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  • Abdomen


    The part of your body between the chest and the pelvis containing the stomach (with the lower part of the esophagus), small and large intestines, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, and bladder.

  • Ablative therapy

    Treatment that removes or destroys the function of an organ or system. For example, high dose chemotherapy and radiation before a bone marrow transplant is considered ablative therapy because it wipes out your immune system.

  • Abnormal


    Not normal. Describes a state, condition, or behavior that is unusual or different from what is considered normal. An abnormal lesion or growth in or on the body may be benign (not cancer), precancerous or premalignant (likely to become cancer), or malignant (cancer).

  • Absolute neutrophil count

    (AB-soh-loot NOO-troh-fil kownt)

    A measure of the number of neutrophils in the blood. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell. They help the body fight infection. An absolute neutrophil count may be used to check for infection, inflammation, leukemia, and other conditions. The lower a person's absolute neutrophil count is, the higher the risk is of getting an infection. Having an absolute neutrophil count of less than 500 means there is a high risk of getting an infection. Cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, may reduce the absolute neutrophil count. Also called ANC.

  • Acupressure


    The application of pressure or localized massage to specific sites on the body to control symptoms such as pain or nausea. It is a type of complementary and alternative medicine.

  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia

    (uh-KYOOT LIM-foh-BLAS-tik loo-KEE-mee-uh)

    A type of leukemia (blood cancer) that comes on quickly and is fast growing. In acute lymphoblastic leukemia, there are too many lymphoblasts (immature white blood cells) in the blood and bone marrow. Also called acute lymphocytic leukemia and ALL.

  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia

    uh-KYOOT LIM-foh-SIH-tik loo-KEE-mee-uh

    A type of leukemia (blood cancer) that comes on quickly and is fast growing. In acute lymphocytic leukemia, there are too many lymphoblasts (immature white blood cells) in the blood and bone marrow. Also called acute lymphoblastic leukemia and ALL.

  • Acute myeloid leukemia

    uh-KYOOT MY-eh-loyd loo-KEE-mee-uh

    An aggressive (fast-growing) disease in which too many myeloblasts (immature white blood cells that are not lymphoblasts) are found in the bone marrow and blood. Also called acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, AML, and ANLL.

  • Adjuvant therapy

    (A-joo-vunt THAYR-uh-pee)

    Additional cancer treatment given after the primary treatment to lower the risk that the cancer will come back. Adjuvant therapy may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, or biological therapy.

  • Adrenal glands


    A small gland that makes steroid hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These hormones help control heart rate, blood pressure, and other important body functions. There are two adrenal glands, one on top of each kidney. Also called suprarenal gland.

  • Adrenocortical tumor

    (uh-DREE-noh-KOR-tih-kul TOO-mer)

    A rare cancer that forms in the outer layer of tissue of the adrenal gland (a small organ on top of each kidney that makes steroid hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline to control heart rate, blood pressure, and other body functions). Also called adrenocortical carcinoma and cancer of the adrenal cortex.

  • Advance directive

    A legal document that states the treatment or care a person wishes to receive or not receive if he or she becomes unable to make medical decisions (for example, due to being unconscious).

  • Afebrile

    Having no fever, normal temperature.

  • Alagille syndrome

    (a-luh-JEEL SIN-drome)

    A rare disorder in which there are defects in the small tubes that carry bile (fluid that helps digest fat) out of the liver. These small tubes may be narrow or have an abnormal shape, or there may be fewer of them than normal. This can cause bile to build up in the liver, which may lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver damage. Alagille syndrome can also affect other parts of the body, including the heart, kidneys, blood vessels, eyes, face, and spine. It usually occurs in infants and children and may be inherited.

  • Albumin


    A type of protein found in blood, egg white, milk, and other substances.

  • Aldosterone


    A steroid hormone made by the adrenal cortex (the outer layer of the adrenal gland). It helps control the balance of water and salts in the kidney by keeping sodium in and releasing potassium from the body. Too much aldosterone can cause high blood pressure and a build-up of fluid in body tissues. Aldosterone is a type of mineralocorticoid hormone.

  • Allogeneic


    Taken from different individuals of the same species. Also called allogenic.

  • Alopecia


    Hair loss. This often occurs as a result of chemotherapy or from radiation therapy to the head. In most cases, the hair grows back after treatment ends.

  • Alpha-fetoprotein


    A protein normally produced by a fetus. Alpha-fetoprotein levels are usually undetectable in the blood of healthy adult men or women (who are not pregnant). An elevated level of alpha-fetoprotein suggests the presence of either a primary liver cancer or germ cell tumor. Also called AFP.

  • Alternative therapy

    Non-conventional treatment that may not be medically proven. Some alternative therapies may have dangerous or even life-threatening side effects. With others, the main danger is that you may lose the opportunity to benefit from conventional therapy. It is recommended that you discuss the use of alternative therapies with your health care team.

  • Ambulatory

    The ability to walk; not confined to bed.

  • Aminoglycoside antibiotics

    (uh-MEE-noh-GLY-koh-side AN-tee-by-AH-tik)

    A substance that works against many types of bacteria and includes streptomycin, gentamicin, and neomycin. An aminoglycoside antibiotic is used to treat bacterial infections.

  • Amputation


    The surgical removal of a diseased body part.

  • Analgesic


    A drug used for reducing pain.

  • Anaphylactic shock

    (A-nuh-fih-LAK-tik shok)

    A severe and sometimes life-threatening immune system reaction to an antigen that a person has been previously exposed to. The reaction may include itchy skin, edema, collapsed blood vessels, fainting, difficulty in breathing, and death.

  • Androgen


    A type of hormone that promotes the development and maintenance of male sex characteristics.

  • Anemia

    Low red blood cell count which can cause you to feel fatigued and have shortness of breath. Anemia can be caused by a variety of conditions and diseases.

  • Anesthesia

    General or local medicine provided to permit the performance of surgery or other painful procedures.

  • Anesthesiologist


    A doctor who specializes in giving medicines or other agents that prevent or relieve pain, especially during surgery.

  • Aneurysm

    An aneurysm is a bulge or "ballooning" in the wall of an artery. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to other parts of the body. If an aneurysm grows large, it can burst and cause dangerous bleeding or even death. Most aneurysms occur in the aorta, the main artery that runs from the heart through the chest and abdomen. Aneurysms also can happen in arteries in the brain, heart and other parts of the body. If an aneurysm in the brain bursts, it causes a stroke.

  • Angiofibroma


    A benign (not cancer) tumor that is made up of blood vessels and fibrous (connective) tissue. Angiofibromas usually appear as small, red bumps on the face, especially on the nose and cheeks. They are common in patients with tuberous sclerosis (a genetic disorder that causes skin lesions, seizures, and mental problems). Angiofibromas are a type of vascular tumor.

  • Anorexia


    Loss of appetite, which may be caused by either the cancer itself or treatments such as chemotherapy.

  • Antibiotic


    Drug used to kill organisms that cause disease. Since some cancer treatments can reduce your body's ability to fight infection, antibiotics may be used to treat or prevent (prophylactic) these infections.

  • Antibody


    A protein produced by immune system cells and released into the blood. Antibodies defend against foreign agents, such as bacteria. These agents contain certain substances called antigens. Each antibody works against a specific antigen.

  • Antibody Therapy

    (AN-tee-BAH-dee THAYR-uh-pee)

    Treatment that uses antibodies to help the body fight cancer, infection, or other diseases. Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system that bind to specific markers on cells or tissues. Monoclonal antibodies are a type of antibody made in the laboratory that can be used in diagnosis or treatment. In cancer treatment, monoclonal antibodies may kill cancer cells directly, they may block development of tumor blood vessels, or they may help the immune system kill cancer cells.

  • Anticoagulant


    Drug that reduces the blood's ability to clot.

  • Anticonvulsant


    A drug or other substance used to prevent or stop seizures or convulsions. Also called antiepileptic.

  • Antiemetic


    A drug that prevents or relieves nausea and vomiting, common side effects of chemotherapy.

  • Antifungal


    A medicine that kills fungi, organisms that cause infections. Kids undergoing treatment for cancer are especially vulnerable to fungal infections.

  • Antihistamine


    A medicine used to relieve the symptoms of allergies like hives, stuffy nose, etc.

  • Antimetabolite


    A drug that is very similar to natural chemicals in a normal biochemical reaction in cells but different enough to interfere with the normal division and functions of cells.

  • Antioxidants


    Compounds that hold back chemical reactions with oxygen (oxidation) and are thought to reduce the risk of some cancers. Examples are vitamins C and E and beta-carotene.

  • Antitumor


    Having to do with stopping abnormal cell growth.

  • Antiviral


    A drug used to treat infections caused by viruses.

  • Anxiety


    Feelings of fear, dread, and uneasiness that may occur as a reaction to stress. A person with anxiety may sweat, feel restless and tense, and have a rapid heart beat. Extreme anxiety that happens often over time may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

  • Apheresis


    A procedure in which blood is collected, part of the blood such as platelets or white blood cells is taken out, and the rest of the blood is returned to the donor. Also called pheresis.

  • Aplastic anemia

    AY-PLAS-tik uh-NEE-mee-uh

    A condition in which the bone marrow is unable to produce blood cells.

  • Arterial blood gas

    The amount of oxygen in your blood.

  • Artery


    A vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the tissues. Blood is under pressure in arteries.

  • Aspirate


    Refers to fluid, tissue, or other substance that is withdrawn from a body cavity, cyst, or tumor. Refers to the act of withdrawing the fluid, tissue, or other substance through a needle. It also refers to the accidental breathing in of food or fluid into the lungs. This can cause serious problems, such as pneumonia and other lung problems.

  • Aspiration


    To draw out by suction.

  • Assent process

    (uh-SENT PRAH-ses)

    A process that is required by law in which children or adolescents are given easy-to-understand information about a clinical trial to help them decide if they want to take part in the trial. The patient is given a chance to ask questions about what will happen during the trial, why it’s being done, and what they will be asked to do. Formal consent to enter the trial comes from the parent or guardian.

  • Atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor

    (RAB-doyd TOO-mer)

    An aggressive cancer of the central nervous system, kidney, or liver that occurs in very young children. Also called AT/RT and ATT/RHT.

  • Audiogram

    A diagnostic test that is done to evaluate your hearing.

  • Auditory


    Having to do with the ear and the sense of hearing.

  • Auto syringe

    A portable pump to administer medications subcutaneously or intravenously over several days. This allows you to be ambulatory.

  • Autoimmune disease

    (AW-toh-ih-MYOON dih-ZEEZ)

    A condition in which the body recognizes its own tissues as foreign and directs an immune response against them.

  • Autologous bone marrow transplant

    (aw-TAH-luh-gus bone MAYR-oh tranz-plan-TAY-shun)

    When your own bone marrow is used.

  • Avelox


    A drug used to treat bacterial infections. It is a type of fluoroquinolone. Also called moxifloxacin and moxifloxacin hydrochloride.

  • Avoidance


    The act of staying away from people, places, and thoughts that may cause anxiety, pain, or unpleasant feelings. Some types of cancer-related avoidance include refusing to accept a cancer diagnosis or get treatment, and using alcohol or other drugs to forget about having cancer.