Glossary: A List of Cancer-Related Terms

Glossary: A List of Cancer-Related Terms

Cancer: A group of more than 100 diseases in which cells in a part of the body begin to grow out of control.

Carcinogen: Any substance that causes cancer or helps cancer grow.

Caregiver: A caregiver is anyone who provides physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, or logistical support to a loved one with a chronic, disabling or life-threatening illness.

Chemotherapy: Treatment with drugs to destroy cancer cells.

Gene: A section of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that has information on hereditary traits such as hair color, eye color, and height, as well as susceptibility to certain diseases.

Malignant: Cancerous; A tumor that is cancerous is called malignant.

Melanocytes: Cells that make the skin coloring.

Melanoma: A cancerous (malignant) tumor that begins in the melanocytes.

Oncologist: A doctor with special training in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Prognosis: A prediction of the course of disease. The outlook for the chances of survival.

Radiation: The use of high-energy particles to destroy or damage cancer cells. It is one of the most common treatments for cancer.

Remission: Complete or partial disappearance of the signs and symptoms of cancer in response to treatment; the period during which a disease is under control.

Risk-Factor: Anything that is related to a person’s chance of getting a disease such as cancer.

Secondhand Smoke: Also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) or passive smoke. It is a mixture of 2 forms of smoke that come from burning tobacco: sidestream smoke (smoke that comes from the end of a lighted cigarette, pipe, or cigar) and mainstream smoke (smoke that is exhaled by a smoker).

Surgery: An operation for the removal or change of a particular part of the body typically performed under an anesthetic.

Symptom: A change in the body caused by an illness or condition, as described by the person experiencing it.

These definitions come from the websites of the Cancer Support Community and the American Cancer Society.