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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 reaction

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

  • Immune system

    ih-MYOON SIS-tem

    The complex system by which your body resists infection by microbes such as bacteria or viruses and rejects transplanted tissues or organs. The immune system may also help the body fight some cancers.

  • Immunity


    The state of your body's defenses against a particular infection or possibly against a certain cancer.

  • Immunizations


    Vaccines given to help your body resist 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.

  • 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.

  • Immunostimulant


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

  • Immunosuppression


    A state in which your immune system does not respond adequately. This condition may be present at birth, or it may be caused by certain infections (such as human immunodeficiency virus or HIV), or by certain cancer therapies, such as cancer-cell killing (cytotoxic) drugs, radiation, and bone marrow transplantation.

  • 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 body’s immune responses. It reduces the body’s 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 body’s 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 person’s risk of cancer by lowering the body’s ability to kill cancer cells.

  • Immunotherapy


    Treatments that promote or support your immune system's response to a disease such as cancer.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 doesn’t 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 body’s 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


    The triggering of local body defenses resulting in the outpouring of defensive cells (""polys"") from the circulation system into the tissues. Frequently associated with pain swelling.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Intravenous


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

  • Intravenous pyelogram

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

    A special kind of x-ray procedure where a dye is injected into the bloodstream. The dye travels to the kidneys, ureters and bladder and helps to clearly outline these organs on the x-rays. Referred to as IVP.

  • 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

    Drugs being studied by clinical investigation to ascertain the value of these drugs as treatment for special types of cancer.

  • 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.

  • 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.