This glossary reviews the meaning of some words used in “Chemotherapy and You.” It also explains some words related to chemotherapy that are not mentioned in this booklet but that you may hear from your doctor or nurse.
Adjuvant therapy: Anticancer drugs or hormones given after surgery and/or radiation to help prevent the cancer from coming back.
Alopecia: Hair loss
Anaemia: Having too few red blood cells. Symptoms of anaemia include feeling tired, weak, and short of breath.
Anorexia: Poor appetite.
Antiemetic: A medicine that prevents or controls nausea and vomiting.
Benign: A term used to describe a tumour that is not cancerous.
Biological therapy: Treatment to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight infection and disease. Also called immunotherapy.
Blood count: The number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in a sample of blood. This is also called the complete blood count (CBC).
Bone marrow: The inner, spongy tissue of bones where red blood cells, white blood cells.
Cancer: A general name for more than 100 diseases in which abnormal cells grow out of control; a malignant tumour.
Catheter: A thin flexible tube through which fluids can enter or leave the body.
Central venous catheter: A special thin, flexible tube placed in a large vein. It remains there for as long as it is needed to deliver and withdraw fluids.
Chemotherapy: The use of drugs to treat cancer.
Chromosomes: Threadlike bodies found in the nucleus, or center part, of a cell that carry the information of heredity.
Clinical Trials: Medical research studies conducted with volunteers. Each study is designed to answer scientific questions and to find better ways to prevent or treat cancer.
Colony-stimulating factors: Substances that stimulate the producation of blood cells. Treatment with colony-stimulating factors (CSF) can help the blood-forming tissue recover from the effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These include granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSF) and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factors (GM-CSF).
Combination chemotherapy: The use of more than one drug to treat cancer.
Diuretics: Drugs that help the body get rid of excess water and salt.
Gastrointestinal: Having to do with the digestive tract, which includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines.
Hormones: Natural substances released by an organ that can influence the function of other organs in the body.
Infusion: Slow and/or prolonged intravenous delivery of a drug or fluids.
Injection: Using a syringe and needle to push fluids or drugs into the body; often called a “shot.”
Intra-arterial (IA): Into an artery.
Intracavitary (IC): Into a cavity, or space, specifically the abdomen, pelvis, or the chest.
Intralesional (IL): Into the cancerous area in the skin.
Intramuscular (IM): Into a muscle.
Intrathecal (IT): Into the spinal fluid.
Intravenous (IV): Into a vein.
Malignant: Used to describe a cancerous tumour.
Metastasis: When cancer cells break away from their original site and spread to other parts of the body.
Palliative care: Treatment to relieve, rather than cure, symptoms caused by cancer. Palliative care can help people live more comfortably.
Peripheral neuropathy: A condition of the nervous system that usually begins in the hands and/or feet with symptoms of numbness, tingling, burning and/or weakness. Can be caused by certain anticancer drugs.
Per os (PO): By mouth, orally
Platelets: Special blood cells that help stop bleeding.
Port: A small plastic or metal container surgically placed under the skin and attached to a central venous catheter inside the body. Blood and fluids can enter or leave the body through the port using a special needle.
Radiation therapy: Cancer treatment with radiation (high-energy rays).
Red blood cells: Cells that supply oxygen to tissues throughout the body.
Remission: The disappearance of signs and symptoms of disease.
Stomatitis: Sores on the inside lining of the mouth.
Subcutaneous (SQ or SC): Under the skin.
Tumour: An abnormal growth of cells or tissues. Tumours may be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
White blood cells: The blood cells that fight infection.