There are literally thousands of terms in medicalese. Every type of cancer has its own. For example, a radical nephrectomy is the complete removal of a kidney. Obviously that will not be a term used when dealing with lung cancer. And on and on the list will go. I thought I would throw in just a few of the more common terms you will run into regardless of what you face. Again, like anything else, ASK if you do not understand what you are being told. Be positive of what is going on before you commit to any course of action. Communication, understanding, informed decision. It is your life on the line. Do whatever it takes to deal with it the best you can.
Adjuvant therapy: A secondary form of treatment in addition to and following the main course of action in your treatment protocol.
Alopecia: Loss of hair, either partial or complete, frequently a side effect of chemotherapy.
Analgesic: Pain killer.
Anemia: Shortage of red blood cells. Typical symptoms include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath.
Antibodies: Proteins created by you immune system to fight disease/infections.
Aspiration: Usually refers to needle biopsies for the removal of fluid or tissue.
Benign: A non-cancerous/malignant tumor.
Biopsy: The removal of a small sample of tissue to test for malignancy.
Platelets: There are 3 types of blood cells in your body. Platelets promote blood clotting.
Bone Scan: A form of x-ray imaging using a radio-active die that is injected into a vein. After allowing your blood to circulate for 3 to 4 hours, you are placed on a table and a scan is done to see if any spots stand out where extreme die contrasts show up. These spots are potential sources of cancer. It can be done for localized areas or for the entire body from the top of your head to the bottoms of your feet.
Brachytherapy: The implanting of a radioactive "seed" directly into a tumor to kill the cancerous cells.
Carcinoma: One of three forms that cancer takes. Carcinomas are the most common.
CT or CAT scan: (Computerized Axial Tomography) A sophisticated type of x-ray that creates cross-sections of your body. It typically also uses some form of contrast such as iodine.
CEA: Known also as "tumor markers" that are found in your bloodstream. Not all types of cancer give off these markers. When present, they are one means of testing to determine what is happening to your tumor.
Chemotherapy: Specific systemic poisons used to stop or slow down the growth of cancer cells.
Clinical Trial: The final stages of testing new drugs and or procedures in the treatment of diseases, including cancer. There are multiple forms of tests that can be run. People generally volunteer to be part of a test group.
Complete Remission: This is defined as whether or not there are any active cancer cells found in your body. If you stay in this state of not having any cancer cells located for a period of 6 months, you are in complete remission. Once the clock ticks away 5 years in the same state, you are then "cured" by most standards.
Cure: In most instances it refers to a person who has not had any sign of cancer for 5 years after the last treatment given. The big issue here is whether or not there really is such a thing as a "cure" when discussing cancer. For the most part, this is a very disingenuous word. Cancer can return to your life at any moment for any number of reasons. Once you have battled it, you are forever susceptible to its wiles. Everyone has cancer cells floating about in their body all the time. Given the right stimulus, cancer as a growth, a malignancy can and will happen again and again.
Dental Fluorosis: Dental fluorosis is a condition that results from the intake of too much fluoride during the period of tooth development, usually from birth to approximately 6-8 years of age. Excess levels of fluoride can disturb the cell function of the enamel-forming cells (ameloblasts) which prevents the normal maturation of the enamel. The severity of this condition ranges from very mild to severe, depending on the extent of fluoride exposure during the period of tooth development. Mild dental fluorosis is usually characterized by the appearance of small white areas in the enamel; individuals with severe dental fluorosis have teeth that appear stained and pitted ("mottled").
Endoscope: A flexible scope that can be used to view internal organs.
Event-Free Survival: Associated only with clinical trials. Here we go again with a unique set of qualifiers that tend to make experimental drugs look better, if possible. It refers to the length of time after a treatment where you remain free of certain "negative events" as they are termed. Some examples are: cancer progression or recurrence, severe side effects of the treatment itself, or death (truly a negative event) by either the cancer or side effects of the treatment. It does not have anything to do with comparing the length or quality of life to what a normal (non cancerous) life span would be.
Fine Needle Aspiration: The use of a very thin needle to take a biopsy. Usually a nearly painless event.
Free Radical: In very simple terms, they are a highly reactive chemical particles in your body that oxidize (burn) just about anything they come in contact with. Extremely damaging to body cells and DNA.
Grading: The categorization of cancer tumors based upon whether or not a cell is different from healthy/normal cells that surround it.
Hormonal Therapy: A form of cancer treatment that uses body hormones to reject cancer cells.
Hospice: A special care program for cancer victims and their families that provides comfort and support when life is near its end.
Immune System: Your body's natural defense system against all forms of disease. It is responsible for defining diseases and subduing them through different body generated mechanisms. (see the section on this website that deals with what the importance of the immune system is.
Interferon: A protein activator of the immune system.
Invasive Cancer: A cancer that has metastasized or spread throughout other parts of the body.
IVP: (Intvervenous Pyelogram Radiography) A form of x-ray that is used exclusively for urinary tract diagnosis.
Lactobacillus: Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus) is the most commonly used probiotic, or "friendly" bacteria. Such healthy bacteria inhabit the intestines and vagina and protect against the entrance and proliferation of "bad" organisms that can cause disease. This is accomplished through a variety of mechanisms. For example, the breakdown of food by L. acidophilus leads to production of lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and other byproducts that make the environment hostile for undesired organisms. L. acidophilus also produces lactase, the enzyme that breaks down milk sugar (lactose) into simple sugars. People who are lactose intolerant do not produce this enzyme. For this reason, L. acidophilus supplements may be beneficial for these individuals.
Lymphoma: One of the three primary types of cancer.
Lobectomy: The partial removal of a lung.
Lumpectomy: The removal of a tumor from a breast without completely removing the breast.
Lymph Nodes: A network of small, pea sized nodules, about 700 of them, scattered throughout the body. They act as filters to remove foreign substances including cancer cells. They also produce anti-bodies.
Lymphedema: A swelling of legs or arms caused by a blockage in the lymphatic system.
Malignant: Virulent cancer capable of spreading to other parts of the body.
Masectomy: The complete removal of a breast; usually referred to as a radical masectomy.
Metastasis: The spread of cancer from one place to another.
MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging: A magnet field is created that is able to provide an image of the inside of your body. Although the test itself will not harm you or hurt in any way, be absolutely sure to inform your doctor if you have any metallic objects imbedded in your body such as plates, screws, pins, shrapnel from a war wound, etc. Objects such as these can be literally pulled out of your body and therefore their presence should preclude your using this testing device.
Nadir: The lowest point to which your blood platelets and white cells drop after chemotherapy.
Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy: Chemo given prior to surgery or radiation, frequently to reduce tumor size.
Neuropathy: A side-effect of some forms of chemo that causes numbness or tingling in body extremities.
Oncologist: A cancer specialist whose primary treatment tool is generally chemotherapy.
Palliative Treatment: Some form of medical treatment to relieve pain and/or symptoms when a cure is no longer feasible.
Partial Remission: As the name suggests, the cancer in your body has lessened. Either the tumor size has shrunk or there is less cancer found throughout your body. It has not all disappeared from view at this point. Each form of cancer has its own statistics, but generally speaking, a tumor must shrink by 50% and stay that way for 6 months. Now comes a "new" definition of an old term: Because we want clinical trials to look like they hold promise, "partial remission" has been redefined to mean a 30% reduction, not 50% as with "accepted" treatments. So when you review a clinical trial on a new drug, WOW, YOU GOT A PARTIAL REMISSION MORE QUICKLY THAN EXPECTED! WHAT A BREAKTHROUGH! Except it is not comparing apples to apples.
PET Scan: Positron Emission Tomography scanning is one of the latest forms of technology for cancer diagnostics rendering much clearer imaging than conventional X-rays.
Prognosis: The prediction of the outcome for treatments of your disease.
Progression-free Survival: How long during and after treatment your cancer does not grow. In other words, this is a measure of any length of time where the cancer does not grow from the time treatments began. It does not have anything to do with the overall length or quality of life compared to a normal (non-cancerous) life span would be. You can have a significant length of time "progression free' and still die before a 5 year span is up. So, did you gain something if your life was no longer overall when compared to survival rates with the tumor slowly growing?
Progressive Disease: Cancer that continues to grow after treatment has begun. In order to qualify for this, the growth must be at least 20%. The bottom line here is that either the tumor has gotten larger or the cancer has spread to other areas. Neither case is good news. The course of action you have chosen is not working.
Primary Tumor: The place of origin for your cancer.
Protocol: A treatment program.
Radiation Therapy: The use of radiation to literally burn out cancer cells.
Red Blood Cells: The normal blood cells that carry oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
Refractive Cancer: Does not respond to treatment. Many types of cancer such as kidney, gallbladder, ocular melanoma, pancreatic, etc... are refractive in nature from the start. In essence this means that no matter what you choose to do with conventional medicine, if it cannot be removed completely with surgery, treatments will not work. Many times non-refractive cancers change designations because they develop a tolerance to the treatments administered whether allopathic or natural. (They learn to adapt and overcome) When this happens to cancers in the case of synthetically produced drugs, frequently they can also destroy the body's ability to utilize other non-cancer drugs, even to the point of simple aspirin no longer working. Be sure you fully discuss the ramifications of having treatments with advanced cancers that can become or are already refractive. More often than not, significant damage will be done to your body that merely hastens death or other disabilities at the price of horrific side effects from the treatments being administered. A double whammy, so to speak.
Relapse: When the "cure" is no longer a cure, and the cancer has returned. A relapse can happen at any point in time, from a day to literally years after some form of remission is noted. This is why I object to the use of the word cure. A relapse of your cancer can happen in the same place it started or it can crop up anywhere in your body. It will happen wherever it finds a weakness to exploit. Consider this, if you please: you cannot cure something by treating the symptoms. A cure denotes knowing the exact cause and treating the cause so as to prevent it from happening again. No cancer has yet been defined as to its actual cause. There are many contributing factors, but the underlying cause of cancer is still unknown even with the tens of billions of dollars that have been poured into research over the last 50+ years.
Relative Survival: Amount of time a person can expect to live with a
particular disease when compared to similar people of the same age who do not
have that disease. Relative survival is supposed to give you an idea of how much
any particular disease is expected to shorten your life. Relative survival
reflects the death from the specific cancer and not other forms of death such as
(secondary cancers, side effects of treatments, etc...). Usually it is
calculated for the different stages of cancer as a percentage. Example: The
overall 5 year survival rate for lung cancer is 15% (all stages put together).
For people with stage 1 or 2, the chance of survival is actually 48% where stage
4 (metastatic growth outside the lungs) is only 3%.
Sarcoma: One of three primary forms cancer can take.
Skeletal Fluorosis: Skeletal fluorosis is a health effect of excessive accumulation of fluoride in bones leading to changes in bone structure and making them extremely weak and brittle. The early stages of skeletal fluorosis are characterized by increased bone mass, detectable by x-ray. If very high fluoride intake persists over many years, joint pain and stiffness may result from the skeletal changes. The most severe form of skeletal fluorosis is known as "crippling skeletal fluorosis," which may result in calcification of ligaments, immobility, muscle wasting, and neurological problems related to spinal cord compression.
Stable Disease: Cancer activity that does not qualify for remission or progressive status. It is either slowly growing or slowly shrinking but not enough to qualify for either category.
Staging: The grading of cancer based upon size and if it has spread. Stage 1 is a tumor that is small and localized. Stage 4 is large and has spread to other places in the body making most forms of treatment, for other than symptomatic relief, not viable.
Thrombosis: The forming of at least one blood clot.
TNM Classification: A cancer grading system that looks at the size of the tumor, whether or not the lymph system is involved, and whether or not the cancer has metastasized.
Total Survival: is the amount of time a person can expect to live before dying from any cause. Total survival shows the risk of dying from any given form of cancer when compared to dying from any other cause such as an accident or other illness. The calculation given is generally supposed to reflect how much time was lost from a normal lifespan that has cancer invade. Example: Prostate cancer diagnosed in a man at the age of 90 will probably not be the cause of death in comparison to prostate cancer diagnosed in a man of 45. The 45 year old will stand a much greater chance of dying from his cancer if he does not seek some form of treatment than the 90 year old who in all likelihood will die of some other ailment before the cancer kills him. This can have a major impact on what form (if any) of treatment to employ.
Tumor: A growth of abnormal cells that can be either benign or malignant.
Tumor Marker: Also known as "cancer markers" or just "markers". These are proteins and other non-typical substances in the blood stream that indicate the presence of cancer somewhere in the body. Monitoring of these markers is one way of determining the growth or shrinkage rate of your disease. Not all forms of cancer produce markers.
Ultrasound: A test procedure using high frequency sound waves sent into your body to produce an image of what is there. Not used as frequently in cancer diagnosis as it once was.
White Blood Cells: One of 3 types of blood cells. These in general are the group of cells that play a major roll in the immune system's ability to fight cancer and other diseases.
NOTICE: Under no circumstance is there any claim of any kind being made or implied that what I have chosen to do for myself has any merit to anyone other than me. This website or any printed matter I generate as a result of this website is not to be intended or in any way considered a substitute for the services of a medical professional. I am not to be considered in any way responsible for any consequences incurred by those who choose to employ the remedies or treatments I have reported. I make no claim that cancer is curable, least of all by me. I make no claim as to being able to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any disease or infirmity of any type. It is strongly recommended and encouraged that everyone visiting this sight devote time to researching all possible treatment options that make sense to them and that they avail themselves of the expertise of those who are experienced in the treatment and “cure” of cancer; and that they seek whatever additional help and support their conditions warrant.