Words to Know
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Any process that controls the series of events by which a cell goes through the cell cycle. During the cell cycle, a cell makes a copy of its DNA and other contents, and divides in two. When cell cycle regulation doesn't happen correctly, cells may divide in an uncontrolled way, and diseases such as cancer can occur.
central nervous system prophylaxis
Chemotherapy or radiation therapy given to the central nervous system (CNS) as a preventive treatment. It kills cancer cells that may be in the brain and spinal cord, even though no cancer has been detected there. Also called central nervous system sanctuary therapy, CNS prophylaxis, and CNS sanctuary therapy.
Brand name, Erbitux. A monoclonal antibody being studied in the treatment of cancer, including triple negative breast cancer. Monoclonal antibodies are made in the lab and can locate and bind to cancer cells. Cetuximab binds to the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which is found on the surface of some types of cancer cells.
charged-particle radiation therapy
A type of external radiation therapy that uses a special machine to make invisible, high-energy particles (protons or helium ions) that kill cancer cells. This type of radiation may cause less damage to nearby healthy tissue than radiation therapy with high-energy X-rays.
Chinese meridian theory
In traditional Chinese medicine, meridians are channels that form a network in the body, through which qi (vital energy) flows. According to this theory, blocked qi causes pain or illness: The flow of qi is reportedly restored by using pressure, needles, suction or heat at hundreds of specific points along the meridians.
Also called palliative care, supportive care and symptom management. Care given to improve the quality of life of individuals who have a serious or life-threatening disease. The goal of comfort care is to prevent or treat as early as possible the symptoms of a disease, side effects caused by treatment of a disease, and psychological, social and spiritual problems related to a disease or its treatment.
compassionate use trial
A way to provide an investigational therapy to an individual who is not eligible to receive that therapy in a clinical trial, but who has a serious or life-threatening illness for which other treatments are not available. Compassionate use trials allow individuals to receive promising but not yet fully studied or approved cancer therapies, when no other treatment option exists. Also called expanded access trial.
complementary and alternative medicine
Forms of treatment that are used in addition to (complementary), or instead of (alternative), standard treatments. These practices generally are not considered standard medical approaches. Standard treatments go through a long and careful research process to prove they are safe and effective, but less is known about most types of CAM. CAM may include dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, acupuncture, massage therapy, magnet therapy, spiritual healing, and meditation. Also called CAM.
Practices often used to enhance or complement standard treatments. They generally are not recognized by the medical community as standard or conventional medical approaches. Complementary medicine may include dietary supplements, acupuncture, massage therapy, spiritual healing, and meditation.
complex decongestive therapy
Treatment to reduce lymphedema (swelling caused by a buildup of lymph fluid in tissue). This therapy uses massage to move the fluid away from areas where lymph vessels are blocked, damaged, or removed by surgery. This helps remove extra fluid. The affected area is then wrapped in a special bandage. Later, a compression garment (tight-fitting, elastic piece of clothing) is worn to keep fluid from building up again.
Treatment that is given after cancer has disappeared following the initial therapy. Consolidation therapy is used to kill any cancer cells that may be left in the body. It may include radiation therapy or treatment with medicines that kill cancer cells. Also called intensification therapy and postremission therapy.
A type of acupuncture based on a form of Eastern medicine in which treatment is based on a person's constitution. According to this type of medicine, the constitution is the specific way a person's organs affect health and how he or she looks, thinks, behaves and responds to treatment.
A system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using medicines, radiation, or surgery. Also called allopathic medicine, biomedicine, mainstream medicine, orthodox medicine and Western medicine.
Any steroid hormone made in the adrenal cortex (the outer part of the adrenal gland). They are also made in the lab. Corticosteroids have many different effects in the body and are used to treat many different conditions. They may be used as hormone replacement, to suppress the immune system and to treat some side effects of cancer and its treatment.
CYP2D6 is an enzyme that plays a role in the way the body absorbs some medicines. CYP2D6 inhibitors are medicines that prevent the body from metabolizing these medicines as it should. Examples of CYP2D6 inhibitors are fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine (Paxil). The CYP2D6 enzyme is vital in the absorption of tamoxifen, a hormonal therapy for breast cancer.