Glossary

benign – a tumour that is not malignant, not cancerous, and won’t spread to another part of your body.

bone scan – a picture of the bones that can show cancers, other abnormalities, and infection. When a mildly radioactive substance is injected, cancerous areas in the bone pick up more of the substance than normal bone.

chemotherapy – the use of special (cytotoxic) drugs to treat cancer by killing cancer cells or slowing their growth.

lymph or lymphatic – the lymphatic system is part of the immune system, which protects the body against ‘invaders’, like bacteria and parasites. The lymphatic system is a network of small lymph nodes connected by very thin lymph vessels, which branch into every part of the body. Lymph fluid flows through this system and carries cells that help to fight disease and infection.

lymph glands or nodes – small kidney bean shaped sacs scattered along the lymphatic system. The lymph nodes filter the lymph fluid to remove bacteria and other harmful agents, such as cancer cells. There are lymph nodes in your abdomen, neck, armpit, and groin.

malignant – a tumour that is cancerous and likely to spread if it is not treated.

metastasis (plural = metastases) – another cancer that has grown in a different part of the body because of the spread of cancer cells from the original site. For example, someone with breast cancer may have metastases in their bones – also called secondary cancer.

palliative – controlling the symptoms of a disease rather than curing it.

positron emission tomography (PET) scan – a technique that is used to build up clear and very detailed pictures of the body. The person is injected with a glucose solution containing a very small amount of radioactive material. The scanner can ‘see’ the radioactive substance. Damaged or cancerous cells show up as areas where the glucose is being taken up.

primary – a malignant tumour starts in one site of the body where it is known as the primary tumour.

radiation treatment – the use of radiation, usually X-rays, to kill cancer cells or injure them so they cannot grow and multiply. Radiation treatment can also harm normal cells, but they are usually able to repair themselves.

recurrence – when a disease comes back again after what seemed to be a cure.

secondary – the same as metastasis.

tumour – a swelling or lump. Tumours can be benign (not cancerous), or malignant (cancerous).

ultrasound – sound waves of a very high frequency used to examine structures within the body.

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