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  • Cachexia

    (kuh-KEK-see-uh)

    Loss of body weight and muscle mass, and weakness that may occur in patients with cancer, AIDS, or other chronic diseases.

  • Calcification

    (KAL-sih-fih-KAY-shun)

    Deposits of calcium in the tissues. Calcification in the breast can be seen on a mammogram, but cannot be detected by touch. There are two types of breast calcification, macrocalcification and microcalcification. Macrocalcifications are large deposits and are usually not related to cancer. Microcalcifications are specks of calcium that may be found in an area of rapidly dividing cells. Many microcalcifications clustered together may be a sign of cancer.

  • Calcium

    (KAL-see-um)

    A mineral needed for healthy teeth, bones, and other body tissues. It is the most common mineral in the body. A deposit of calcium in body tissues, such as breast tissue, may be a sign of disease.

  • Calories

    (KA-luh-rees)

    A measurement of the energy content of food. The body needs calories as to perform its functions, such as breathing, circulating the blood, and physical activity. When a person is sick, their body may need extra calories to fight fever or other problems.

  • Cancer

    (KAN-ser)

    Develops when cells in your body begin to grow out of control. Normal cells grow, divide, and die naturally. Instead of dying, cancer cells continue to grow and form new abnormal cells. Cancer cells often travel to other body parts where they grow and replace normal tissue. This process is called metastasis. Cancer cells develop because of damage to DNA. DNA is in every cell and directs all its activities. When DNA becomes damaged, the body is usually able to repair it. In cancer cells, the damage is not repaired. People can inherit damaged DNA, which accounts for inherited cancers. Many times, DNA becomes damaged by exposure to something in the environment, like smoking. Many cancers have no known cause.

  • Cancer-related post-traumatic stress

    (KAN-ser-ree-LAY-ted post-traw-MA-tik stress)

    A condition that develops in some people who are diagnosed with cancer. Symptoms of cancer-related post-traumatic stress (PTS) include having frightening thoughts or trouble sleeping, being distracted or overexcited, feeling alone, or losing interest in daily activities. Symptoms may also include feelings of shock, fear, helplessness, or horror. Cancer-related PTS can occur anytime after diagnosis, including during or after treatment. Relaxation training, counseling, support groups, and certain medicines may be used to reduce symptoms of PTS.

  • Cancer subtype

    (KAN-ser SUB-tipe)

    Describes the smaller groups that a type of cancer can be divided into, based on certain characteristics of the cancer cells. These characteristics include how the cancer cells look under a microscope and whether there are certain substances in or on the cells or certain changes to the DNA of the cells. It is important to know the subtype of a cancer in order to plan treatment and determine prognosis.

  • Cancer treatment vaccine

    (KAN-ser TREET-ment vak-SEEN)

    A type of vaccine that is usually made from a patient’s own tumor cells or from substances taken from tumor cells. A cancer vaccine may help the immune system kill cancer cells. Also called cancer vaccine.

  • Cancer vaccine

    (KAN-ser vak-SEEN)

    A type of vaccine that is usually made from a patient’s own tumor cells or from substances taken from tumor cells. A cancer vaccine may help the immune system kill cancer cells. Also called cancer treatment vaccine.

  • Candidiasis

    (KAN-dih-DY-uh-sis)

    A condition in which Candida albicans, a type of yeast, grows out of control in moist skin areas of the body. It is usually a result of a weakened immune system, but can be a side effect of chemotherapy or treatment with antibiotics. Candidiasis usually affects the mouth (oral candidiasis); however, rarely, it spreads throughout the entire body. Also called candidosis and thrush.

  • Capillaries

    Tiny blood vessels located throughout the tissues of your body which connect your arteries with your veins and through which substances pass to nourish your cells.

  • CAR T-cell

    (kar T-sel)

    A type of treatment in which a patient's T cells (a type of immune system cell) are changed in the laboratory so they will attack cancer cells. T cells are taken from a patient’s blood. Then the gene for a special receptor that binds to a certain protein on the patient’s cancer cells is added in the laboratory. The special receptor is called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). Large numbers of the CAR T cells are grown in the laboratory and given to the patient by infusion. CAR T-cell therapy is being studied in the treatment of some types of cancer. Also called chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy.

  • Carcinogen

    (kar-SIH-noh-jin)

    Any substance that causes cancer.

  • Cardiac

    (KAR-dee-ak)

    Pertaining to your heart.

  • Cardiologist

    (KAR-dee-AH-loh-jist)

    A doctor who has special training to diagnose and treat diseases of the heart and blood vessels.

  • Cardiopulmonary

    (KAR-dee-oh-PUL-muh-NAYR-ee)

    Having to do with the heart and lung.

  • Caregiver

    (KAYR-gih-ver)

    A person who gives care to people who need help taking care of themselves. Examples include children, the elderly, or patients who have chronic illnesses or are disabled. Caregivers may be health professionals, family members, friends, social workers, or members of the clergy. They may give care at home or in a hospital or other health care setting.

  • Case-control study

    (kays-kun-TROLE STUH-dee)

    A study that compares two groups of people: those with the disease or condition under study (cases) and a very similar group of people who do not have the disease or condition (controls). Researchers study the medical and lifestyle histories of the people in each group to learn what factors may be associated with the disease or condition. For example, one group may have been exposed to a particular substance that the other was not. Also called retrospective study.

  • Case management nurse

    (... MA-nij-ment ...)

    A registered nurse who has special training in how to plan, manage, and evaluate all aspects of patient care, especially for patients who get treatment over a long time. Also called nurse case manager.

  • Case report

    (kays reh-PORT)

    A detailed report of the diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of an individual patient. Case reports also contain some demographic information about the patient (for example, age, gender, ethnic origin).

  • Case series

    (kays SEER-eez)

    A group or series of case reports involving patients who were given similar treatment. Reports of case series usually contain detailed information about the individual patients. This includes demographic information (for example, age, gender, ethnic origin) and information on diagnosis, treatment, response to treatment, and follow-up after treatment.

  • Cataracts

    (KA-tuh-RAKT)

    A condition in which the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Symptoms include blurred, cloudy, or double vision; sensitivity to light; and difficulty seeing at night. Without treatment, cataracts can cause blindness. There are many different types and causes of cataracts. They may occur in people of all ages, but are most common in the elderly.

  • Catecholamines

    ka-teh-KOH-luh-meen

    A type of neurohormone (a chemical that is made by nerve cells and used to send signals to other cells). Catecholamines are important in stress responses. High levels cause high blood pressure which can lead to headaches, sweating, pounding of the heart, pain in the chest, and anxiety. Examples of catecholamines include dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine (noradrenaline).

  • Catheter

    (KA-theh-ter)

    Flexible tube used to deliver fluids into or withdraw fluids from the body.

  • Cell

    sel

    The basic unit of which all living things are made. Cells replace themselves by splitting and forming new cells (mitosis). The processes that control the formation of new cells and the death of old cells are disrupted in cancer.

  • Cell morphology

    Refers to cell types or structure.

  • Cellulitis

    (sel-yoo-LY-tis)

    An inflammation of body tissue (especially that below the skin). It may be accompanied by fever, redness, swelling and warmth at the site.

  • Central nervous system

    (SEN-trul NER-vus SIS-tem)

    Refers to the brain and spinal cord.

  • Central venous catheter

    (SEN-trul VEE-nus KA-theh-ter)

    A device used to draw blood and give treatments, including intravenous fluids, drugs, or blood transfusions. A thin, flexible tube is inserted into a vein, usually below the collarbone. It is guided (threaded) into a large vein above the right side of the heart called the superior vena cava. A needle is inserted into a port outside of the body to draw blood or give fluids. A central venous access catheter may stay in place for weeks or months and helps avoid the need for repeated needle sticks. There are several types of central venous access catheters.

  • Cerebellar mutism

    (SAYR-eh-BEH-ler MYOO-tih-zum)

    A condition that may occur in patients who have had surgery to remove a tumor in certain parts of the brain, including the cerebellum. Cerebellar mutism syndrome usually appears 1 or 2 days after surgery. Symptoms include loss of speech, trouble swallowing and eating, loss of balance, trouble walking, loss of muscle tone, mood swings, and changes in personality. Many of these symptoms go away over time.

  • Cerebellum

    (SAYR-eh-BEH-lum)

    The portion of the brain in the back of the head between the cerebrum and the brain stem. The cerebellum controls balance for walking and standing, and other complex motor functions.

  • Cerebral spinal fluid

    Fluid at the brain and spine.

  • Cerebrospinal fluid

    seh-REE-broh-SPY-nul FLOO-id

    The fluid that flows in and around the hollow spaces of the brain and spinal cord, and between two of the meninges (the thin layers of tissue that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord). Cerebrospinal fluid is made by tissue called the choroid plexus in the ventricles (hollow spaces) in the brain. Also called CSF.

  • Cerebrum

    seh-REE-brum

    The largest part of the brain. It is divided into two hemispheres, or halves, called the cerebral hemispheres. Areas within the cerebrum control muscle functions and also control speech, thought, emotions, reading, writing, and learning.

  • Cervix

    (SER-vix)

    The lower, narrow end of the uterus that forms a canal between the uterus and vagina.

  • Charts

    Your written medical records.

  • Chemotherapy

    (KEE-moh-THAYR-uh-pee)

    Using chemical agents or drugs to destroy malignant cells. Chemotherapy is often used with surgery or radiation to treat cancer. Some chemotherapy treatment plans have different phases: Induction -intensive treatment used to produce a complete remission. Maintenance - drugs given after the initial "induction" to maintain the remission.

  • Chest wall

    The muscles, bones, and joints that make up the area of the body between the neck and the abdomen.

  • Child-life specialist

    (... SPEH-shuh-list)

    A healthcare professional who is trained in the emotional and developmental needs of children. The child-life specialist helps children and their families understand medical issues and gives psychological and emotional support. Also called child-life worker.

  • Childhood cancer

    ... KAN-ser

    A term used to describe cancers that occur between birth and 15 years of age. Childhood cancers are very rare and may differ from adult cancers in the way they grow and spread, how they are treated, and how they respond to treatment. Common types of childhood cancer include leukemia (begins in blood-forming tissue such as bone marrow), lymphoma (begins in the cells of the immune system), neuroblastoma (begins in certain nerve cells), retinoblastoma (begins in the tissues of the retina), Wilms tumor (a type of kidney cancer), and cancers of the brain, bone, and soft tissue.

  • Childhood cancer risk group

    (... KAN-ser risk groop)

    A group of children with cancer that has been formed based on certain characteristics of the children and their disease. These may include age at diagnosis, stage of cancer, and cancer biology. Risk groups may also be based on the chance of being cured or the chance that the cancer will come back. Childhood cancer risk groups are used to plan treatment and follow-up care for certain types of cancer, such as neuroblastoma and rhabdomyosarcoma. Risk groups may be described as low risk, intermediate risk, or high risk.

  • Children's Oncology Group

    A group of clinical cancer research organizations that get support from the National Cancer Institute to study childhood cancers. The main goal of Children's Oncology Group is to conduct clinical trials of new treatments for childhood and adolescent cancers at cancer centers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Also called COG.

  • Cholesterol

    (koh-LES-teh-rol)

    A waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver, and found in the blood and in all cells of the body. Cholesterol is important for good health and is needed for making cell walls, tissues, hormones, vitamin D, and bile acid. Cholesterol also comes from eating foods taken from animals such as egg yolks, meat, and whole-milk dairy products. Too much cholesterol in the blood may build up in blood vessel walls, block blood flow to tissues and organs, and increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

  • Chromosome

    (KROH-muh-some)

    Part of a cell that contains genetic information. Except for sperm and eggs, all human cells contain 46 chromosomes.

  • Chromosome 13

    (KROH-muh-some...)

    One of a pair of chromosomes that is part of the 46 chromosomes found in the nucleus of most human cells. Specific changes in chromosome 3 may be found in patients with certain genetic conditions or some types of cancer, including bladder cancer. Checking for these changes may help diagnose cancer or find out if cancer has come back. Chromosome 3 is a type of tumor marker.

  • Chromosome 17

    (KROH-muh-some...)

    One of a pair of chromosomes that is part of the 46 chromosomes found in the nucleus of most human cells. Specific changes in chromosome 17 may be found in patients with certain genetic conditions and some types of cancer, including bladder cancer, brain cancer, and leukemia. Checking for these changes may help diagnose cancer or find out if cancer has come back. Chromosome 17 is a type of tumor marker.

  • Chromosome 7

    (KROH-muh-some...)

    One of a pair of chromosomes that is part of the 46 chromosomes found in the nucleus of most human cells. Specific changes in chromosome 7 may be found in patients with certain genetic conditions or some types of cancer, including bladder cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma. Checking for these changes may help diagnose cancer or find out if cancer has come back. Chromosome 7 is a type of tumor marker.

  • Chromosomes

    KROH-muh-some

    Thread-like structures that hold all the genes. Except for sperm and egg cells, each human cell carries 23 pairs of chromosomes. In total, each person’s cells have 46 chromosomes, 23 come from the mother and 23 come from the father.

  • Chronic

    (KRAH-nik)

    A disease or condition that persists or progresses over a long period of time.

  • Chronic myeloid leukemia

    KRAH-nik MY-eh-loyd loo-KEE-mee-uh

    An indolent (slow-growing) cancer in which too many myeloblasts are found in the blood and bone marrow. Myeloblasts are a type of immature blood cell that makes white blood cells called myeloid cells. Chronic myeloid leukemia may get worse over time as the number of myeloblasts increases in the blood and bone marrow. This may cause fever, fatigue, easy bleeding, anemia, infection, a swollen spleen, bone pain, or other signs and symptoms. Chronic myeloid leukemia is usually marked by a chromosome change called the Philadelphia chromosome, in which a piece of chromosome 9 and a piece of chromosome 22 break off and trade places with each other. It usually occurs in older adults and rarely occurs in children. Also called chronic granulocytic leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, and CML.

  • Cimetidine

    (sy-MEH-tih-deen)

    A drug usually used to treat stomach ulcers and heartburn. It is also commonly used in a regimen to prevent allergic reactions.

  • Circadian Rhythm

    (sir-KAY-dee-un RIH-thum)

    The natural cycle of physical, mental, and behavior changes that the body goes through in a 24-hour cycle. Circadian rhythms are mostly affected by light and darkness and are controlled by a small area in the middle of the brain. They can affect sleep, body temperature, hormones, appetite, and other body functions. Abnormal circadian rhythms may be linked to obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and sleep disorders such as insomnia. Circadian rhythm is sometimes called the “body’s clock.”

  • Circulation

    (ser-kyoo-LAY-shun)

    In the body, the flow of blood through the heart and blood vessels, and the flow of lymph through the lymph vessels.

  • Circulatory system

    (SER-kyoo-lah-tor-ee SIS-tem)

    The system that contains the heart and the blood vessels and moves blood throughout the body. This system helps tissues get enough oxygen and nutrients, and it helps them get rid of waste products. The lymph system, which connects with the blood system, is often considered part of the circulatory system.

  • Cirrhosis

    (seh-ROH-sis)

    A type of chronic, progressive liver disease in which liver cells are replaced by scar tissue.

  • Cisplatin

    sis-PLA-tin

    A drug used to treat certain types of bladder, ovarian, and testicular cancer. It is used in patients whose cancer cannot be treated with or has not gotten better with other anticancer treatment. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Cisplatin contains the metal platinum. It kills cancer cells by damaging their DNA and stopping them from dividing. Cisplatin is a type of DNA crosslinking agent. The brand name Platinol has been taken off the market and is no longer available.

  • Clinical

    (KLIH-nih-kul)

    In general, pertaining to observation and treatment of patients.

  • Clinical researcher

    (KLIH-nih-kul REE-ser-cher)

    A health professional who works directly with patients, or uses data from patients, to do research on health and disease and to develop new treatments. Clinical researchers may also do research on how health care practices affect health and disease.

  • Clinical resistance

    (KLIH-nih-kul reh-ZIH-stunts)

    The failure of a cancer to shrink after treatment.

  • Clinical series

    (KLIH-nih-kul SEER-eez)

    A case series in which the patients receive treatment in a clinic or other medical facility.

  • Clinical stage

    (KLIH-nih-kul STAY-jing)

    The stage of cancer (amount or spread of cancer in the body) that is based on tests that are done before surgery. These include physical exams, imaging tests, laboratory tests (such as blood tests), and biopsies.

  • Clinical study

    (KLIH-nih-kul STUH-dee)

    A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a disease. Also called clinical trial.

  • Clinical trial phase

    (KLIH-nih-kul TRY-ul fayz)

    A part of the clinical research process that answers specific questions about whether treatments that are being studied work and are safe. Phase I trials test the best way to give a new treatment and the best dose. Phase II trials test whether a new treatment has an effect on the disease. Phase III trials compare the results of people taking a new treatment with the results of people taking the standard treatment. Phase IV trials are done using thousands of people after a treatment has been approved and marketed, to check for side effects that were not seen in the phase III trial.

  • Clinical trial sponsor

    (KLIH-nih-kul TRY-ul SPON-ser)

    A person, company, institution, group, or organization that oversees or pays for a clinical trial and collects and analyzes the data. Also called trial sponsor.

  • Clinical trial

    KLIH-nih-kul TRY-ul

    A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a disease. Also called clinical study.

  • Clinician

    (klih-NIH-shun)

    A health professional who takes care of patients.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    (KOG-nih-tiv beh-HAY-vyer THAYR-uh-pee)

    A type of psychotherapy that helps patients change their behavior by changing the way they think and feel about certain things. It is used to treat mental, emotional, personality, and behavioral disorders. Also called CBT and cognitive therapy.

  • Cohort

    (KOH-hort)

    A group of individuals who share a common trait, such as birth year. In medicine, a cohort is a group that is part of a clinical trial or study and is observed over a period of time.

  • Cohort study

    (KOH-hort STUH-dee)

    A research study that compares a particular outcome (such as lung cancer) in groups of individuals who are alike in many ways but differ by a certain characteristic (for example, female nurses who smoke compared with those who do not smoke).

  • Collagen

    (KAH-luh-jen)

    A fibrous protein found in cartilage and other connective tissue.

  • Colon

    (KOH-lun)

    The longest part of the large intestine, which is a tube-like organ connected to the small intestine at one end and the anus at the other. The colon removes water and some nutrients and electrolytes from partially digested food. The remaining material, solid waste called stool, moves through the colon to the rectum and leaves the body through the anus.

  • Colonoscopy

    (KOH-luh-NOS-koh-pee)

    Examination of the inside of the colon using a colonoscope, inserted into the rectum. A colonoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease.

  • Colony stimulating factors

    Types of growth factors that promote growth and division of blood-producing cells in the bone marrow. CSFs are naturally produced in the body but extra amounts may be given as a treatment to reduce or prevent certain side effects of chemotherapy due to not having enough blood cells.

  • Colorectal

    (KOH-loh-REK-tul)

    Having to do with the colon or the rectum.

  • Colorectal cancer

    (KOH-loh-REK-tul KAN-ser)

    Cancer that develops in the colon (the longest part of the large intestine) and/or the rectum (the last several inches of the large intestine before the anus).

  • Combination Chemotherapy

    (KOM-bih-NAY-shun KEE-moh-THAYR-uh-pee)

    Treatment using more than one anticancer drug.

  • Combination therapy

    (KOM-bih-NAY-shun THAYR-uh-pee)

    Therapy that combines more than one method of treatment. Also called multimodality therapy and multimodality treatment.

  • Comfort care

    (KUM-furt kayr)

    Care given to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease. The goal of comfort care is to prevent or treat as early as possible the symptoms of a disease, side effects caused by treatment of a disease, and psychological, social, and spiritual problems related to a disease or its treatment. Also called palliative care, supportive care, and symptom management.

  • Complementary And Alternative Medicine

    (KOM-pleh-MEN-tuh-ree... all-TER-nuh-tiv MEH-dih-sin)

    Forms of treatment that are used in addition to (complementary) or instead of (alternative) standard treatments. These practices generally are not considered standard medical approaches. Standard treatments go through a long and careful research process to prove they are safe and effective, but less is known about most types of complementary and alternative medicine. Complementary and alternative medicine may include dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, acupuncture, massage therapy, magnet therapy, spiritual healing, and meditation. Also called CAM.

  • Complementary therapy

    Therapies used in addition to conventional therapy. Some complementary therapies may help relieve certain symptoms of cancer, relieve side effects of conventional cancer therapy, or improve a patient's sense of well-being.

  • Complete blood count

    (kum-PLEET blud kownt)

    An examination of your blood that enables doctors to follow the course of your disease and to select the proper dosage of the appropriate chemotherapeutic drug. White blood count (WBC) refers to the number of leucocytes per cubic millimeter present in your peripheral blood. ""Diff"" (differential count) refers to the distribution of the various types of white cells in the peripheral blood; the values are expressed in percentages. Platelet count refers to the number or quantity of platelets per cubic millimeter present in your peripheral blood. Hemoglobin refers to the substance that carries oxygen to other tissues of the body. It is expressed as a percentage of total blood weight. Hematocrit refers to the packed volume of red cells separated from the plasma when whole blood is centrifuged (spun). It is expressed as a percentage. ""Retic"" (reticulocyte count) refers to the percentage of young, non-nucleated erythrocytes present in your peripheral blood.

  • Complete remission

    (kum-PLEET reh-MIH-shun)

    The disappearance of all signs of cancer in response to treatment. This does not always mean the cancer has been cured.

  • Compliance

    (kum-PLY-unts)

    The act of following a medical regimen or schedule correctly and consistently, including taking medicines or following a diet.

  • Complication

    (kom-plih-KAY-shun)

    In medicine, a medical problem that occurs during a disease, or after a procedure or treatment. The complication may be caused by the disease, procedure, or treatment or may be unrelated to them.

  • Comprehensive cancer center

    (KOM-pree-HEN-siv KAN-ser ...)

    A cancer research center that gets support from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to do cancer research and provide services directly to cancer patients. Scientists and doctors at these centers do basic laboratory research and clinical trials, and they study the patterns, causes, and control of cancer in groups of people. Also, they take part in multicenter clinical trials, which enroll patients from many parts of the country. Comprehensive Cancer Centers also give cancer information to health care professionals and the public.

  • Comprehensive pediatric cancer center

    (KOM-pree-HEN-siv pee-dee-A-trik ...)

    A cancer research center that gets support from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Scientists and doctors at these centers do basic laboratory research and clinical trials on childhood cancers, and they study the patterns, causes, and control of cancer in groups of children. Also, they treat patients from many parts of the country and give cancer information to health care professionals and the public.

  • Compression

    (kum-PREH-shun)

    A pressing or squeezing together. In medicine, it can describe a structure, such as a tumor, that presses on another part of the body, such as a nerve. It can also describe the flattening of soft tissue, such as the breast, that occurs during a mammogram (x-ray of the breast).

  • Computed Tomography

    (kum-PYOO-teh-RIZED toh-MAH-gruh-fee)

    A procedure that uses a computer linked to an x-ray machine to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are taken from different angles and are used to create 3-dimensional (3-D) views of tissues and organs. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the tissues and organs show up more clearly. A computerized tomography may be used to help diagnose disease, plan treatment, or find out how well treatment is working.

  • Concurrent therapy

    (kun-KER-ent THAYR-uh-pee)

    A treatment that is given at the same time as another.

  • Cone biopsy

    (kone BY-op-see)

    A procedure in which a cone-shaped piece of abnormal tissue is removed from the cervix. A scalpel, a laser knife, or a thin wire loop heated by an electric current may be used to remove the tissue. The tissue is then checked under a microscope for signs of disease. Cone biopsy may be used to check for cervical cancer or to treat certain cervical conditions. Types of cone biopsy are LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure) and cold knife conization (cold knife cone biopsy). Also called conization.

  • Congenital

    (kun-JEH-nih-tul)

    A condition or trait present at birth. It may be the result of genetic or non-genetic factors.

  • Conjunctivitis

    (kun-JUNK-tih-VY-tis)

    A condition in which the conjunctiva (membranes lining the eyelids and covering the white part of the eye) become inflamed or infected. Also called pinkeye.

  • Consent form

    (kun-SENT ...)

    A document with important information about a medical procedure or treatment, a clinical trial, or genetic testing. It also includes information on possible risks and benefits. If a person chooses to take part in the treatment, procedure, trial, or testing, he or she signs the form to give official consent.

  • Consent process

    (kun-SENT PRAH-ses)

    A process in which patients are given important information, including possible risks and benefits, about a medical procedure or treatment, a clinical trial, or genetic testing. This is to help them decide if they want to be treated, tested, or take part in the trial. Patients are also given any new information that might affect their decision to continue.

  • Consolidation therapy

    (kun-SAH-lih-DAY-shun THAYR-uh-pee)

    Treatment that is given after cancer has disappeared following the initial therapy. Consolidation therapy is used to kill any cancer cells that may be left in the body. It may include radiation therapy, a stem cell transplant, or treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells.

  • Constipation

    (KON-stih-PAY-shun)

    A condition in which stool becomes hard, dry, and difficult to pass, and bowel movements don’t happen very often. Other symptoms may include painful bowel movements, and feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and sluggish.

  • Consultation

    The formal process of getting the opinion of a specialist.

  • Contagious

    Communicable through human contact.

  • Continuous Infusion

    (kon-TIN-yoo-us in-FYOO-zhun)

    The administration of a fluid into a blood vessel, usually over a prolonged period of time.

  • Contraception

    (KON-truh-SEP-shun)

    The use of drugs, devices, or surgery to prevent pregnancy. There are many different types of contraception. These include barrier methods to keep sperm from fertilizing the egg, hormone methods, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and surgery to close the fallopian tubes in women or close off the two tubes that carry sperm out of the testicles in men. Also called birth control.

  • Contracture

    (kun-TRAK-cher)

    A permanent tightening of the muscles, tendons, skin, and nearby tissues that causes the joints to shorten and become very stiff. This prevents normal movement of a joint or other body part. Contractures may be caused by injury, scarring, and nerve damage, or by not using the muscles. It may also occur at some point in time after a stem cell transplant that caused chronic graft-versus-host disease.

  • Contraindication

    (KON-truh-IN-dih-KAY-shun)

    A symptom or medical condition that makes a particular treatment or procedure inadvisable because a person is likely to have a bad reaction. For example, having a bleeding disorder is a contraindication for taking aspirin because treatment with aspirin may cause excess bleeding.

  • Contralateral

    (KON-truh-LA-teh-rul)

    Having to do with the opposite side of the body.

  • Contrast material

    (KON-trast muh-TEER-ee-ul)

    A dye or other substance that helps show abnormal areas inside the body. It is given by injection into a vein, by enema, or by mouth. Contrast material may be used with x-rays, CT scans, MRI, or other imaging tests.

  • Control group

    (kun-TROLE groop)

    In a clinical trial, the group that does not receive the new treatment being studied. This group is compared to the group that receives the new treatment, to see if the new treatment works.

  • Controlled clinical trial

    (kun-TROLD KLIH-nih-kul TRY-ul)

    A clinical study that includes a comparison (control) group. The comparison group receives a placebo, another treatment, or no treatment at all.

  • Controlled study

    (kun-TROLD STUH-dee)

    An experiment or clinical trial that includes a comparison (control) group.

  • Controlled substance

    (kun-TROLD SUB-stunts)

    A drug or other substance that is tightly controlled by the government because it may be abused or cause addiction. The control applies to the way the substance is made, used, handled, stored, and distributed. Controlled substances include opioids, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, and anabolic steroids. Controlled substances with known medical use, such as morphine, Valium, and Ritalin, are available only by prescription from a licensed medical professional. Other controlled substances, such as heroin and LSD, have no known medical use and are illegal in the United States.

  • Conventional medicine

    (kun-VEN-shuh-nul MEH-dih-sin)

    A system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery. Also called allopathic medicine, biomedicine, mainstream medicine, orthodox medicine, and Western medicine.

  • Conventional therapy

    (kun-VEN-shuh-nul THAYR-uh-pee)

    Treatment that is widely accepted and used by most healthcare professionals. It is different from alternative or complementary therapies, which are not as widely used. Examples of conventional therapy for cancer include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Also called conventional treatment.

  • Convulsion

    (kun-VUL-zhun)

    A violent contraction and spasm of your muscles over which you have no control.

  • Cope

    (kope)

    To adjust to new situations and overcome problems.

  • Coping skills

    (KOH-ping skilz)

    The methods a person uses to deal with stressful situations. These may help a person face a situation, take action, and be flexible and persistent in solving problems.

  • Core biopsy

    (... BY-op-see)

    The removal of a tissue sample with a wide needle for examination under a microscope. Also called core needle biopsy.

  • Cornea

    (KOR-nee-uh)

    The transparent part of the eye that covers the iris and the pupil and allows light to enter the inside.

  • Corticosteroid

    (KOR-tih-koh-STAYR-oyd)

    Any steroid hormone made in the adrenal cortex (the outer part of the adrenal gland). They are also made in the laboratory. Corticosteroids have many different effects in the body, and are used to treat many different conditions. They may be used as hormone replacement, to suppress the immune system, and to treat some side effects of cancer and its treatment. Corticosteroids are also used to treat certain lymphomas and lymphoid leukemias.

  • Cortisol

    KOR-tih-sol

    A hormone made by the adrenal cortex (the outer layer of the adrenal gland). It helps the body use glucose (a sugar), protein, and fats. Cortisol made in the laboratory is called hydrocortisone. It is used to treat many conditions, including inflammation, allergies, and some cancers. Cortisol is a type of glucocorticoid hormone.

  • Counselors

    (KOWN-seh-ler)

    A specialist who talks to patients and their families about emotional and personal matters, and can help them make decisions. Also called mental health counselor.

  • Craniopharyngioma

    (KRAY-nee-oh-fuh-RIN-jee-OH-muh)

    A rare, benign (not cancer) brain tumor that usually forms near the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. Craniopharyngiomas are slow-growing and do not spread to other parts of the brain or to other parts of the body. However, they may grow and press on nearby parts of the brain, including the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, optic chiasm, optic nerves, and fluid-filled spaces in the brain. This may cause problems with growth, vision, and making certain hormones. Craniopharyngiomas usually occur in children and young adults.

  • Craniotomy

    (KRAY-nee-AH-toh-mee)

    An operation in which a piece of the skull is removed. A craniotomy may be done so doctors can remove a brain tumor or abnormal brain tissue. It may also be done to remove blood or blood clots from the brain, relieve pressure in the brain after an injury or stroke, repair a brain aneurysm (a bulge in a blood vessel wall) or skull fractures, or treat other brain conditions. The piece of skull that is removed is usually put back in place after the brain problem has been treated.

  • Creatinine

    (kree-A-tih-neen)

    A compound that is excreted from the body in urine. Creatinine levels are measured to monitor kidney function.

  • Crizotinib

    (krih-ZOH-tih-nib)

    A drug used to treat non-small cell lung cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. It is used in patients whose cancer is anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) positive or ROS1 positive. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Crizotinib blocks the proteins made by the ALK and ROS1 genes. Blocking these proteins may stop the growth and spread of cancer cells. Crizotinib may also prevent the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow. It is a type of tyrosine kinase inhibitor and a type of antiangiogenesis agent. Also called Xalkori.

  • Crohn Disease

    (krone dih-ZEEZ)

    A condition in which the gastrointestinal tract is inflamed over a long period of time. Crohn disease usually affects the small intestine and colon. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and weight loss. Crohn disease increases the risk of colorectal cancer and small intestine cancer. It is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Also called regional enteritis.

  • Culture

    (KUL-cher)

    A procedure using a sample of blood, urine, throat secretions or other biological material that determines the specific organism responsible for an infection. Cultures also help determine which antibiotics might be most effective.

  • Cumulative dose

    (KYOO-myuh-luh-tiv dose)

    In medicine, the total amount of a drug or radiation given to a patient over time; for example, the total dose of radiation given in a series of radiation treatments.

  • Cumulative exposure

    (KYOO-myuh-luh-tiv ek-SPOH-zher)

    The total amount of a substance or radiation that a person is exposed to over time. Cumulative exposure to a harmful substance or radiation may increase the risk of certain diseases or conditions.

  • Cumulative risk

    (KYOO-myuh-luh-tiv risk)

    A measure of the total risk that a certain event will happen during a given period of time. In cancer research, it is the likelihood that a person who is free of a certain type of cancer will develop that cancer by a specific age. For example, a woman with no known risk factors for breast cancer has a cumulative risk of getting breast cancer over a lifetime of 90 years of about 12-13%. This means one out of every eight women will get breast cancer by age 90 years.

  • Curative surgery

    (KYOOR-uh-tiv SER-juh-ree)

    Surgery to remove all malignant (cancerous) tissue, which is meant to cure the disease. This includes removing part or all of the cancerous organ or tissue and a small amount of healthy tissue around it. Nearby lymph nodes may also be removed. Curative surgery works best for localized cancer. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be given before surgery to shrink the tumor or after surgery to kill any cancer cells that remain.

  • Cure

    (kyoor)

    To heal or restore health; a treatment to restore health.

  • Cyanotic

    A blue appearance of the skin, lips and fingernails as a result of low oxygen content of the circulating blood.

  • Cyclophosphamide

    (SY-kloh-FOS-fuh-mide)

    A drug used to treat many types of cancer. It is also used to treat a certain type of kidney disease in children. It is also being studied in the treatment of cancer. Cyclophosphamide damages the cell’s DNA and may kill cancer cells. It may also lower the body’s immune response. Cyclophosphamide is a type of alkylating agent. Also called CTX.

  • Cyst

    (sist)

    A fluid filled sac of tissue; a cyst may be malignant or benign.

  • Cystitis

    (sis-TY-tis)

    Inflammation of the urinary bladder.

  • Cytarabine

    (sy-TAYR-uh-been)

    A drug used with other drugs to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). It is also used to prevent and treat a type of leukemia that has spread to the meninges (three thin layers of tissue that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord). It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Cytarabine blocks cells from making DNA and may kill cancer cells. It is a type of antimetabolite. Also called ARA-C.

  • Cytogenetics

    (SY-toh-jeh-NEH-tix)

    The process of analyzing the number and shape of cell chromosomes.

  • Cytokine Release Syndrome

    (SY-toh-kine reh-LEES SIN-drome)

    A condition that may occur after treatment with some types of immunotherapy, such as monoclonal antibodies and CAR-T cells. Cytokine release syndrome is caused by a large, rapid release of cytokines into the blood from immune cells affected by the immunotherapy. Cytokines are immune substances that have many different actions in the body. Signs and symptoms of cytokine release syndrome include fever, nausea, headache, rash, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, and trouble breathing. Most patients have a mild reaction, but sometimes, the reaction may be severe or life threatening.

  • Cytokines

    (SY-toh-kine)

    A type of protein that is made by certain immune and non-immune cells and has an effect on the immune system. Some cytokines stimulate the immune system and others slow it down. They can also be made in the laboratory and used to help the body fight cancer, infections, and other diseases. Examples of cytokines are interleukins, interferons, and colony-stimulating factors (filgrastim, sargramostim).

  • Cytomegalovirus

    (SY-toh-MEH-guh-loh-VY-rus)

    A virus that may be carried in an inactive state for life by healthy individuals. It is a cause of severe pneumonia in people with a suppressed immune system, such as those undergoing bone marrow transplantation or those with leukemia or lymphoma. Also called CMV.