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Understanding new words and meanings.

When diagnosed or living with the effects of cancer and its treatment, the amount of information we have to take in can sometimes be overwhelming. Particularly when we have to understand new words and what they mean.

Our Jargon Buster will help clear up some of these meanings for you.

  • Anaesthetic

    Anaesthesia means “a loss of sensation.” An anaesthetic is a substance used to induce anaesthesia. A local anaesthetic numbs a small area of the body and you remain awake. A general anaesthetic sends you to sleep so that you are unaware of the procedure and pain free.

  • Benign

    Benign means not cancerous. They do not invade into nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body. They can be serious if they grow and put pressure on vital structures such as nerves and blood vessels.

  • Biopsy

    A biopsy is a small sample of tissue or cells taken from the body. These may be taken as a needle biopsy or as a swab.

  • Brachytherapy

    Brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy) is a type of radiation therapy used to treat cancer. A source of radiation is placed inside the patient to kill cancer cells and shrinks tumours. It uses a higher dose of radiation to treat a smaller area than external therapy.

  • Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy uses systemic anti-cancer therapy (cytotoxic drugs) to destroy cancer cells. It can be given alone or with other treatments. The treatment of disease by the use of chemical substances, especially the treatment of cancer by cytotoxic and other drugs.

  • Consent

    When someone consents to treatment, it means they give permission for something, eg. Surgery, chemotherapy. Benefits and risks of treatment will be discussed at this stage.

  • Diagnosis

    A diagnosis is a description of the illness a person has. The identification of the nature of an illness or other problem by examination of the symptoms.

  • Fertility

    The ability to have children.

    The ability to conceive children.

  • Full Blood Count

    A blood count is a blood test which measures the levels of the different types of blood cells in the blood. The three main types of blood cell are:

    • red blood cells, which carry oxygen
    • platelets, which help the blood to clot
    • white blood cells, which fight and prevent infection.
  • Immunotherapy

    Immunotherapy is an anti cancer treatment based on harnessing our own immune system to fight cancer. It works by helping the immune system recognise and attack cancer cells.

  • Intravenous (IV)

    This means being given into a vein. A person may have fluids or drugs given into a vein via a cannula. Existing or taking place within, or administered into, a vein or veins.

  • Lymphatic system

    The lymphatic system helps to protect us from infection and disease. It is made up of fine tubes called lymphatic vessels that connect to groups of lymph nodes throughout the body. The network of vessels through which lymph drains from the tissues into the blood.

  • Lymphoedema

    Lymphoedema is the swelling of the soft tissue caused by a build up of lymph fluid. Different types of surgery that remove sections of the lymphatic system and some treatments can be a cause.

  • Malignant

    Malignant means cancerous. Malignant tumours may spread to different parts of the body.  Tending to invade normal tissue or to recur after removal; cancerous. Contrasted with benign.

  • Oncologist

    A medical practitioner qualified to diagnose and treat cancerous tumours.

  • Oncology

    Oncology is the medical specialty that deals with cancer. The study and treatment of tumours.

  • Palliative Care

    Palliative care is the active holistic care and support of those with advanced progressive diseases, that are incurable, such as cancer. Palliative care is given to improve the quality of life, it’s an approach that addresses the person as a whole, not just the disease. It aims to improve quality of life for both patients and their families.

  • Prognosis

    A prognosis is what is likely to happen with someone’s disease in the future. The likely course of a medical condition. An opinion, based on medical experience, of the likely course of a medical condition.

  • Radiotherapy

    Radiotherapy uses high-energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells. Radiotherapy can be used to reduce the chance of the cancer coming back, cure cancer or to relieve symptoms and reduce tumour size.

  • Surgery

    Surgery can be defined as an operation, often to remove something (such as cancer) from the body. It is also the treatment of injuries or disorders of the body by incision or manipulation, especially with instruments.

  • Syringe Driver

    A small, portable pump that can be used to give a constant rate of medicines over a period of time. The medication is put into a syringe and put in the syringe drive that is connected to thin tube into the body. The tube is inserted using a thin needle which is secured with an adhesive dressing.

  • Tumour

    A tumour is a growth or lump. It may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).

    A swelling of a part of the body, generally without inflammation, caused by an abnormal growth of tissue, whether benign or malignant.

  • Wide Local Excision

    A wide local excision involves surgical removal of a tumours and some normal tissue surrounding it, known as “clear margins.”

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