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Cancer Glossary - N

N-acetylcysteine  
An antioxidant drug that may keep cancer cells from developing or reduce the risk of growth of existing cancer.
N-acetyldinaline  
A substance that is being studied as an anticancer drug in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. Also called CI-994.
naloxone  
A substance that is being studied as a treatment for constipation caused by narcotic medications. It belongs to the family of drugs called narcotic antagonists.
narcotic  
An agent that causes insensibility or stupor; usually refers to opioids given to relieve pain.
nasal  
By or having to do with the nose.
nasopharynx  (NAY-zo-fair-inks)
The upper part of the throat behind the nose. An opening on each side of the nasopharynx leads into the ear.
National Cancer Institute  
NCI. The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, is the Federal Government's principal agency for cancer research. NCI conducts, coordinates, and funds cancer research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer. Access the NCI Web site at http://cancer.gov.
National Institutes of Health  
NIH. The National Institutes of Health, the focal point of biomedical research in the United States, conducts research in its own laboratories; supports the research of non-Federal scientists in universities, medical schools, hospitals, and research institutions throughout the country and abroad; helps in the training of research investigators; and fosters communication of medical information. Access the NIH Web site at http://www.nih.gov.
natural killer cells  
NK cells. A type of white blood cell that contains granules with enzymes that can kill tumor cells or microbial cells. Also called large granular lymphocytes.
NCI  
National Cancer Institute. NCI, part of the National Institutes of Health of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, is the Federal Government's principal agency for cancer research. NCI conducts, coordinates, and funds cancer research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer. Access the NCI Web site at http://cancer.gov.
nebulizer  
A device used to turn liquid into a fine spray.
neck dissection  (dye-SEK-shun)
Surgery to remove lymph nodes and other tissues in the neck.
necrosis  (ne-KRO-sis)
Refers to the death of living tissues.
needle biopsy  
The removal of tissue or fluid with a needle for examination under a microscope. Also called fine-needle aspiration.
negative axillary lymph nodes  
Lymph nodes in the armpit that are free of cancer.
negative test result  
A test result that fails to show the specific disease or condition for which the test was being done.
nelfinavir mesylate  
A drug that interferes with the ability of a virus to make copies of itself.
neoadjuvant therapy  
Treatment given before the primary treatment. Examples of neoadjuvant therapy include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy.
neoplasia  (NEE-o-PLAY-zha)
Abnormal and uncontrolled cell growth.
neoplasm  
A new growth of benign or malignant tissue.
neoplastic meningitis  
Tumor cells that have spread from the original (primary) tumor to the tissue that covers the brain, spinal cord, or both.
nephrectomy  (nef-REK-toe-mee)
Surgery to remove a kidney. Radical nephrectomy removes the kidney, the adrenal gland, nearby lymph nodes, and other surrounding tissue. Simple nephrectomy removes only the kidney. Partial nephrectomy removes the tumor but not the entire kidney.
nephrotomogram  (nef-ro-TOE-mo-gram)
A series of x-rays of the kidneys. The x-rays are taken from different angles and show the kidneys clearly, without the shadows of the organs around them.
nephrotoxic  
Poisonous or damaging to the kidney.
nerve block  
A procedure in which medicine is injected directly into or around a nerve or into the spine to block pain.
neural  
Having to do with nerves or the nervous system, including the brain and the spinal cord.
neuroblastoma  
Cancer that arises in immature nerve cells and affects mostly infants and children.
neuroectodermal tumor  
A tumor of the central or peripheral nervous system.
neuroendocrine  (NOO-ro-EN-do-krin)
Having to do with the interactions between the nervous system and the endocrine system. Neuroendocrine describes certain cells that release hormones into the blood in response to stimulation of the nervous system.
neuroendocrine tumor  
A tumor derived from cells that release a hormone in response to a signal from the nervous system. Some examples of neuroendocrine tumors are carcinoid tumors, islet cell tumors, medullary thyroid carcinoma, and pheochromocytoma. These tumors secrete hormones in excess, causing a variety of symptoms.
neurologic  
Having to do with nerves or the nervous system.
neurologist  (noo-ROL-o-jist)
A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the nervous system.
neuroma  (noo-RO-ma)
A tumor that arises in nerve cells.
neuropathy  
A problem in any part of the nervous system except the brain and spinal cord. Neuropathies can be caused by infection, toxic substances, or disease.
neuropeptide  
A member of a class of protein-like molecules made in the brain. Neuropeptides consist of short chains of amino acids, with some functioning as neurotransmitters and some functioning as hormones.
neurosurgeon  (NOO-ro-SER-jun)
A doctor who specializes in surgery on the brain, spine, and other parts of the nervous system.
neurotoxicity  
The tendency of some treatments to cause damage to the nervous system.
neurotoxin  
A substance that is poisonous to nerve tissue.
neurotropism  
An ability to invade and live in neural tissue. This term is usually used to describe the ability of viruses to infect nerve tissue.
neutropenia  
An abnormal decrease in the number of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell.
neutrophil  (NOO-tro-fil)
A type of white blood cell.
nevus  (NEE-vus)
A benign growth on the skin, such as a mole. A mole is a cluster of melanocytes and surrounding supportive tissue that usually appears as a tan, brown, or flesh-colored spot on the skin. The plural of nevus is nevi (NEE-vye).
NG-monomethyl-L-arginine  
An amino acid derivative used to counteract high blood pressure caused by interleukin-2.
niacinamide  
A vitamin being studied to increase the effect of radiation therapy on tumor cells. Also called nicotinamide.
nicotinamide  
A vitamin being studied to increase the effect of radiation therapy on tumor cells. Also called niacinamide.
NIH  
National Institutes of Health. NIH, the focal point of biomedical research in the UnitedStates, conducts research in its own laboratories; supports the research of non-Federal scientists in universities, medical schools, hospitals, and research institutions throughout the country and abroad; helps in the training of research investigators; and fosters communication of medical information. Access the NIH Web site at http://www.nih.gov.
nilutamide  
A drug that blocks the effects of male hormones in the body. It belongs to the family of drugs called antiandrogens.
nimodipine  
Belongs to a family of drugs called calcium channel blockers. It is being investigated for use with anticancer drugs to prevent or overcome drug resistance and improve response to chemotherapy.
nipple discharge  
Fluid coming from the nipple.
nitric acid  
A toxic, corrosive, colorless liquid used to make fertilizers, dyes, explosives, and other chemicals.
nitrocamptothecin  
An alkaloid drug belonging to a class of anticancer agents called topoisomerase inhibitors.
nitrosoureas  (nye-TRO-so-yoo-REE-ahz)
A group of anticancer drugs that can cross the blood-brain barrier. Carmustine and lomustine are nitrosoureas.
NK cells  
Natural killer cells. A type of white blood cell that contains granules with enzymes that can kill tumor cells or microbial cells. Also called large granular lymphocytes.
NMRI  
Nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. A procedure in which a magnet linked to a computer is used to create detailed pictures of areas inside the body.
node-negative  
Cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes.
node-positive  
Cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes.
nodular parenchyma  
A small mass of tissue within a gland or organ that carries out the specialized functions of the gland or organ.
nodule  (NOD-yool)
A growth or lump that may be cancerous or noncancerous.
nolatrexed  
An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called thymidylate synthase inhibitors. Also called AG337.
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma  
A group of cancers of the lymphoid system, including acute lymphoblastic leukemia, B-cell lymphoma, Burkitt's lymphoma, diffuse cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, immunoblastic large cell lymphoma, lymphoblastic lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma, mycosis fungoides, post-transplantation lymphoproliferative disorder, small non-cleaved cell lymphoma, and T-cell lymphoma.
non-small cell lung cancer  
A group of lung cancers that includes squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.
nonblinded  
Describes a clinical trial or other experiment in which the researchers know what treatments are being given to each study subject or experimental group. If human subjects are involved, they know what treatments they are receiving.
nonconsecutive case series  
A clinical study that includes some, but not all, of the eligible patients identified by the researchers during the study registration period. This type of study does not usually have a control group.
nonhematologic cancer  
Cancer that does not begin in the blood or bone marrow.
nonmalignant  
Not cancerous.
nonmalignant hematologic disorders  
Disorders of the blood, some of which lead to leukemia.
nonmelanoma skin cancer  
Skin cancer that arises in basal cells or squamous cells but not in melanocytes (pigment-producing cells of the skin).
nonmelanomatous  
Having to do with skin cancer that develops in basal cells or squamous cells but not in melanocytes (pigment-producing cells of the skin).
nonmetastatic  
Cancer that has not spread from the primary (original) site to other sites in the body.
nonopioid  
A drug that is not an opioid. Examples include acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as aspirin and ibuprofen.
nonprescription  
A medicine that can be bought without a doctor's order. Examples include some analgesics (pain relievers). Also called over-the-counter (OTC).
nonrandomized clinical trial  
A clinical trial in which the participants are not assigned by chance to different treatment groups. Participants may choose which group they want to be in, or they may be assigned to the groups by the researchers.
nonseminoma  (non-sem-ih-NO-ma)
A group of testicular cancers that begin in the germ cells (cells that give rise to sperm). Nonseminomas are identified by the type of cell in which they begin and include embryonal carcinoma, teratoma, choriocarcinoma, and yolk sac carcinoma.
nonsmall cell adenocarcinoma  (...ADD-in-o-KAR-sin-O-ma)
A type of cancer that begins in the glandular cells that line certain internal organs and most commonly affects the lungs. It is diagnosed by the way the cells appear under a microscope.
nonspecific immune cells  
Cells such as phagocytes and macrophages that respond to many antigens, not just one antigen.
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs  
NSAIDs. A group of drugs that decrease fever, swelling, pain, and redness.
nontoxic  
Not harmful or destructive.
novobiocin  
An antibiotic drug used to treat infection.
NR-LU-10 antigen  
A protein found on the surface of some cancers.
NSAIDs  
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. A group of drugs that decrease fever, swelling, pain, and redness.
nuclear grade  
An evaluation of the size and shape of the nucleus in tumor cells and the percentage of tumor cells that are in the process of dividing or growing. Cancers with low nuclear grade grow and spread less quickly than cancers with high nuclear grade.
nuclear magnetic resonance imaging  
NMRI. A procedure in which a magnet linked to a computer is used to create detailed pictures of areas inside the body.
nuclear medicine scan  
A method of diagnostic imaging that uses very small amounts of radioactive material. The patient is injected with a liquid that contains the radioactive substance, which collects in the part of the body to be imaged. Sophisticated instruments detect the radioactive substance in the body and process that information into an image.
nutrient  
A chemical compound (such as protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins, or minerals) that make up foods. These compounds are used by the body to function and grow.
nutrition  
The taking in and use of food and other nourishing material by the body. Nutrition is a 3-part process. First, food or drink is consumed. Second, the body breaks down the food or drink into nutrients. Third, the nutrients travel through the bloodstream to different parts of the body where they are used as "fuel" and for many other purposes. To give the body proper nutrition, a person has to eat and drink enough of the foods that contain key nutrients.
nutritionist  
A health professional with special training in nutrition who can offer help with the choice of foods a person eats and drinks. Also called a dietitian.
nystatin  
A drug that treats infections caused by fungi.

 

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