Words to Know

cachexia

Loss of body weight and muscle mass, and weakness, which may occur in individuals with cancer or other chronic diseases.

CAF regimen

An abbreviation for a chemotherapy combination used alone or together with other therapies to treat breast cancer. It includes the chemotherapy medicines cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin hydrochloride (Adriamycin), and fluorouracil. Also called CAF.

calcification

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.

cancer vaccine

A type of vaccine that is usually made from an individual's own tumor cells or from substances taken from tumor cells. A cancer vaccine may help the immune system kill cancer cells.

candidiasis

Also called candidosis and thrush. A condition in which Candida albicans, a type of yeast, grows out of control in moist skin. 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). Rarely, it spreads throughout the entire body.

capecitabine

Also called Xeloda. A medicine used to treat metastatic breast cancer that has not improved after treatment with certain other anticancer medicines. It is taken up by cancer cells and breaks down into 5-fluorouracil, a substance that kills tumor cells. Capecitabine is a type of antimetabolite.

carboplatin

Also called Paraplatin. A medicine used to treat advanced ovarian cancer that has never been treated, or ovarian cancer that has come back after treatment with other anticancer agents. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer, including breast cancer. Carboplatin is a form of the anticancer agent cisplatin and causes fewer side effects in individuals. It attaches to DNA in cells and may kill cancer cells.

carcinogen

Any substance that causes cancer.

carcinoma

Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs.

carcinoma in situ

Also called stage 0 disease. A group of abnormal cells that remain in the place where they first formed and have not spread. These abnormal cells may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue.

carcinomatous meningitis

A serious problem in which cancer cells spread from the original (primary) tumor to the meninges (thin layers of tissue that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord). It can happen in many types of cancer, but is the most common in melanoma, breast, lung and gastrointestinal cancer. The cancer may cause the meninges to be inflamed. Also called leptomeningeal carcinoma, leptomeningeal metastasis, meningeal carcinomatosis, meningeal metastasis, and neoplastic meningitis.

carcinosis

Also called carcinomatosis. A condition in which cancer is spread widely throughout the body, or, in some cases, to a relatively large region of the body.

carcinostatic

Pertaining to slowing or stopping the growth of cancer.

cardiotoxicity

Toxicity that affects the heart.

caregiver

A person who cares for people who need assistance with their day-to-day activities. Caregivers may be health professionals, family members, friends, social workers, or members of the clergy. They may give care at home, in a hospital, or in some other healthcare setting.

carmustine

An anticancer medicine that belongs to the family of medicines called alkylating agents.

case report

A detailed report of the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of an individual affected by breast cancer. Case reports also contain some demographic information about the individual receiving health care treatment (for example, age, gender and ethnic origin).

case series

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

case-control study

Also called retrospective study. 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.

CAT scan

A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body taken from different angles. The pictures are created by a computer linked to an X-ray machine. Also called computed tomography scan, computerized axial tomography scan, computerized tomography, and CT scan.