures of the heart and surrounding tissue.
A graphic tracing of the variations in electrical potential caused by the excitation of the heart muscle and detected at the body surface.
Direction in which the area is being treated.
The branch of medicine that specializes in the study and treatment of blood and blood tissues.
The study of cells relating to the disease.
A machine that uses high power x-rays to give the treatment dose.
Cancerous, where the tumor grows uncontrollably and may spread.
Medical imaging is used in oncology to locate the presence of cancer by use of several different methods including x-ray, CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound.
Where the tumor has spread to other parts of the body beyond the primary site.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging used to determine if the biochemical activity of a tissue responds normally to magnetic forces. Tumors may give an abnormal signal.
A growth that starts from a single abnormal cell.
The branch of medicine that specializes in the study of tumors.
Treatments designed to relieve symptoms, such as pain.
The study of the disease.
Positron Emission Tomography, an imaging technique that assists physicians in the diagnosis and management of disease. This process produces pictures of the functions of the human body unobtainable by other imaging techniques.
Primary (Cancer) Site
The body part in which cancer first develops.
The expected outcome of a disease and its treatment. Depending on the particular type of cancer, prognosis may be influenced by a variety of factors such as stage, age, and site.
Treatment plan designed with the intention of improving therapy or decreasing side effects.
Radiation therapy field
The area towards which the radiation therapy is directed.
When the cancer is resistant to treatment.
When the disease reoccurs after a period of remission.
Where the symptoms of cancer are no longer present. There is no longer any evidence of the disease using the available investigation and detection techniques.
The complete or partial removal of a tumor during surgery.
Where the patient is staged again after a period of treatment to access the response to therapy.
Where the disease is categorized as to how far it has spread. The precise staging system used will depend on the type of cancer the patient has. In general, low stage patients are those with localized tumors that are more easily treatable while high stage patients are those with widespread metastases. The treatment given may largely depend upon which stage the patient is at diagnosis.
Any abnormal lump, bump, or mass of tissue that is related to disease
A substance in the body that may indicate the presence of cancer. Markers may be secreted by the tumor itself or produced by the body in response to the cancer. Tumor markers may aid diagnosis or give an indicator of how treatment is progressing.
Sound waves are used to image the underlying structures of the body. Ultrasonic waves are reflected differently depending on the type of tissue they pass through, aiding in the detection of abnormal tissues.