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Glossary - I


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  • I-Med

    A machine that regulates the rate of blood transfusion, infusion of chemotherapy or fluids for hydration.

  • Ice blanket

    A blanket cooled with ice water or a refrigerant on which you lie to reduce your temperature.

  • Ileus


    Severe constipation.

  • Iliac crest

    The top edge of your hip bone from which marrow is usually taken for diagnosis of blood cell diseases.

  • Imaging test

    (IH-muh-jing ...)

    A type of test that makes detailed pictures of areas inside the body. Imaging tests use different forms of energy, such as x-rays (high-energy radiation), ultrasound (high-energy sound waves), radio waves, and radioactive substances. They may be used to help diagnose disease, plan treatment, or find out how well treatment is working. Examples of imaging tests are computed tomography (CT), ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and nuclear medicine tests. Also called imaging procedure.

  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors

    (ih-MYOON CHEK-poynt in-HIH-bih-ters)

    A type of drug that blocks proteins called checkpoints that are made by some types of immune system cells, such as T cells, and some cancer cells. These checkpoints help keep immune responses from being too strong and sometimes can keep T cells from killing cancer cells.

  • Immune reaction

    A reaction of normal tissues to substances recognized as ""foreign"" i.e. Not self.

  • Immune system

    ih-MYOON SIS-tem

    A complex network of cells, tissues, organs, and the substances they make that helps the body fight infections and other diseases. The immune system includes white blood cells and organs and tissues of the lymph system, such as the thymus, spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes, lymph vessels, and bone marrow.

  • Immunity


    In medicine, the immune systems way of protecting the body against an infectious disease.

  • Immunizations


    A technique used to cause an immune response that results in resistance to a specific disease, especially an infectious disease.

  • Immunocompromised


    Having a weakened immune system. Patients who are immunocompromised have a reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases. This may be caused by certain diseases or conditions, such as AIDS, cancer, diabetes, malnutrition, and certain genetic disorders. It may also be caused by certain medicines or treatments, such as anticancer drugs, radiation therapy, and stem cell or organ transplant. Also called immunosuppressed.

  • Immunoglobulin


    A protein that is made by B cells and plasma cells (types of white blood cells) and helps the body fight infection. Some immunoglobulins may be found in higher than normal amounts in patients with certain conditions or certain types of cancer, including multiple myeloma and Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. Measuring the amount of specific immunoglobulins in the blood and urine may help diagnose cancer or find out how well treatment is working or if cancer has come back. Some immunoglobulins may be used as tumor markers. Also called Ig.

  • Immunohistochemistry


    A lab test that uses antibodies to test for certain antigens (markers) in a sample of tissue. The antibodies are usually linked to an enzyme or a fluorescent dye. When the antibodies bind to the antigen in the tissue sample, the enzyme or dye is activated, and the antigen can then be seen under a microscope. Immunohistochemistry is used to help diagnose diseases, such as cancer. It may also be used to help tell the difference between different types of cancer.

  • Immunophenotyping


    A process that uses antibodies to identify cells based on the types of antigens or markers on the surface of the cells. This process is used in basic research and to help diagnose diseases, such as specific types of leukemia and lymphoma. Immunophenotyping may also be used to separate cells into different groups based on the markers they have on the surface.

  • Immunostimulant


    A substance that increases the ability of the immune system to fight infection and disease.

  • Immunosuppression


    Suppression of the body's immune system and its ability to fight infections and other diseases. Immunosuppression may be deliberately induced with drugs, as in preparation for bone marrow or other organ transplantation, to prevent rejection of the donor tissue. It may also result from certain diseases such as AIDS or lymphoma or from anticancer drugs.

  • Immunosuppressive


    Describes the ability to decrease the body's immune system responses.

  • Immunosuppressive agent

    (IH-myoo-noh-suh-PREH-siv AY-jent)

    An agent that decreases the bodys immune responses. It reduces the bodys ability to fight infections and other diseases, such as cancer. Immunosuppressive agents may be used to keep a person from rejecting a bone marrow or organ transplant. They are also used in the treatment of conditions marked by overactive immune responses, such as autoimmune diseases and allergies.

  • Immunosuppressive therapy

    (IH-myoo-noh-suh-PREH-siv THAYR-uh-pee)

    Treatment that lowers the activity of the bodys immune system. This reduces its ability to fight infections and other diseases, such as cancer. Immunosuppressive therapy may be used to keep a person from rejecting a bone marrow or organ transplant. It may also be used to treat conditions in which the immune system is overactive, such as autoimmune diseases and allergies. Some types of immunosuppressive therapy may increase a persons risk of cancer by lowering the bodys ability to kill cancer cells.

  • Immunotherapy


    A type of therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection, and other diseases. Some types of immunotherapy only target certain cells of the immune system. Others affect the immune system in a general way. Types of immunotherapy include cytokines, vaccines, bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), and some monoclonal antibodies.

  • Immunotoxins


    An immune substance, such as a monoclonal antibody, cytokine, or immunoglobulin, chemically linked to a toxic substance. The immune substance binds to specific proteins or receptors found on some cancer cells. This allows the linked toxic substance to enter the cancer cells and kill them without harming nearby healthy cells.

  • Impairment

    A loss of part or all of a physical or mental ability, such as the ability to see, walk, or learn.

  • Implant


    A substance or object that is put in the body as a prosthesis, or for treatment or diagnosis.

  • Implantable port

    A venous access device that implants a system for delivery of fluids, medicines, or blood directly into a vein. The entire device is surgically implanted under the skin and can be used for an extended period of time.

  • In-network provider

    A provider network is a list of the doctors, other health care providers, and hospitals that a plan has contracted with to provide medical care to its members. These providers are called network providers or in-network providers. A provider that hasnt contracted with the plan is called an out-of-network provider.

  • Incision


    A cut made in the body to perform surgery.

  • Incisional biopsy

    in-SIH-zhuh-nul BY-op-see

    A surgical procedure in which a portion of a lump or suspicious area is removed for diagnosis. The tissue is then examined under a microscope to check for signs of disease.

  • Incontinence


    Inability to control the flow of urine from the bladder (urinary incontinence) or the escape of stool from the rectum (fecal incontinence).

  • Increased intracranial pressure

    Increased intracranial pressure is a rise in the pressure inside the skull that can result from or cause brain injury.

  • Incubation period

    The period between exposure to a germ and the first sign of illness (i.e. Chicken pox, from 8 to 21 days).

  • Induction therapy

    (in-DUK-shun THAYR-uh-pee)

    The first treatment given for a disease. It is often part of a standard set of treatments, such as surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation. When used by itself, induction therapy is the one accepted as the best treatment. If it doesnt cure the disease or it causes severe side effects, other treatment may be added or used instead. Also called first-line therapy, primary therapy, and primary treatment.

  • Indwelling catheter

    A central line surgically placed (usually in the chest) and inserted into a large vein in your neck for to administer medications, IV fluids, and blood products. May also be used to draw blood for testing.

  • Infection


    The invasion and growth of germs in the body. The germs may be bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi, or other microorganisms. Infections can begin anywhere in the body and may spread all through it. An infection can cause fever and other health problems, depending on where it occurs in the body. When the bodys immune system is strong, it can often fight the germs and cure an infection. Some cancer treatments can weaken the immune system, which may lead to infection.

  • Infectious disease

    A disease caused by germs; one that can be passed from one to another. Cancer is not an infectious disease.

  • Infertility


    The inability to produce children.

  • Inflammation


    Redness, swelling, pain, and/or a feeling of heat in an area of the body. This is a protective reaction to injury, disease, or irritation of the tissues.

  • Inflammatory


    Having to do with inflammation (redness, swelling, pain, and a feeling of heat that helps protect tissues affected by injury or disease).

  • Informed consent

    (in-FORMD kun-SENT)

    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. Also called consent process.

  • Infusions


    The introduction of a fluid into a vein.

  • Ingestion


    Taking into the body by mouth.

  • Inhalation


    In medicine, refers to the act of taking a substance into the body by breathing.

  • Inherited


    In medicine, describes the passing of genetic information from parent to child through the genes in sperm and egg cells. Also called hereditary.

  • Inherited cancer syndrome

    (in-HAYR-ih-ted KAN-ser SIN-drome)

    A type of inherited disorder in which there is a higher-than-normal risk of certain types of cancer. Inherited cancer syndromes are caused by mutations (changes) in certain genes passed from parents to children. In an inherited cancer syndrome, certain patterns of cancer may be seen within families. These patterns include having several close family members (such as a mother, daughter, and sister) with the same type of cancer, developing cancer at an early age, or having two or more types of cancer develop in the same person. Examples of inherited cancer syndromes are hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, and Lynch syndrome. Also called hereditary cancer syndrome.

  • Injection


    Use of a syringe and needle to push fluids or drugs into the body; often called a ""shot."".

  • Injections

    Injections may be given intramuscularly (into a muscle), intravenously (into a vein), subcutaneously (just under the skin) or intrathecally (into the spinal column space).

  • Inoperable


    Describes a condition that cannot be treated by surgery.

  • Insomnia


    Difficulty in going to sleep or getting enough sleep.

  • Instillation


    In medicine, a method used to put a liquid into the body slowly or drop by drop.

  • Institutional Review Board

    (IN-stih-TOO-shuh-nul reh-VYOO bord)

    A group of scientists, doctors, clergy, and patient advocates that reviews and approves the detailed plan for a clinical trial. Institutional Review Boards are meant to protect the people who take part in a clinical trial. They check to see that the trial is well designed, legal, ethical, does not involve unneeded risks, and includes a safety plan for patients. There is an Institutional Review Board at every health care facility that does clinical research, and every trial is reviewed by an Institutional Review Board before the trial begins. Also called IRB.

  • Integrated medicine

    (IN-teh-gray-tiv MEH-dih-sin)

    A type of medical care that combines conventional (standard) medical treatment with complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies that have been shown to be safe and to work. CAM therapies treat the mind, body, and spirit.

  • Intensification therapy

    (in-TEN-sih-fih-KAY-shun THAYR-uh-pee)

    Treatment that is given after cancer has disappeared following the initial therapy. Intensification 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. Also called consolidation therapy and postremission therapy.

  • Internal Medicine

    (in-TER-nul MEH-dih-sin)

    A branch of medicine that specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating diseases in adults, without using surgery. An internal medicine doctor is often a persons main health care provider and may coordinate treatment given by other specialists.

  • Intervention


    In medicine, a treatment or action taken to prevent or treat disease, or improve health in other ways.

  • Intestine


    The long, tube-shaped organ in the abdomen that completes the process of digestion. The intestine has two parts, the small intestine and the large intestine. Also called bowel.

  • Intrathecal


    Describes the fluid-filled space between the thin layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord. Drugs can be injected into the fluid or a sample of the fluid can be removed for testing.

  • Intrathecal Chemotherapy

    (IN-truh-THEE-kul KEE-moh-THAYR-uh-pee)

    Treatment in which anticancer drugs are injected into the fluid-filled space between the thin layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord.

  • Intravenous


    The administration of a drug or fluid directly into the vein.

  • Intravenous pyelogram

    (IN-truh-VEE-nus PY-eh-loh-GRAM)

    An x-ray image of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder. It is made after a substance that shows up on x-rays is injected into a blood vessel. The substance outlines the kidneys, ureters, and bladder as it flows through the system and collects in the urine. An intravenous pyelogram is usually made to look for a block in the flow of urine.

  • Invasive cancer

    (in-VAY-siv KAN-ser)

    Cancer that has spread beyond the layer of tissue in which it developed and is growing into surrounding, healthy tissues. Also called infiltrating cancer.

  • Investigational drugs

    A substance that has been tested in the laboratory and has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for testing in people. Clinical trials test how well investigational drugs work and whether they are safe to use. An investigational drug may be approved by the FDA for use in one disease or condition but still be considered investigational in other diseases or conditions. Also called experimental drug, IND, investigational agent, and investigational new drug.

  • Ionizing Radiation

    (I-uh-NY-zing RAY-dee-AY-shun)

    A type of high-energy radiation that has enough energy to remove an electron (negative particle) from an atom or molecule, causing it to become ionized. Ionizing radiation can cause chemical changes in cells and damage DNA. This may increase the risk of developing certain health conditions, such as cancer. Ionizing radiation can come from natural sources, such as radon and cosmic rays (rays that enter the earth's atmosphere from outer space). It may also come from medical imaging equipment, such as x-ray, CT scan, or PET scan machines. Nuclear power plant accidents and atomic weapons also release high levels of ionizing radiation. Being exposed to very high doses of ionizing radiation can cause immediate damage to a persons body, including severe skin or tissue damage, acute radiation sickness, and death.

  • Irradiated


    Treated with radiation.

  • Irradiation


    The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons, and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy). Systemic irradiation uses a radioactive substance, such as a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody, that travels in the blood to tissues throughout the body. Also called radiation therapy and radiotherapy.

  • Irreversible toxicity

    (eer-ree-VER-sih-bul tok-SIH-sih-tee)

    Side effects that are caused by toxic substances or something harmful to the body and do not go away.

  • Irritable bowel syndrome

    (EER-ih-tuh-bul BOW-ul SIN-drome)

    A disorder of the intestines commonly marked by abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in a persons bowel habits. This may include diarrhea or constipation, or both, with one occurring after the other. Also called IBS, irritable colon, mucus colitis, and spastic colon.

  • Ischemia


    Lack of blood supply to a part of the body. Ischemia may cause tissue damage due to the lack of oxygen and nutrients.

  • Isolated infusion

    (I-soh-LAY-ted LIM per-FYOO-zhun)

    A procedure that may be used to deliver anticancer drugs directly to an arm or leg. The flow of blood to and from the limb is temporarily stopped with a tourniquet (a tight band around the limb), and anticancer drugs are put directly into the blood of the limb. This allows the person to receive a high dose of drugs in the area where the cancer occurred. Also called limb perfusion.

  • Isolation


    State of being separated from others. Isolation is sometimes used to prevent disease from spreading.

  • IV

    A device that is used to allow a fluid such as blood or a liquid medication to flow directly into a patient's veins.

  • IVIG

    Intravenous immunoglobulin. A substance made from antibodies that have been taken from the blood of many healthy donors. It is given to a patient through a needle or tube inserted into a vein. Intravenous immunoglobulins are used to treat certain types of immune disorders in which there are low amounts of antibodies in the blood. They are also used to treat many different autoimmune disorders, infections, or other conditions. They may also be used to help prevent infections in patients who have had a stem cell or organ transplant. Intravenous immunoglobulins are a type of immunotherapy.