Dialog Box

Glossary of Terms (A-G)


A B C D E F G

A

abdomen

stomach, stomach area, belly, tummy

acute

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

adenocarcinoma

a cancer that grows in gland tissue

adenopathy

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

administer

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

admission

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

advanced

at a late stage, far along

adverse effect

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

ALK+

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

allergic

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

alliance

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

alopecia

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

ambulate/ambulatory

walk or able to walk

analgesic

pain killer drug

anaplastic

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

anaemia

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

anaesthetic

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

antibiotic

drug that kills germs and other bacteria

antibody

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

anticoagulant

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

anti-emetics

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

anus

entry to the back passage; bum

apheresis
  • 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
approximately

about or around the same, roughly or almost the same

artery

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

ascites

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

aspirate

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

assess

to measure, look at and learn from

atrophy

wasting away (of tissues/muscles)

axilla

armpit; underarm

Back to top

b

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

benign

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

bilateral

both sides

biopsy

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

bladder

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

bowel

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)

brachytherapy

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

breakthrough

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

bronchoscopy

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

C

cancer

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

cannula

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

carcinogen

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

carcinoma

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

catheter

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

cells
  • 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

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

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

colectomy

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

colon


  • 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
colonoscopy

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

colorectal

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

colostomy

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)

colposcopy

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

communication

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

cystoscopy

to examine the bladder with an endoscope

cytotoxic

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.

cure

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

Back to top

D

diagnosis

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

dialysis

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

diarrhoea

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.

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

the amount of medication taken

DRE

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

dysfunction

not working properly

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

Back to top

E

eGFR

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.

embolism

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

endoscope

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

endoscopy

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

epidural

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

excision

to cut out or remove by cutting

Back to top

F

faeces

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

febrile

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

febrile neutropenia

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

flap

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

G

gait aids

special tools that help you move around such as crutches

gastroenterology

the science of studying and treating stomach and intestines

gastroscopy

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

grade
  • 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
groin

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

gynaecology

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


Donate