A glossary of terms relating to childhood cancer

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Cancer Australia has published a glossary of terms relating to children’s cancer.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can also mean being exposed to a huge range of new words, terms and phrases. It can help you when dealing with medial professionals to be on top of what all these terms mean.

The government website Cancer Australia has created a list of over 1,000 terms listed in alphabetical order. They received this information from Cancer Help UK – the patient information website of Cancer Research UK. We’ve included some of the more common ones below, but it’s worthwhile clicking through to read the rest when you can.

Examples of glossary terms include:

Abdominal radiotherapy: Radiotherapy given to any part of the abdomen. The abdomen is the area below the ribs and above the hip bones.

Active drug: A term used in drug trials to distinguish between the drug and placebo. The active drug contains actual medicine.

Advanced cancer: Advanced cancer usually means a cancer that has spread from where it started to another part of the body. ‘Locally advanced’ cancer usually means the cancer has grown outside the organ that it started in and into surrounding body tissues.

B symptoms: A group of symptoms which doctors use to determine the stage of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The stage B symptoms are unexplained high temperatures, heavy sweating at night and weight loss (losing at least 10% of total body weight).

Basal cell: Cells in the deepest layer of the skin (epidermis). All new skin cells develop from these cells.

Basement membrane: The layer of tissue that cells ‘sit’ on. If cancer cells from a tumour have broken through the basement membrane, then the cancer can spread and is called ‘invasive’.

CA19-9: A chemical marker produced by some types of cancer, which can be found in the blood. It is sometimes found in people who have suspected pancreatic cancer, but is not specific enough to use as a screening test.

Carcinoma: A cancer of the epithelial tissue that covers all the body organs and lines all the body cavities (for example, skin). Most cancers are carcinomas.

Find more terms on the Cancer Australia website.

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