Medical Glossary
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Cancer The development of abnormal, uncontrolled cell growth. A particular type of cancer is named from the site of the cancer. It is not one disease; it is over a hundred different diseases. Each one has its own treatment. Breast cancer cells are different from lung cancer cells and therefore treatment for breast cancer is very different than treatment for lung cancer.
Candidiasis White patches usually in the mouth caused by a fungal infection.
Carcinogen A substance that causes cancer.
Carcinoma A cancerous tumor that begins in the outside lining (epithelial cells) of the organs.
Carcinoma in situ A very early form of cancer, confined to the tissue from where it started, which is highly curable.
CAT Scan (Computerized Axial Tomography) Also known as a CT scan. This x-ray process takes pictures inside the body. To better visualize certain areas, an injection of dye into an IV line may be given and/or a contrast milkshake may be needed. The patient lies still on an examination table while a machine circles around you to take the pictures. The test can take up to one hour depending on how many areas need to be imaged. The patient may have to fast for a couple of hours prior to the exam. There is no other preparation required. It is a painless procedure.
Catheter See Central Line Catheter
CBC See Complete Blood Count
CEA (Carcinoembryonic Antigen) A protein which can be a tumor marker found in the blood and may or may not indicate the level of cancer in the body. This tumor maker is most specific for cancers in the colon.
Central Line Catheter/ Central Venous Catheter A catheter is a tube that is inserted through the skin and into a large blood vessel. Part of the tube will lie outside the chest. This catheter may be necessary for the patient to receive chemotherapy treatments. It is also used to draw blood samples without needing to stick the arms. There are many types of central line catheters.
Cervical lymph nodes Lymph nodes in the neck.
Chemistry Panel A blood test to evaluate the chemical components of the blood (electrolytes, enzymes, glucose)
Chemotherapy A drug treatment that is given to destroy cancer cells. It can be given as a pill but is most commonly given in liquid form, through an IV catheter in the arm or chest. It is commonly given after surgery or combined with radiation.
Chest Port A type of central line catheter that lies completely under the skin. This device is for both the administration of chemotherapy and blood products as well as blood draws. There are many brands of ports and the oncologist and the surgeon will help choose the one that best fits the patient’s needs.
Chest X-ray (CXR) A picture of the chest, which shows the condition of the lungs and may identify, tumor, infection or fluid.
Chromosome The part of the human cell that contains the genetic information.
Chronic Persisting over a period of time.
Clinical Trial An organized investigation of the effects of a treatment on a specific group of people with a particular disease. In cancer research, clinical trials are conducted with cancer patients, usually to evaluate a new treatment.
Code Status At the beginning of every hospital admission, a patient’s code status will be addressed. The doctor will ask the patient whether or not they want to have their heart started with CPR and a breathing tube placed and connected to a ventilator if during the hospital stay their heart should stop beating. The doctor will then make a note of the patient’s wishes in the chart. See “Do Not Resuscitate”.
Colon Cancer A cancer that starts in the colon or large intestine.
Colonoscopy A procedure usually performed under sedation, where a flexible, lighted scope is inserted into the rectum and travels the large intestine for visualization of abnormal areas. This is a screening procedure for colon cancer. A biopsy is taken of any suspicious area.
Colostomy Opening in the skin of the body to allow for the passage of stool from the intestine to outside the abdomen through an opening called a stoma.
Complete Blood Count (CBC) a blood test that measures the white blood cell count level, platelet count and red blood cell level within a sample of blood.
Complete Remission/Complete Response A complete remission/complete response occurs when there is no sign of cancer in your body.
Conditioning A stem cell transplant process where the patient is treated with high dose chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy, to destroy cancer cells throughout the body. Conditioning in allogeneic transplantation serves an additional purpose by destroying the cells of the immune system, reducing the risk that the recipient will reject the graft. Conditioning regimens vary according to the disease being treated and the medical center protocols being investigated.
Consent A patient's permission for a procedure or treatment that can be given verbally or in written form.
CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) An emergency procedure to manually pump the body’s blood when the heart has stopped beating. This is done by compressing the chest area and forcing air into the patient’s lungs. CPR classes are available at local community centers and hospitals.
Creatinine A blood test to evaluate how well the kidneys are functioning.
Cyst A fluid-filled or semi-solid collection of tissue within a sac.
Cystitis An inflammation of the bladder.
Cytogenetics A test on the bone marrow to evaluate the health of your chromosomes.
Cytokine A product of the immune system cells that may stimulate immunity and thereby cause a decrease in tumor cells.
Cytology An examination of cells under the microscope.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) A type of virus which can infect patients who’s immune systems are highly suppressed such as bone marrow transplant patients. Allogeneic patients are screened for CMV weekly with a blood test.