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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-kit (Ckit, CD117)
An abbreviation of the chemical name of an enzyme (protein) necessary for proliferation of certain cancers (GIST tumors, CML, a few neuroendocrine tumors and possibly other uncommon cancers).
CA 19-9 assay
A test that measures the level of CA 19-9 in the blood. CA 19-9 is a tumor marker released into the bloodstream from both cancer cells and normal cells. Higher than normal amounts of CA 19-9 in the blood can be a sign of gallbladder or pancreatic cancer or other conditions.CA 19-9
CA-125 test
A blood test that measures the level of CA-125, a substance found in blood, other body fluids and some tissues. Increased levels of CA-125 may be a sign of cancer.
Cachexia
Loss of body weight and muscle mass, and weakness that may occur in patients with cancer, AIDS, or other chronic diseases.
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.
Calcium
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
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, his or her 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.
Cancer
Cancer involves the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that have mutated from normal tissues. This growth can kill when these cells prevent normal function of vital organs or spread throughout the body, damaging essential systems. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body. There are at least 200 different kinds of cancers.
Cancer in situ
The stage where the cancer is still confined to the tissue in which it started.
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, moniliasis, or thrush.
Capecitabine (brand name Xeloda® tablets)
An anticancer drug.
Capsule; Wireless Capsule Endoscopy
"The Camera in a Pill" Wireless capsule endoscopy (WCE) is a noninvasive procedure in which a small capsule containing a video camera, light, transmitter, and batteries is swallowed and passed through the GI tract while video recording the mucosa of the small bowel. These images are transmitted by a radiofrequency signal to a data recorder attached to the patient’s waist. After approximately eight hours the capsule is excreted and the recorded data is downloaded to a computer where, with the use of software, it can be viewed, edited and reported. Wireless capsule endoscopy is intended for patients with small bowel disease who have obscure bleeding, in addition to GI symptoms such as abdominal pain and diarrhea, and whose diagnosis remains unknown following standard radiology and endoscopy.
Carbohydrate
A sugar molecule. Carbohydrates can be small and simple (for example, glucose) or they can be large and complex (for example, polysaccharides such as starch, chitin or cellulose).
Carbon-11 acetate
A radioactive form of carbon that is used in positron emission tomography (PET) scanning.
Carboplatin (brand name Paraplatin®)
Carboplatin (KAR-boe-pla-tin) belongs to the group of medicines known as alkylating agents. It is used to treat cancer of the ovaries. It may also be used to treat other kinds of cancer, as determined by your doctor. Carboplatin interferes with the growth of cancer cells, which eventually are destroyed.
Carcinogen
A substance that causes cancer. For example, nicotine in cigarettes is a carcinogen that causes lung cancer.
Carcinoid (cancer, tumor)
A type of cancer that is usually slow growing and arises from special endocrine cells widely scattered throughout the body. These cells are most commonly found in the gastrointestinal system and the lungs and in other sites. Carcinoid tumors are potentially malignant and can, at times, spread to nearby lymph nodes, the liver, and elsewhere. They may secrete potent substances such as serotonin, prostaglandins, histamine, and other hormones which can affect the cardiovascular and digestive systems causing the carcinoid syndrome. See below for information about typical vs atypical carcinoids. The two types are distinguished from each other by their appearance under the microscope. Typical carcinoid (TC): Typical carcinoids are nine times as common as atypical ones. Typical carcinoids grow slowly. Atypical carcinoid (AC): Atypical carcinoid is faster growing than typical carcinoid. Atypical carcinoid (AC) is an intermediate form of tumor between low-grade malignant typical carcinoid (TC) and high-grade malignant small cell carcinoma (SCC), which represent the two ends of the spectrum of neuroendocrine tumors. Nonfunctioning carcinoids can be detected similarly to other space-occupying lesions, eg, by angiography, CT, or MRI, depending on the site. Small-bowel carcinoids may exhibit filling defects or other abnormalities on barium X-ray studies. Definitive diagnosis is made histologically. Functioning carcinoids are suspected on the basis of the symptoms and signs, and diagnosis is confirmed by demonstrating increased urinary excretion of the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA).
Carcinoid crisis
Carcinoid crisis and pseudoanaphylactic reactions: Carcinoid crisis is when all of the symptoms of carcinoid syndrome come at the same time. Carcinoid crisis is the most serious and life-threatening complication of carcinoid syndrome, and is generally found in people who already have carcinoid syndrome.The crisis may occur suddenly, or it can be associated with stress, chemotherapy, or anesthesia. It is characterized by abrupt flushing of face and sometimes upper body, usually severe falls in blood pressure and even bronchospasm with wheezing can (infrequently) occur. The attack may look like an anaphylactic attack. Diarrhea is an important part of carcinoid syndrome but is not usually simultaneous with the carcinoid crisis. It more commonly occurs as part of the anaphylactic reaction of an allergic or pseudoallergic reaction. Standard allergy tests are not usually positive in such cases. 24-hour urine histamine, blood histamine and blood tryptase tests, particularly if obtained at time of attack or just afterwards will establish diagnosis. Of allergic or pseudo allergic so called idiopathic anaphylactic attacks and mast cell disease.Epinephrine will provoke - not help carcinoid attacks. Urine 5HIAA is helpful when positive but if depended on as the sole chemical test for carcinoid syndrome will miss 50% of cases! Better also to measure blood serotonin, tryptophan and chromogranin A. Other blood markers associated with rare cases of severe attacks of flushing, diarrhea and fall in blood pressure are VIP, calcitonin and gastrin. They too should be measured. If any or all of the above are positive, further elaborate tests and treatment will be needed with details depending on which test(s) are positive. A carcinoid crisis may be prevented and successfully treated with octreotide, a therapy that can increase low blood pressure and control the production of hormones.
Carcinoid heart disease
Cardiac manifestation of malignant carcinoid syndrome. It is a unique form of fibrosis involving the endocardium, primarily of the right heart. The fibrous deposits tend to cause constriction of the tricuspid and pulmonary valves. Serotonin excretion plays a role in the development of carcinoid heart disease (CHD), but the exact pathogenesis is not known.
Carcinoid syndrome
A combination of symptoms caused by release into the circulation of excessive amounts of serotonin and other hormonal substances from some carcinoid tumors. Symptoms may include flushing of the face, diarrhea, bronchial spasms (wheezing), rapid pulse, and sudden blood pressure changes (usually a fall) along with other symptoms of heart failure. Carcinoid syndrome is often mistaken for common diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcer, lupus, asthma, or menopause.
Carcinoma
A malignant tumor that arises from epithelium, found in skin and the lining of body organs; for example, breast, prostate, lung, stomach or bowel. Carcinomas tend to infiltrate into adjacent tissue and spread (metastasize) to distant organs, such as bones, liver, lung, or the brain.
Carcinomatosis (Carcinosis)
A condition in which cancer is spread widely throughout the body, or, in some cases, to a relatively large region of the body. Also called carcinosis.
Cardiac
Having to do with the heart
Cardiomegaly
An enlargement of the heart.
Cardiopulmonary
Having to do with the heart and lungs.
Cardiovascular
Having to do with the heart and blood vessels.
CAT scan (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 axial tomography, computed tomography (CT scan), or computerized tomography.
Catecholamine(s)
Any of several compounds occurring naturally in the body that serve as hormones or as neurotransmitters in the sympathetic nervous system . The catecholamines include such compounds as epinephrine or adrenaline, norepinephrine, and dopamine
Catheter
A flexible tube used to deliver fluids into or withdraw fluids from the body.
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.
CCNU® (generic name lomustin)
Lomustine (loe-MUS-teen) belongs to the group of medicines known as alkylating agents. It is used to treat some kinds of cancer. Lomustine is available as capsules.
CEA (Carcinoembryonic antigen)
Carcinoembryonic antigen. A substance that is sometimes found in an increased amount in the blood of people who have certain cancers, other diseases, or who smoke. It is used as a tumor marker for colorectal cancer.
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.
Cecum
A pouch that forms the first part of the large intestine. It connects the small intestine to the colon, which is part of the large intestine.
Celiac disease
A digestive disease that is caused by an immune response to a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Celiac disease damages the lining of the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. A person with celiac disease may become malnourished no matter how much food is consumed.
Cell proliferation
An increase in the number of cells as a result of cell growth and cell division.
Cellulitis
An acute, spreading infection of the deep tissues of the skin and muscle that causes the skin to become warm and tender and may also cause fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and blisters.
Centimeter
A measure of length in the metric system. A centimeter is one hundredth of a meter. There are 2½ centimeters in an inch.
Central nervous system (CNS)
The brain and spinal cord.
Central venous catheter
A special intravenous tubing that is surgically inserted into a large vein near the heart and exits from the chest or abdomen. The catheter allows medications, fluids, or blood products to be given and blood samples to be taken.
Cervical nodes
Lymph nodes in the neck.
Cervix
The lower, narrow end of the uterus that forms a canal between the uterus and vagina.
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. If done in the liver it is called hepatic artery chemo embolization (also known as HACE).
Chemotherapy
The treatment of cancer with drugs. Adjuvant chemotherapy Chemotherapy given to kill any remaining cancer cells, usually after all  detectable tumor is removed by surgery or radiotherapy. Combination chemotherapy The use of more than one drug during cancer treatment.
Cholestasis
Any condition in which the release of bile from the liver is blocked. The blockage can occur in the liver (intrahepatic cholestasis) or in the bile ducts (extrahepatic cholestasis).
Chromogranin A (CgA)
A blood tumor marker used for detection of certain cancers. Chromogranin A is considered the best general neuroendocrine serum or plasma marker available both for diagnosis and therapeutic evaluation and is increased in 50-100% of patients with various neuroendocrine tumors. Chromogranin A serum or plasma levels reflect tumor load, and it may be an independent marker of prognosis in patients with midgut carcinoids. The measurement of CgA is considered "the gold standard" of chemical tests for confirming the diagnosis of carcinoid and neuroendocrine tumors and following their course.
Chronic
Persisting over a long period of time.
Cipro®
A drug used to treat infections caused by bacteria. It is also being studied in the treatment of bladder cancer. Cipro belongs to the family of drugs called fluoroquinolones. Also called ciprofloxacin.
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.
Cisplatin (brand name Platinol®)
An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called platinum compounds.
Clinical trial
A type of research study that uses volunteers to test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a disease. The trial may be carried out in a clinic or other medical facility. Also called a clinical study.
CNS
Central nervous system. The brain and spinal cord.
Cobalamine (B12)
A vitamin that is needed to make red blood cells and DNA (the genetic material in cells), and to keep nerve cells healthy. It is found in eggs, meat, poultry, shellfish, milk, and milk products. Cobalamine, along with folate, may be given to help reduce side effects in cancer patients being treated with drugs called antimetabolites. Also called vitamin B12.
Coenzyme Q10
A substance found in most tissues in the body, and in many foods. It can also be made in the laboratory. It is used by the body to produce energy for cells, and as an antioxidant. It is being studied in the treatment of cancer and in the relief of side effects caused by some cancer treatments. Also called Q10, CoQ10, vitamin Q10, and ubiquinone.
Colectomy
An operation to remove all or part of the colon. When only part of the colon is removed, it is called a partial colectomy. In an open colectomy, one long incision is made in the wall of the abdomen and doctors can see the colon directly. In a laparoscopic-assisted colectomy, several small incisions are made and a thin, lighted tube attached to a video camera is inserted through one opening to guide the surgery. Surgical instruments are inserted through the other openings to perform the surgery.
Colitis
Inflammation of the colon.
Collision tumors
An area of mixing of malignant cells from two distinct tumors (such as a carcinoma and a sarcoma) that have developed separately but near each other.
Colonoscopy
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.
Colostomy
A surgical procedure by which an opening is created between the colon and the outside of the abdomen to allow stool to be emptied into a collection bag.
Common bile duct
Carries bile from the liver and gallbladder into the duodenum (the upper part of the small intestine).
Comorbidity
The condition of having two or more diseases at the same time.
Compassionate use trial
A way to provide an investigational therapy to a patient who is not eligible to receive that therapy in a clinical trial, but who has a serious or life-threatening illness for which other treatments are not available. Also called expanded access trial.
Complete protein
A "complete" protein contains all nine of the essential amino acids in sufficient amount for maintenance of of body and for a normal rate of growth. Animal foods are the best source of complete proteins.
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.
Computed tomography (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.
Congestive heart failure
A buildup of fluid in the lungs or extremities, or both (especially the legs). This occurs if the heart cannot pump the blood adequately.
Core biopsy
The removal of a tissue sample with a needle for examination under a microscope.
Corticosteroid
A hormone that has antitumor activity in lymphomas and lymphoid leukemias. Corticosteroids (steroids) may also 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.
COX-2 inhibitor
Cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to relieve pain and inflammation. COX-2 inhibitors are being studied in the prevention of colon polyps, and as anticancer drugs.
CPT 111 / irinotecan (Camptosar®)
An anticancer drug that belongs to a family of drugs called topoisomerase inhibitors. It is a camptothecin analogue. Also called irinotecan.
Creatinine
A compound that is excreted from the body in urine. Creatinine levels are measured to monitor kidney function
Crohn’s disease (IBD)
Crohn's disease is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. The disease most commonly occurs in the ileum (the area where the small and large intestine joins the colon), but the colon and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract may be affected as well; includes thickening of the intestinal wall. Crohn's disease increases the risk for colorectal and small intestine cancer.
Cryosurgery
Treatment performed with an instrument that freezes and destroys abnormal tissues.
Cutaneous
Having to do with the skin.
Cyanosis
Blue-colored skin caused by too little oxygen in the blood.
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.
Cyproheptadine
A drug that is used to treat asthma, allergies, and colds, and to relieve itching caused by certain skin disorders. It has also been used to stimulate appetite and weight gain, and is being studied in the treatment of weight loss caused by cancer and its treatment. Cyproheptadine belongs to the family of drugs called antihistamines.
Cyst
An accumulation of fluid or semisolid material within a sac.
Cytoreductive (surgery,therapy) (debulking)
Surgery done when cancer has spread in the pelvic/abdominal area, to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Example of such procedures are: embolization; chemoembolization; thermo- or cryotherapy, or radio-receptor therapy.