Dialog Box

Rare Cancers Australia

Glossary of Terms (A-G)




stomach, stomach area, belly, tummy


new, recent, comes with an urgent or significant sense, is sudden, sharp or urgent


a cancer that grows in gland tissue


disease related to glands, usually large or swollen lymph glands (see lymph glands)

adjunct therapy or treatment

a drug or treatment used as an add-on to help/support the first or main treatment

adjuvant chemotherapy

use of chemotherapy, after surgery, to reduce the risk of your cancer coming back

adjuvant radiation therapy

use of radiation therapy, after surgery, on the area around the original cancer site to reduce the risk of cancer returning to that site


to give (medicine or treatment), manage, take care of


let you enter, hospital entry

advance care planning

to think about and plan for future health needs, such as having someone represent/talk for you if you are unable to speak for yourself


at a late stage, far along

adverse effect

a bad side effect, bad reaction, unwanted response or results


ALK inhibitors are potential anti-cancer drugs that act on tumours with variations of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) receptors.


to have a tendency, where the immune system, reacts or responds to things such as foods, pollens or medication causing an allergic reaction

allergic reaction

the body's response to an allergy from things like pollen, food or medication. For example, a rash if allergic to some medications, or watery eyes and sneezing if allergic to pollen/hay fever


groups working together

allied health workers

people who are trained to help patients with non-medical needs such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, nutrition and diet and psychology


the partial or complete absence of hair from areas of the body where it normally grows; baldness

alternative therapy

therapy that is not standard, medical treatment; often it is not scientifically tested or proven; examples include vitamins, herbal teas, supplements, yoga Chinese medicine and Ayurveda therapies


walk or able to walk


pain killer drug


cancer cells that split very quickly and do not look like normal cells


where the number of red blood cells have dropped. This can make people feel tired, breathless and unwell and affects how the body fights infection


a drug used to get rid of or reduce the feeling of pain by putting you to sleep

Androgen Deprivation Therapy (also called ADT)

a treatment for prostate cancer. It reduces the growth of male hormone which grows the cancer


drug that kills germs and other bacteria


a protein made by the body, in the immune system, to help fight against strange and/or harmful matter found in the body such as bacteria or viruses


a drug to thin blood that helps stop it from clotting; stop blood joining/coming together to become a clot (small jelly-like lump)


medicine to help stop nausea or feeling sick like you are going to vomit/throw up


entry to the back passage; bum

  • to take blood and separate it into the different parts that make up blood (known as blood components) and removing some parts of blood
  • a medical process where blood is passed through a machine that separates out one or more certain parts of the blood and then returns what is left to the body

about or around the same, roughly or almost the same


blood vessel; tube made of muscle, that moves (carries) blood from the heart to all the parts of the body


the accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity, causing abdominal swelling.


to use a syringe (a needle) to take fluid/liquid out


to measure, look at and learn from


wasting away (of tissues/muscles)


armpit; underarm

Back to top


barium (used in x-ray)

a thick, white chemical liquid used to cover organs or body parts so that they will show up better on an x-ray

barium enema

a test to look for cancer in the bowel. It is a thick, white liquid put into your rectum, through your anus (bum) and x-rays (pictures) are taken


not cancerous, can grow but will not spread to other body parts


both sides


to take a small piece of body tissue and test it in a laboratory


a small, elastic/muscle type sac/bag in the body, where urine (wee) is stored for urinating/weeing. Is found in the lower abdomen/belly area

blood count

a test that counts red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in the blood

bone marrow

is soft, spongy tissue found in bones that makes blood cells

booked admissions

a planned and booked hospital entry


the intestines (like a tube) that run between the stomach and anus (bum) and is made up of the small bowel (small intestine) and the large bowel (colon and rectum). (see 'small intestine' and 'colon' for more information)

bowel prep or bowel preparation

a special drink, usually Picoprep, to clean/clear out the bowel (back passage) and intestines of any waste (stools, faeces, poo) before an endoscopy; (usually by producing loose stools)


radiation therapy that is done close to the surface (outside) of the body area or is done inside the body itself by using needles and/or seeds to deliver radiation radiation treatment that targets specific tissue(s) or area with no danger or harm to other tissue(s) around the cancer


extra pain killer medicine that lasts for two (2) to three (3) hours

  • short and bad pain that breaks through (is felt) even though a person is taking pain killer medicine
  • needing stronger pain killer because the medication being used is not lasting and the pain has broken through
breakthrough pain

short and bad pain that breaks through (is felt) even though


a small flexible camera tube (called an endoscope) used to examine the lungs and the passage to the lungs, including the bronchial tubes

Back to top



a disease where abnormal cells split without control and spread to other nearby body tissue and/or organs. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and lymph systems

cancer imaging (also called diagnostic imaging)

deals with x-rays, and other types of scans that show pictures of your body parts

cancer journey

what a person experiences/lives from the time they think they have cancer

cancer staging

doing tests to know how big the cancer is, where it started and if it has spread to other body parts. Gives it a number from stage 1 (earliest stage) to stage 4 (stage 4 meaning the cancer has spread to other body organs or parts) (also see 'staging')

cancer of unknown

when cancer cells are found in the body but doctors do not know

primary origin

or cannot identify where they first started growing

cancer survivor

not a medical term. It means different things to different people. For some, being a survivor can start at the beginning of cancer or cancer treatment. Others may use this term after their treatment and follow-up has finished


a thin, plastic tube inserted/pushed in by a needle, under the skin and into a vein or body part, that is used to deliver or remove fluids such as medicines or blood samples


are dangerous substances that can cause cancer such as cigarette smoking, UV rays from the sun, asbestos and very bad air pollution


a cancer that begins in the skin or in tissue that covers our inside body organs

carcinoma in situ

cancer that only involves the cells in which it began and does not spread to other areas, tissues, or body parts


a hollow tube put into the body to help drain fluids such as urine (wee) from the bladder or inject fluids such as long term antibiotics

  • the smallest, living parts of the body. Cells work together to form or build the body
  • a human is made up of millions of Cells
  • Cells reproduce themselves to make sure a body stays working
  • sometimes Cells can be abnormal or damaged and these can be cancer cells
central line (see also 'peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line')

a thin, plastic tube inserted by a needle, under your skin into a large vein in your chest. A central line is used to inject medicines and drips or to take blood

chemo brain

a side effect/result after of chemotherapy where patients may have loss of memory, find it hard to concentrate, feel confused; a tired and confused brain

  • a chemical drug treatment to kill or slow growing cancer Cells
  • these drugs are called cytotoxic drugs

a long-lasting disease that changes slowly

chronic pain

pain that can be mild to severe and lasts a long time

clear margin

when a tumour is removed through surgery, some tissue from around the tumour is also removed and if this tissue does not contain any cancer cells it is said to be a clear margin

clinical trial

a study to test new treatments such as drugs, procedures or technologies to see if they work and/or are safe for people


surgery to cut away (resection) all or part of the colon (large intestine)


  • the large intestine (also known as big bowel) which is the lower part of your digestive system from the end of the small intestine to the rectum (back passage; bum) which absorbs water from the food you eat and turns the leftover waste into faeces (stools; poo)
  • rectal cancer is found in the colon

to look at the colon (big bowel) with a small flexible camera tube (called an endoscope) through the rectum (back passage; bum)


to do with the colon (big bowel) and rectum (the back passage; bum) an operation where the colon (bowel) is cut and joined to an opening (stoma) made in the stomach wall so that stools/waste products (poo) can move through the stoma into a bag on the outside of the body


an operation where the colon (bowel) is cut and joined to an

colostomy bag

a small, disposable bag or pouch, worn on the outside, that is attached to an opening (stoma) to collect stools/waste products (poo)


to examine the inside of the vagina or cervix with a small magnifying instrument (called a colposcope)


how we talk to each other; how we share our knowledge, what we know with each other

complementary therapy

nonstandard medical therapy such as yoga, relaxation, massage and meditation that is used together with standard medical treatment

contrast (liquid)

a liquid, like a dye, that has special ingredients/parts that is given into the body (either through a needle or by drinking) to make body parts/organs stand out more and show detail especially in x-rays or scans

CT scan

a 3-D (three dimensional) x-ray pictures that gives more information than a normal x-ray


to examine the bladder with an endoscope


a drug or process that is deadly/poisonous to cells

cytotoxic (a person)

a person who has had chemotherapy in the last seven (7) days produces body fluids that are dangerous for others to touch/handle.


to be treated completely no evidence of the disease/condition or sign of it coming back even after many years

Back to top



using medical test results, identify and name a disease and/or condition

diagnostic imaging (also called cancer imaging)

deals with x-rays, and other scans that show pictures of your body parts


removing waste and waste fluids from the body through a filter by filtering blood or tummy fluids


where watery or loose faeces (stools; poo) is frequently/often released discharged from the body. Also called 'the runs'

dietitian (also called a 'nutritionist')

a healthcare professional who is trained in nutrition and diet, to help people make diet choices (a person's food and drink)

digestive system

how we eat and process foods. Includes organs from: 1. upper gastrointestinal area such as oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, gall bladder, pancreas and liver 2. colorectal area such as colon (big bowel/large intestine), rectum and anus.

  • going home or leaving the hospital
  • fluid coming out of a wound or body part

the amount of medication taken


digital rectal exam, meaning to use a finger to probe inside the anus (bum; bottom; back passage) to examine it (to find cancer)

DVT (deep vein thrombosis)

a blood clot (small jelly-like lump) that can form in a vein


not working properly

  • a change in the size, shape and the way normal Cells are organised
  • dysplastic Cells are abnormal but are not cancerous

Back to top



A substance that blocks the activity of a protein called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). EGFR is found on the surface of some normal cells and is involved in cell growth. It may also be found at high levels on some types of cancer cells, which causes these cells to grow and divide.


a block in an artery (blood vessel/tube) that can be caused by a blood clot, infected tissue, air bubble or cancer cells


very small(fibre optic) camera on a flexible tube for looking inside body organs


looking inside the body with an endoscope

enduring power of attorney medical (also called a MePOA)

a person who is chosen by a patient to act and speak for the patient in all medical matters


an injection into the spinal cord (back bone) to numb the area from waist down


to cut out or remove by cutting

Back to top



waste product from the bowel through the back passage (bum), also called stools or poo

fast or fasted

no food or drink for a certain amount of time. The fasting time will be different for every patient and/or procedure/treatment


to have a fever; high body temperature above 38º Celsius

febrile neutropenia

a fever together with a major reduction/loss of white blood cells


plastic surgery to cut healthy skin and tissue (leaving it a little bit connected to the body for blood supply) and move to where a cancer was cut out

Back to top


gait aids

special tools that help you move around such as crutches


the science of studying and treating stomach and intestines


looking and checking the stomach through a small, flexible camera called an endoscope

general anaesthetic

a drug to put you to sleep so you can't feel anything during surgery

germ cells

cells that make eggs in females and sperm in males. Germ cell cancers can happen in the female ovaries or male testicles

GP (general practitioner)

local family doctors, found in the community, who treat people of all ages with different health problems. GPs can also coordinate and help patients see and share information with other specialist doctors and hospitals

  • a score that tells how quickly a tumour might spread and grow by looking at how the abnormal cells and tissue look under a microscope
  • grade is not the same as stage
  • grading is different depending on the type of cancer

area between the abdomen (belly) and thighs (top of upper legs)


study and treatment of the female genital/sex and reproductive body parts

Can't find what you're looking for?

We have a friendly team available to chat about any questions you may have, or just to lend an ear if you’re having a tough time.

Call 1800 257 600Have us call you