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Cancer Glossary - 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 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 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.
cachexia  
The loss of body weight and muscle mass frequently seen in patients with cancer, AIDS, or other diseases.
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  (kal-sih-TREE-ol)
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  (KAL-see-um)
A mineral found in teeth, bones, and other body tissues.
calcium carbonate  
A mineral taken primarily as a supplement to prevent osteoporosis. It is also being studied for cancer prevention.
caloric intake  
Refers to the number of calories (energy content) consumed.
calorie  
A measurement of the energy content of food. The body needs calories as "fuel" to perform all of its functions, such as breathing, circulating the blood, and physical activity. When a person is sick, their body may need extra calories to fight fever or other problems.
CAM  
Complementary and alternative medicine. Forms of treatment that are used in addition to (complementary) or instead of (alternative) standard treatments. These practices are not considered standard medical approaches. CAM includes dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, massage therapy, magnet therapy, spiritual healing, and meditation.
Campath-1H  
A monoclonal antibody used to treat leukemia. Monoclonal antibodies are made in the laboratory. They can find cancer cells and bind to them. 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 analogue  
An anticancer drug related in structure to camptothecin, a topoisomerase inhibitor. One such drug is aminocamptothecin.
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.
Cancer Information Service  
CIS. The Cancer Information Service is the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) 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) or by using the Web site at http://cis.nci.nih.gov.
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.
cancer vaccine  
A vaccine designed to prevent or treat cancer.
Cancer.gov  
A Web site providing cancer information from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Federal Government's principal agency for cancer research. Cancer.gov offers a wide range of cancer information, including information on treatment options, clinical trials, ways to reduce cancer risk, and ways to cope with cancer. Resources on support groups, financial assistance, educational materials, and information about the NCI are also available. Access Cancer.gov at http://cancer.gov/.
CancerNet  
A Web site providing cancer information from the National Cancer Institute, the Federal Government's principal agency for cancer research. CancerNet offers a wide range of cancer information, including information on treatment options, clinical trials, ways to reduce cancer risk, and ways to cope with cancer. Resources on support groups, financial assistance, educational materials, and more are also available. Access CancerNet at http://cancernet.nci.nih.gov.
cancerTrials  
A National Cancer Institute Web site that provides information and news about cancer research studies. The primary mission of cancerTrials is to help people consider clinical trials as an option when making cancer care decisions. Access cancerTrials at http://cancertrials.nci.nih.gov.
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.
CAP-1  
Carcinoembryonic antigen peptide-1. A protein that can stimulate an immune response.
capecitabine  
An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called antimetabolites.
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.
captopril  
A drug used to lower high blood pressure. 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.
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 belongs to the family of drugs called chemoprotective agents. It is used to neutralize the toxic effects of methotrexate.
carcinoembryonic antigen peptide-1  
CAP-1. A protein that can stimulate an immune response to certain tumors.
carcinogen  (kar-SIN-o-jin)
Any substance that causes cancer.
carcinogenesis  
The process by which normal cells are transformed into cancer cells.
carcinoid  (KAR-sin-oyd)
A type of tumor usually found in the gastrointestinal system (most often in the appendix), and sometimes in the lungs or other sites. Carcinoid tumors are usually benign.
carcinoma  (kar-sin-O-ma)
Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs.
carcinoma in situ  (kar-sin-O-ma in SYE-too)
Cancer that involves only the cells in which it began and that has not spread to neighboring tissues.
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).
carcinostatic  (KAR-sin-o-STAT-ik)
Pertaining to slowing or stopping the growth of cancer.
cardiac  
Having to do with the heart.
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.
carotenoids  
Substance found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables and in dark green, leafy vegetables. May reduce the risk of developing cancer.
cartilage  (KAR-tih-lij)
A type of connective tissue that contains cells (chondrocytes) surrounded by a tough but flexible matrix. The cartilage matrix is made of several types of the protein collagen and several types of proteoglycans, which are combinations of protein and long sugar molecules called glycosaminoglycans. Chondroitin sulfate is the major glycosaminoglycan in cartilage.
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.
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  
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, computed tomography (CT scan), or computerized tomography.
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  (KATH-i-ter)
A flexible tube used to deliver fluids into or withdraw fluids from the body.
cauterization  (KAW-ter-ih-ZAY-shun)
The destruction of tissue with a hot instrument, an electrical current, or a caustic substance.
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.
CC-1088  
A drug that is similar but not identical to thalidomide and is being studied as an anticancer drug. It belongs to the family of drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors.
CC-49 monoclonal antibody  
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.
CCI-779  
An anticancer drug that inhibits the growth of cancer cells by preventing cell division.
CD34 antigen  
A protein found on the surface of some bone marrow and blood cells.
CD40-ligand  
A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It binds to certain immune cells and may suppress cancer growth.
CEA  
Carcinoembryonic antigen. A substance that is sometimes found in an increased amount in the blood of people with certain cancers.
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.
cefepime  
A drug used to treat infection. It belongs to the family of drugs called cephalosporin antibiotics.
ceftriaxone  
An antibiotic 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 for cancer prevention.
cell  
The individual unit that makes up all of 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, or aerobic respiration.
cellular adhesion  
The close adherence (bonding) to adjoining cell surfaces.
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.
central nervous system  
CNS. The brain and spinal cord.
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.
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.
cephalosporins  
A family of antibiotic drugs that is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections.
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.
cerebellopontine  (SER-ah-BELL-o-PON-teen)
Going from the cerebellum (the part of the brain responsible for coordinating movement) to the pons (part of the central nervous system located near the base of the brain).
cerebellum  (sair-uh-BELL-um)
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 hemispheres  (seh-REE-bral HEM-iss-feerz)
The two halves of the cerebrum, the part of the brain that controls muscle functions of the body and also controls speech, emotions, reading, writing, and learning. The right hemisphere controls muscle movement on the left side of the body, and the left hemisphere controls muscle movement on the right side of the body.
cerebrospinal fluid  (seh-REE-bro-SPY-nal)
CSF. The fluid flowing around the brain and spinal cord. Cerebrospinal fluid is produced in the ventricles in the brain.
cerebrum  (seh-REE-brum)
The largest part of the brain. It is divided into two hemispheres, or halves, called the cerebral hemispheres. The cerebrum controls muscle functions of the body and also controls speech, 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 intraepithelial neoplasia  (SER-vih-kul in-tra-eh-pih-THEEL-ee-ul NEE-o-play-zha)
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.
cervix  (SER-viks)
The lower, narrow end of the uterus that forms a canal between the uterus and vagina.
cetuximab  
A type of monoclonal antibody being studied as an anticancer drug. Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-produced substances that can locate and bind to cancer cells.
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.
CGP 48664  
An anticancer drug that may inhibit the growth of some tumors.
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.
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.
chemoprevention  (KEE-mo-pre-VEN-shun)
The use of drugs, vitamins, or other agents to try to reduce the risk of, or delay the development or recurrence of, cancer.
chemoprevention studies  
In cancer prevention clinical trials, studies test whether taking certain medicines, vitamins, minerals, or food supplements can prevent cancer. Also called agent studies.
chemoprotective  
A quality of some drugs used in cancer treatment. Chemoprotective agents protect healthy tissue from the toxic effects of anticancer drugs.
chemosensitivity assay  
A laboratory test to analyze the responsiveness of a tumor to a specific drug.
chemosensitizer  
A drug that makes tumor cells more sensitive to the effects of chemotherapy.
chemotherapeutic agent  
A drug used to treat cancer.
chemotherapy  (kee-mo-THER-a-pee)
Treatment with anticancer drugs.
chest wall  
The muscles, bones, and joints that make up the area of the body between the neck and the abdomen.
chiasma  (ki-AZ-ma)
An anatomy term for an X-shaped crossing (for example, of nerves or tendons).
child-life worker  
A professional who is responsible for making a child's hospital and treatment experience less scary.
chlorambucil  
An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called alkylating agents.
chlorine  
A chemical used to disinfect water and as a bleach.
chloroquinoxaline sulfonamide  
CQS. A substance that is being studied as an anticancer drug.
cholangiosarcoma  (ko-LAN-jee-o-sar-KO-ma)
A tumor of the connective tissues of the bile ducts.
chondrocytes  
Cartilage cells. They make the structural components of cartilage.
chondroitin sulfate  
The major glycosaminoglycan (a type of sugar molecule) in cartilage.
chondrosarcoma  (KAHN-dro-sar-KO-ma)
A type of cancer that forms in cartilage.
chordoma  (kor-DO-ma)
A type of bone cancer that usually starts in the lower spinal cord.
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.
chromosome  (KRO-mo-some)
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 granulocytic leukemia  
A slowly progressing disease in which too many white blood cells are made in the bone marrow. Also called chronic myelogenous leukemia or chronic myeloid leukemia.
chronic leukemia  (KRAHN-ik)
A slowly progressing cancer of the blood-forming tissues.
chronic lymphoblastic lymphoma  
A slowly progressing disease in which too many immature white blood cells (called lymphoblasts) are found in the body.
chronic lymphocytic leukemia  
A slowly progressing disease in which too many white blood cells (called lymphocytes) are found in the body.
chronic myelogenous leukemia  
CML. A slowly progressing disease in which too many white blood cells are made in the bone marrow. Also called chronic myeloid leukemia or chronic granulocytic leukemia.
chronic myeloid leukemia  
CML. A slowly progressing disease in which too many white blood cells are made in the bone marrow. Also called chronic myelogenous leukemia or chronic granulocytic leukemia.
chronic pain  
Pain that can range from mild to severe, and persists or progresses over a long period of time.
chronic phase  (KRAHN-ik)
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 that may last from several months to several years. Although there may be no symptoms of leukemia, there are too many white blood cells.
CHS 828  
A drug that is being studied as a treatment for solid tumors.
CI-1033  
A substance that is being studied as a treatment for cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
CI-958  
A substance that is being studied as a treatment for cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called DNA-intercalating compounds.
CI-980  
An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called mitotic inhibitors. Also called mivobulin isethionate.
CI-994  
A substance that is being studied as an anticancer drug in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. Also called N-acetyldinaline.
cidofovir  
A drug used to treat infection caused by viruses.
cimetidine  
A drug usually used to treat stomach ulcers and heartburn. It is also commonly used in a regimen to prevent allergic reactions.
ciprofloxacin  
An anti-infection drug that is also being studied in bladder cancer chemotherapy.
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.
cirrhosis  
A type of chronic, progressive liver disease in which liver cells are replaced by scar tissue.
CIS  
Cancer Information Service. The CIS 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), or by using the Web site at http://cis.nci.nih.gov.
cisplatin  
An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called platinum compounds.
citric acid/potassium-sodium citrates  
A family of drugs 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 to treat infection. It belongs to the family of drugs called macrolides.
clavicle  
Collar bone.
clear cell carcinoma  (kar-sin-O-ma)
A rare type of tumor of the female genital tract in which the inside of the cells looks clear when viewed under a microscope.
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  
Having to do with the examination and treatment of patients.
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 research study in which patients receive treatment in a clinic or other medical facility. Reports of clinical studies can contain results for single patients (case reports) or many patients (case series or clinical trials).
clinical trial  
A research study that tests how well new medical treatments or other interventions work in people. The study tests new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a disease.
clodronate  
A drug used as treatment for hypercalcemia (abnormally high levels of calcium in the blood) and for cancer that has spread to the bone (bone metastases). It may decrease pain, the risk of fractures, and the development of new bone metastases.
CMA-676  
An anticancer drug used in the treatment of acute myelogenous leukemia.
CML  
Chronic myelogenous leukemia. A slowly progressing disease in which too many white blood cells are made in the bone marrow. Also called chronic granulocytic leukemia.
CMV  
Cytomegalovirus. 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.
CNS  
Central nervous system. The brain and spinal cord.
CNS metastases  
Cancer that has spread from the original (primary) tumor to the central nervous system.
CNS prophylaxis  (pro-fih-LAK-sis)
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.
CNS tumors  
Tumors of the central nervous system, including brain stem glioma, craniopharyngioma, medulloblastoma, and meningioma.
co-culture  
A mixture of two or more different kinds of cells that are grown together.
co-trimoxazole  
A combination of two anti-infection drugs, sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim. It is used to fight bacterial and protozoal infections.
coactivated T cells  
T cells that have been coated with monoclonal antibodies to enhance their ability to kill tumor cells.
cobalt 60  
A radioactive form of the metal cobalt, which is used as a source of radiation to treat cancer.
Cockayne syndrome  
A genetic condition characterized by short stature, premature aging, sensitivity to light, and possibly deafness and mental retardation.
COL-3  
An anticancer drug that may stop tumor growth by preventing the growth of new blood vessels into a solid tumor.
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  (ko-LEK-toe-mee)
An operation to remove the colon. An open colectomy is the removal of the colon through a surgical incision made in the wall of the abdomen. Laparoscopic-assisted colectomy uses a thin, lighted tube attached to a video camera. It allows the surgeon to remove the colon without a large incision.
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.
colon  (KO-lun)
The long, tube-like organ that is connected to the small intestine and rectum. The colon removes water and some nutrients and electrolytes from digested food. The remaining material, solid waste called stool, moves through the colon to the rectum and leaves the body through the anus. Also called the large intestine.
colon cancer  
A disease in which malignant (cancer) cells are found in the tissues of the colon.
colon polyps  
Abnormal growths of tissue in the lining of the bowel. Polyps are a risk factor for colon cancer.
colonoscope  (ko-LAHN-o-skope)
A thin, lighted tube used to examine the inside of the colon.
colonoscopy  (ko-lun-AHS-ko-pee)
An examination of the inside of the colon using a thin, lighted tube (called a colonoscope) inserted into the rectum. If abnormal areas are seen, tissue can be removed and examined under a microscope to determine whether disease is present.
colony-stimulating factors  
Substances that stimulate the production of blood cells. Colony-stimulating factors include granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (also called G-CSF and filgrastim), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factors (also called GM-CSF and sargramostim), and promegapoietin.
colorectal  (ko-lo-REK-tul)
Having to do with the colon or the rectum.
colostomy  (ko-LAHS-toe-mee)
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 for examination of the vagina and cervix.
colposcopy  (kul-PAHS-ko-pee)
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  
An anticancer drug that reduces the blood supply to tumors; it is a tubulin-binding agent.
comedo carcinoma  
A type of ductal carcinoma in situ (very early-stage breast cancer).
common bile duct  
Carries bile from the liver and gallbladder into the duodenum (the upper part of the small intestine).
compassionate use  
Refers to providing a drug to a patient on humanitarian grounds before the drug has received official approval.
complementary and alternative medicine  
CAM. Forms of treatment that are used in addition to (complementary) or instead of (alternative) standard treatments. These practices are not considered standard medical approaches. CAM includes dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, massage therapy, magnet therapy, spiritual healing, and meditation.
complementary medicine  
Practices not generally recognized by the medical community as standard or conventional medical approaches and used to enhance or complement the standard treatments. Complementary medicine includes the taking of dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, and herbal preparations; the drinking of special teas; and practices such as 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 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.
compound nevus  (KOM-pownd NEE-vus)
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 computed tomography (CT) scan or computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan of the colon.
computed tomography  (tuh-MAH-gra-fee)
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 computerized tomography and computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan.
computed tomography colography  
A method under study to examine the colon by taking a series of x-rays (called a CT scan) and then 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.
computerized axial tomography  (com-PYEW-ter-ized AX-ee-al tuh-MAH-gra-fee)
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 (CT scan), or 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 (CAT) scan and computed tomography (CT scan).
concurrent therapy  
A treatment that is given at the same time as another.
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.
condylomata acuminata  (kahn-dih-LO-ma-ta a-kyoo-mih-NA-ta)
Genital warts caused by certain human papillomaviruses (HPVs).
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.
congestive heart failure  
Weakness of the heart muscle that leads to a buildup of fluid in body tissues.
conization  (ko-nih-ZAY-shun)
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.
consolidation therapy  
Chemotherapy treatments given after induction chemotherapy to further reduce the number of cancer cells.
contiguous  
Touching or very close together.
continent reservoir  (KAHN-tih-nent RES-er-vwar)
A pouch formed from a piece of small intestine to hold urine after the bladder has been removed.
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.
continuous infusion  
The administration of a fluid into a blood vessel, usually over a prolonged period of time.
contralateral  
Having to do with the opposite side of the body.
control animals  
The animals in a study that do 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 study  
An experiment or clinical trial that includes a comparison (control) group.
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.
cooperative group  
A group of physicians, hospitals, or both formed to treat a large number of persons in the same way so that a new treatment can be evaluated quickly. Clinical trials of new cancer treatments often require many more people than a single physician or hospital can care for.
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.
corpus  
The body of the uterus.
corticosteroids  
Hormones that have antitumor activity in lymphomas and lymphoid leukemias; in addition, corticosteroids (steroids) may be used for hormone replacement and for the management of some of the complications of cancer and its treatment.
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.
CP-609,754  
A substance that is being studied as an anticancer drug.
CP4071  
A substance that is being studied as a treatment for cancer.
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 that is being studied as an anticancer drug.
craniopharyngioma  (KRAY-nee-o-fah-rin-jee-O-ma)
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  (kray-nee-AH-toe-mee)
An operation in which an opening is made in the skull.
creatinine  (cree-AT-ih-nin)
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.
crisnatol mesylate  
An anticancer drug that interferes with the DNA in cancer cells.
Crohn's disease  
Chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, most commonly the bowel. Crohn's disease increases the risk for colon cancer.
cruciferous vegetables  
A family of vegetables that includes kale, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and turnips. These vegetables contain substances that may protect against cancer.
cryosurgery  (KRYE-o-SIR-jer-ee)
Treatment performed with an instrument that freezes and destroys abnormal tissues.
cryotherapy  
Any method that uses cold temperature to treat disease.
cryptorchidism  (kript-OR-kid-izm)
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.
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 computerized tomography and computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan.
CT-2103  
A protein that can be linked to a chemotherapy drug to deliver the drug directly to the tumor with fewer side effects. It is being studied as a treatment for cancer.
CT-2584  
A drug that may prevent the growth of blood vessels from surrounding tissue into a solid tumor. It is being studied for its ability to treat cancer.
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 tomography (CT) scan or computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan of the colon.
cultured cell line  
Cells of a single type that have been grown in the laboratory for several generations (cell divisions).
cultured cells  
Animal or human cells that are grown in the laboratory.
curettage  (kyoo-reh-TAHZH)
Removal of tissue with a curette, a spoon-shaped instrument with a sharp edge.
curette  (kyoo-RET)
A spoon-shaped instrument with a sharp edge.
cutaneous  (kyoo-TAY-nee-us)
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.
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.
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  (sist)
A sac or capsule filled with fluid.
cystectomy  (sis-TEK-toe-mee)
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.
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  (SIS-toe-skope)
A thin, lighted instrument used to look inside the bladder and remove tissue samples or small tumors.
cystoscopy  (sist-OSS-ko-pee)
Examination of the bladder and urethra using a thin, lighted instrument (called a cystoscope) inserted into the urethra. Tissue samples can be removed and examined under a microscope to determine whether disease is present.
cytarabine  
An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called antimetabolites.
cytokines  
A class of substances that are 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.
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 cells  
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.

 

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