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Glossary - D


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    An abbreviation for a chemotherapy combination used to treat certain types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It includes the drugs etoposide phosphate, prednisone, vincristine sulfate (Oncovin), cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin hydrochloride (hydroxydaunorubicin), and rituximab.

  • Dasatinib


    A drug used to treat children with chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) that is Philadelphia chromosome positive (Ph+). It is also used to treat adults with certain types of CML and acute lymphoblastic leukemia that are Ph+. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Dasatinib blocks BCR-ABL and other proteins, which may help keep cancer cells from growing. It is a type of tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Also called BMS-354825 and Sprycel.

  • Decongestant

    A medicine that helps to shrink mucous membranes and decrease production of mucous.

  • Decortication


    Removal of part or all of the external surface of an organ.

  • Deep sedation

    (... seh-DAY-shun)

    A level of sedation in which a person is in a deep sleep, loses feeling, and is hard to wake up. Deep sedation is caused by special drugs and is used to help relieve anxiety during certain medical or surgical procedures. Oxygen may also be given to help the patient breathe and drugs that relieve pain may be given at the same time. The patient usually does not remember the procedure.

  • Deficiency


    In medicine, a shortage of a substance (such as a vitamin or mineral) needed by the body.

  • Definitive diagnosis

    (deh-FIH-nih-tiv DY-ug-NOH-sis)

    A final diagnosis that is made after getting the results of tests, such as blood tests and biopsies, that are done to find out if a certain disease or condition is present.

  • Definitive treatment

    (deh-FIH-nih-tiv TREET-ment)

    The treatment plan for a disease or disorder that has been chosen as the best one for a patient after all other choices have been considered.

  • Dehydration


    A depletion of body fluids.

  • Delirium


    A mental state in which a person is confused, disoriented, and not able to think or remember clearly. The person may also be agitated and have hallucinations, and extreme excitement.

  • Denial


    In psychiatry, a state in which a person is unable or unwilling to see the truth or reality about an issue or situation.

  • Denileukin diftitox

    (DEH-nih-LOO-kin DIF-tih-tox)

    A drug used to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma that has recurred (come back) or has not gotten better with other treatment. It is used in patients whose cancer has a receptor for the protein interleukin-2 (IL-2). It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Denileukin diftitox is made by combining IL-2 with a bacterial toxin. The IL-2 part of the drug attaches to the cancer cells and the toxin kills them. Denileukin diftitox is a type of immunotoxin and a type of fusion protein. Also called Ontak.

  • Deoxyribonucleic acid


    The molecules inside cells that carry genetic information and pass it from one generation to the next. Also called DNA.

  • Depression


    A mental condition marked by ongoing feelings of sadness, despair, loss of energy, and difficulty dealing with normal daily life. Other symptoms of depression include feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, loss of pleasure in activities, changes in eating or sleeping habits, and thoughts of death or suicide. Depression can affect anyone, and can be successfully treated. Depression affects 15-25% of cancer patients.

  • Dermal

    Pertaining to your skin.

  • Dermatitis


    Inflammation of the skin.

  • Dermatologist


    A doctor who has special training to diagnose and treat skin problems.

  • Deviant


    Different from what is normal or standard, especially in terms of behavior.

  • Diabetes


    Any of several diseases in which the kidneys make a large amount of urine. Diabetes usually refers to diabetes mellitus in which there is also a high level of glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood because the body does not make enough insulin or use it the way it should.

  • Diabetes insipidus

    (dy-uh-BEE-teez in-SIH-pih-dus)

    A condition in which a person is very thirsty and makes large amounts of urine. The most common types of diabetes insipidus are central diabetes insipidus (a pituitary disorder) and nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (kidney failure). Diabetes insipidus is not related to diabetes mellitus, which is more common.

  • Diagnosis


    The process of identifying a disease, condition, or injury from its signs and symptoms. A health history, physical exam, and tests, such as blood tests, imaging tests, and biopsies, may be used to help make a diagnosis.

  • Diagnostic procedure

    (DY-ug-NAH-stik proh-SEE-jer)

    A type of test used to help diagnose a disease or condition. Mammograms and colonoscopies are examples of diagnostic procedures. Also called diagnostic test.

  • Diagnostic technique

    (DY-ug-NAH-stik tek-NEEK)

    A type of method or test used to help diagnose a disease or condition. Imaging tests and tests to measure blood pressure, pulse, and temperature are examples of diagnostic techniques.

  • Diagnostic trial

    (DY-ug-NAH-stik TRY-ul)

    A research study that evaluates methods of detecting disease.

  • Dialysis


    The process of filtering the blood when the kidneys are not able to cleanse it.

  • Diaphragm


    The thin muscle below the lungs and heart that separates the chest from the abdomen.

  • Diarrhea


    Frequent, loose and watery stools.

  • DICER1

    Having a mutation in the DICER1 gene increases the risk of certain types of tumors, including tumors of the kidney, thyroid, ovary, cervix, testicle, brain, eye, and lining of the lung. The tumors may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). A goiter (an enlarged thyroid) and polyps in the colon may also occur. Not all people who have a mutation in the DICER1 gene will develop tumors.

  • Diet


    The things a person eats and drinks.

  • Dietary counseling

    (DY-uh-TAYR-ee KOWN-suh-ling)

    A process by which a health professional with special training in nutrition helps people make healthy food choices and form healthy eating habits. In cancer treatment, the goal of dietary counseling is to help patients stay healthy during and after treatment and to stay strong enough to fight infections and the recurrence of disease. Also called nutritional counseling.

  • Dietary protocol

    (DY-uh-TAYR-ee PROH-tuh-KOL)

    A detailed diet plan that states what, how, and when a person will eat and drink. It may be used to test how a specific diet affects a health outcome, such as lower cholesterol.

  • Dietary supplement

    (DY-uh-TAYR-ee SUH-pleh-ment)

    A product that is added to the diet. A dietary supplement is taken by mouth, and usually contains one or more dietary ingredient (such as vitamin, mineral, herb, amino acid, and enzyme). Also called nutritional supplement.

  • Dietitian


    A health professional with special training in nutrition who can help with dietary choices. Also called nutritionist.

  • Differential count

    See complete blood count.

  • Differentiation


    In biology, describes the processes by which immature cells become mature cells with specific functions. In cancer, this describes how much or how little tumor tissue looks like the normal tissue it came from. Well-differentiated cancer cells look more like normal cells and tend to grow and spread more slowly than poorly differentiated or undifferentiated cancer cells. Differentiation is used in tumor grading systems, which are different for each type of cancer.

  • Diffuse


    Widely spread; not localized or confined.

  • Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma

    (dih-FYOOS in-TRIN-sik PON-teen glee-OH-muh)

    A type of central nervous system tumor that forms from glial (supportive) tissue of the brain and spinal cord. Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma usually occurs in children. It forms in the brain stem.

  • Digestion


    The process of breaking down food into substances the body can use for energy, tissue growth, and repair.

  • Digestive system

    (dy-JES-tiv SIS-tem)

    The organs that take in food and turn it into products that the body can use to stay healthy. Waste products the body cannot use leave the body through bowel movements. The digestive system includes the salivary glands, mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, small and large intestines, and rectum.

  • Digestive tract

    (dy-JES-tiv trakt)

    The organs that food and liquids travel through when they are swallowed, digested, absorbed, and leave the body as feces. These organs include the mouth, pharynx (throat), esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus. The digestive tract is part of the digestive system. Also called alimentary tract and gastrointestinal tract.

  • Dilate

    To widen or enlarge an opening or hollow structure beyond its usual size, such as the pupil of the eye or a blood vessel.

  • Dilute


    To make something thinner, weaker, less concentrated, or less pure by adding something to it.

  • Discharge


    In medicine, a fluid that comes out of the body. Discharge can be normal or a sign of disease. Discharge also means release of a patient from care.

  • Disease

    A condition that prevents the body from working normally.

  • Disease-free survival rate

    (dih-ZEEZ ... ser-VY-vul)

    In cancer, the length of time after primary treatment for a cancer ends that the patient survives without any signs or symptoms of that cancer. In a clinical trial, measuring the disease-free survival is one way to see how well a new treatment works. Also called DFS, relapse-free survival, and RFS.

  • Disease progression

    (dih-ZEEZ pruh-GREH-shun)

    Cancer that continues to grow or spread.

  • Disinfectant


    Any substance or process that is used primarily on non-living objects to kill germs, such as viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms that can cause infection and disease. Most disinfectants are harsh chemicals but sometimes heat or radiation may be used.

  • Disorder


    In medicine, a disturbance of normal functioning of the mind or body. Disorders may be caused by genetic factors, disease, or trauma.

  • Distal


    Refers to a part of the body that is farther away from the center of the body than another part. For example, the fingers are distal to the shoulder. The opposite is proximal.

  • Distant cancer

    (DIS-tunt KAN-ser)

    Refers to cancer that has spread from the original (primary) tumor to distant organs or distant lymph nodes. Also known as distant metastasis.

  • Diuretics


    A type of drug that causes the kidneys to make more urine. Diuretics help the body get rid of extra fluid and salt. They are used to treat high blood pressure, edema (extra fluid in the tissues), and other conditions. There are many different types of diuretics. They are sometimes called water pills.

  • DNA

    The molecules inside cells that carry genetic information and pass it from one generation to the next. Also called deoxyribonucleic acid.

  • Dose


    The amount of medicine taken, or radiation given, at one time.

  • Dose-dense chemotherapy

    (dose-dents KEE-moh-THAYR-uh-pee)

    A chemotherapy treatment plan in which drugs are given with less time between treatments than in a standard chemotherapy treatment plan.

  • Dose-dependent


    Refers to the effects of treatment with a drug. If the effects change when the dose of the drug is changed, the effects are said to be dose-dependent.

  • Dose-limiting


    Describes side effects of a drug or other treatment that are serious enough to prevent an increase in dose or level of that treatment.

  • Dose-rate


    The strength of a treatment given over a period of time.

  • Dosimetrist


    A person who determines the proper radiation dose for treatment.

  • Dosimetry


    Measurement of radiation exposure from x-rays, gamma rays, or other types of radiation used in the treatment or detection of diseases, including cancer.

  • Double-blinded

    (DUH-bul BLINE-ded)

    A clinical trial in which the medical staff, the patient, and the people who analyze the results do not know the specific type of treatment the patient receives until after the clinical trial is over.

  • Down syndrome


    A genetic condition caused by having an extra chromosome 21 in some or all of the bodys cells. Down syndrome is marked by growth, developmental, and learning delays that vary from mild to severe. People with Down syndrome often have certain distinct physical features, such as a shorter-than-normal height, a flat face with a short nose, eyes that are slanted and almond-shaped, small ears, a short neck, a tongue that tends to stick out of the mouth, small hands and feet, and a deep line that goes across the palm of the hand. People with Down syndrome may also have muscle weakness, loose joints, heart defects, and other health problems.

  • Drain

    In medicine, to remove fluid as it collects; or, a tube or wick-like device used to remove fluid from a body cavity, wound, or infected area.

  • Dressing change

    The act of removing and replacing a medical implement.

  • Drug


    Any substance, other than food, that is used to prevent, diagnose, treat or relieve symptoms of a disease or abnormal condition. Also refers to a substance that alters mood or body function, or that can be habit-forming or addictive, especially a narcotic.

  • Drug abuse


    The use of illegal drugs or the use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs for purposes other than those for which they are meant to be used, or in large amounts. Drug abuse may lead to social, physical, emotional, and job-related problems.

  • Drug accountability record

    (drug-uh-KOWN-tuh-BIH-lih-tee REH-kurd)

    A log of study drugs kept by an investigator running a clinical trial. It lists many things about each drug, including the drug name, lot number, expiration date, the amount of drug received, used, returned, or thrown away, and the amount left. Drug Accountability Records help make sure that a clinical trial is done safely and correctly. Drug Accountability Records are required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Also called DAR.

  • Drug interaction


    A change in the way a drug acts in the body when taken with certain other drugs, herbals, or foods, or when taken with certain medical conditions. Drug interactions may cause the drug to be more or less effective, or cause effects on the body that are not expected.

  • Drug resistance


    The failure of cancer cells, viruses, or bacteria to respond to a drug used to kill or weaken them. The cells, viruses, or bacteria may be resistant to the drug at the beginning of treatment, or may become resistant after being exposed to the drug.

  • Drug therapy


    Treatment with any substance, other than food, that is used to prevent, diagnose, treat, or relieve symptoms of a disease or abnormal condition.

  • Drug tolerance


    A condition that occurs when the body gets used to a medicine so that either more medicine is needed or different medicine is needed.

  • Ductal Carcinoma In Situ

    (DUK-tul KAR-sih-NOH-muh in SY-too)

    A noninvasive condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct. The abnormal cells have not spread outside the duct to other tissues in the breast. In some cases, ductal carcinoma in situ may become invasive cancer and spread to other tissues. At this time, there is no way to know which lesions could become invasive. Also called DCIS and intraductal carcinoma.

  • Dye/contrast

    A substance comparatively opaque to X-rays introduced into the body to compare to an internal part with its surrounding tissue in radiographic visualization.

  • Dyscrasia


    Disease. Usually refers to diseases of the blood.

  • Dyskeratosis congenita

    (dis-KAYR-uh-TOH-sis kun-JEH-nih-tuh)

    A rare, inherited disorder that can affect many parts of the body, especially the nails, skin, and mouth.

  • Dysphagia


    Difficulty swallowing.

  • Dysplastic nevi

    dis-PLAS-tik NEE-vus

    A specific type of nevus (mole) that looks different from a common mole. Dysplastic nevi are mostly flat and often larger than common moles and have borders that are irregular. A dysplastic nevus can contain different colors, which can range from pink to dark brown. Parts of the mole may be raised above the skin surface. A dysplastic nevus may develop into melanoma (a type of skin cancer), and the more dysplastic nevi a person has, the higher the risk of melanoma. A dysplastic nevus is sometimes called an atypical mole.

  • Dyspnea


    Difficult, painful breathing or shortness of breath.

  • Dystonic reaction

    Tightening of your facial and neck muscle, a possible side effect of some antiemetic drugs.