Norfolk Center for Cancer Care and Hematology
 

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Patient Education

Glossary of Cancer Terms and Phrases

Mary DePasquale
Our practice administrator, Mary DePasquaie, is part of a dedicated team working relentlessly for your cause.
Biotherapy:
Treatment to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight infection and disease. Also known as immunotherapy or biological therapy, it can also alleviate the side effects of some cancer treatments.

Cancer survivor:
Anyone who has been diagnosed wth cancer, from diagnosis to end of life, is considered a cancer survivor.

Chemotherapy:
Treatment with medication to destroy cancer cells. It is a systematic treatment that reaches every organ of the body through the bloodstream. Chemotherpy is sometimes given orally, but more commonly by injection, into a vein or muscle.

Clinical trial:
Research study that tests how well a new drug or treatment approach works in patients. The trial seeks to answer scientific questions and to find better ways to prevent or treat cancer.

Combination therapy:
The concurrent use of more than one therapy to treat cancer.

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Dietician:
A specialist trained to prescribe specific diets or additions to your diet.

Goal of therapy:
The result that you and your doctor want to achieve from your treatment.

Hormonal therapy:
Treatment or prevention of cancer by removing, blocking, or adding hormones that affect the growth of a tumor.

Informed Consent:
The process in which a person learns key facts about a clinical trial and voluntarily agrees to take part in it by signing a consent form describing the potential risks and benefits of treatment.

Infusion:
Slow and/or prolonged delivery of a drug or fluids through a vein or artery.

Metastasis:
The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another.

Oncologist:
A doctor who specializes in treating cancer.

Oncology nurse:
A nurse with special training in caring for cancer patients and administering cancer treatments.

Oncology pharmacist:
A pharmacist who specializes in preparing and dispensing cancer drugs and who can provide information about how a drug works or its side effects.

Protocol:
An action plan for a clinical trial. The plan describes what will be done in the study and why. It outlines how many people will take part in the study, what types of patients may take part, what tests they will receive and how often, and the treatment plan.

Radiation therapy:
A treatment method that uses high-energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells.

Self-advocate:
Working on behalf of oneself to take an active role in one's own cancer care treatment.

Side effects:
Signs or symptoms that can occur due to treatment with a certain drug. Common side effects of cancer treatments may include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss, numbness or tingling in the extremities, rash, mouth sores, and changes in taste.

Social worker:
A professional who works with patients to help them benefit from emotional, financial and other resources that they may need during the course of their cancer care.

Stage:
A term used to describe the extent of a cancer and whether it has spread from the original site to other parts of the body.

Surgical intervention:
An operation to remove a tumor or to decrease the symptoms caused by the tumor.

Symptom:
Something a patient experiences that is different than normal for them, and may be the result of the disease or its treatment.

Targeted therapy:
Treatment that uses specific cancer drugs to block the growth and spread of cancer by attacking specific areas in the cancer cell. The drugs interfere with specific elements or activities needed by the cancer cell to survive and grow.

Tumor:
An abnormal growth of tissue. A tumor may be either benigh (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Types of Cancer Treatment

Surgery - the most direct way to remove a visible tumor or cancer cells that have invaded a specific area.

Chemotherapy - treatment with medication, sometimes given orally, but more commonly by injection, into a vein or muscle to destroy cancer cells. It is a systemic treatment that reaches every organ of the body through the bloodstream.

Biotherapy - a type of treatment for certain cancers, biotherapy uses different parts of the body's immune system to fight cancer or to lessen the side effects of some cancer treatments. They may repress cancer cell growth; act indirectly to help healthy cells, particularly immune cells that control cancer; or help to repair or replace normal cells damaged by other cancer treatments. Also known as immunotherapy, biological therapy, or biological response modifier (BRM) therapy.

Radiation therapy - a treatment method that uses high-energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells.

Adjuvant therapy - using any of the above therapies in a regimen to treat microscopic cancer that is not yet visible, with the goal of preventing the cancer from returning.

Hormonal therapy - treatment or prevention of cancer by removing, blocking, or adding hormones that affect the growth of a tumor.

 

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