128TAB SEVEN | GLOSSARY OF CANCER TERMS patient guide
caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment. Mutations can be harmful, beneﬁcial or have no effect.
If they occur in cells that make eggs or sperm, they can be inherited; if mutations occur in other types of cells, they are
not inherited. Certain mutations may lead to cancer or other diseases.
Neoadjuvant therapy: treatment given before the primary treatment. Examples of neoadjuvant therapy include
chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormone therapy.
Palliative care: treatment to relieve, rather than cure, symptoms caused by cancer. Palliative care can help people live
Pathologist: a doctor who identiﬁes diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope.
Pelvis: the lower part of the abdomen, located between the hip bones.
Peripheral stem cell transplantation: a method of replacing blood-forming cells destroyed by cancer treatment.
Immature blood cells (stem cells) in the circulating blood that are similar to those in the bone marrow are given to the
patient after treatment. This helps the bone marrow recover and continue producing healthy blood cells. Transplantation
may be autologous (an individual’s own blood cells saved earlier), allogeneic (blood cells donated by someone else), or
syngeneic (blood cells donated by an identical twin). Also called peripheral stem cell support.
Progesterone: a female hormone.
Prognosis: the likely outcome or course of a disease; the chance of recovery or recurrence.
Radiation oncologist: a doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer.
Radiation therapy: the use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons and other sources to kill cancer
cells and shrink tumors. External radiation therapy is the use of a machine to aim high-energy rays at the cancer. Internal
radiation therapy is the placement of radioactive material inside the body as close as possible to the cancer.
Radioactive: giving off radiation.
Radionuclide scanning: an exam that produces pictures of the inside of the body. The patient is given an injection or
swallows a small amount of radioactive material. A machine called a scanner then measures the radioactivity in certain
Recur: to occur or happen again.
Regression: the state of growing smaller or disappearing; used to describe the shrinkage or disappearance of a cancer.
Remission: the disappearance of the signs and symptoms of cancer. When this happens, the disease is said to be “in
remission.” Remission may be temporary or permanent.