Cancer glossary

classroom activity.

Cancer glossary

Palliation (palliative treatment)

Treatment to relieve cancer symptoms or treament-related side-effects such as pain.
Palliation is meant to increase comfort or quality-of-life, not to treat the cancer itself.

Immunotherapy

Treatment that uses substances or chemicals to stimulate the body’s immune system to help fight infection or cancer growth.
Some immunotherapies target specific cells of the immune system, while others affect the immune system in a genaral way.

Chemotherapy

The use of medical drugs to kill cancer cells and shrink cancer tumours.
Chemotherapy can be administered by mouth, injection, infusion, or on the skin.
Chemotherapy is also harmful to normal cells.

Radiotherapy (radiation therapy)

The use of high-energy radiation such as x-rays, gamma rays, or other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink cancer tumours.
Radiation can come from a machine or from radioactive material placed in the body near the cancer cells.
Radiotherapy is also harmful to normal cells.

Leukemia

Cancer of the blood and blood-forming organs (bone-marrow) characterised by the abnormal accumulation of white-blood cells called leukocytes.

Lymphoma

Cancer of the lymphatic tissue (immune system) involving white-blood cells called lymphocytes.

Melanoma

Cancer that begins in the melanocytes (skin pigment cells) and spreads to other skin cells. Melanoma looks like a new or growing mole.

Sarcoma

Cancers that affect bones or soft tissues of the body such as muscles, fat, cartilage, or blood vessels, and the lining of joints.

Carcinoma

Cancer that affects the epidermis (lower layer of skin), or the lining tissue of internal organs.

Blastoma

Tumours composed of very immature cells such as those found in very young children.

Relapse

When cancer symptoms and signs re-occur after a period of being in remission.

Remission

Decrease or disappearance of the signs of cancer after treatment, cancer cells may still be present in the body, though. After five years of complete remission (no symptoms or evidence of disease), cancer is considered successfully managed.

Malignant

Cancer growth or tumour that is actively spreading

Biopsy

A small sample of a suspected cancererous tumour or lump is taken out and tested for cancer cells.

Metastasis

When cancer cells migrate from the initial location of growth to another location in the body, eg. from the lungs to the liver.

Tumour

A mass of tissue that is not inflamed, arising from cells of existing tissues, and serving no useful purpose.

Cancer

The uncontrolled growth of cells that, left untreated, would be fatal.