125TAB SEVEN | GLOSSARY OF CANCER TERMS patient guide
Diuretics: drugs that help the body get rid of excess water and salt.
Dysplasia (dis-PLAY-zha): cells that abnormal under a microscope but are not cancer.
Endoscopy (en-DAHS-ko-pee): the use of a thin, lighted tube (called an endoscope) to examine the inside of the body.
Estrogen: a female hormone.
Excisional biopsy: a surgical procedure in which an entire lump or suspicious area is removed for diagnosis. The tissue
is then examined under a microscope.
External radiation: radiation therapy that uses a machine to aim high-energy rays at the cancer. Also called external-
Fecal occult blood test: a test to check for hidden blood in the stool.
Fertility (fer-TIL-i-tee): the ability to produce children.
Gastrointestinal: the digestive tract, which includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines.
Gene: the functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes are pieces of DNA, and most
genes contain the information for making a speciﬁc protein.
Gene therapy: treatment that alters genes. In early studies of gene therapy for cancer, researchers try to improve the
body’s natural ability to ﬁght the disease or to make the tumor more sensitive to other kinds of therapy.
Graft-versus-host disease: also called GVHD. A reaction of donated bone marrow or peripheral stem cells against
the recipient’s tissue.
Hormone therapy: treatment that adds, blocks, or removes hormones. For certain conditions (such as diabetes or
menopause), hormones are given to adjust low hormone levels. To slow or stop the growth of certain cancers (such
as prostate and breast cancer), synthetic hormones or other drugs may be given to block the body’s natural hormones.
Sometimes surgery is needed to remove the gland that makes hormones. Also called hormonal therapy, hormone
treatment or endocrine therapy.
Hormones: chemicals produced by glands in the body. Hormones control the actions of certain cells or organs.
Hysterectomy (hiss-ter-EK-toe-mee): an operation in which the uterus is removed.