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Words to Know

Part of Chemotherapy and You: Support for People With Cancer

June 29, 2007

Acupuncture (AK-yoo-PUNK-cher): The technique of inserting thin needles through the skin at specific points on the body to control nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms.

Adjuvant (AD-joo-vant) chemotherapy: Chemotherapy used to kill cancer cells after surgery or radiation therapy.

Alopecia (al-oh-PEE-shuh): The lack or loss of hair from areas of the body where hair is usually found. Alopecia can be a side effect of chemotherapy.

Anemia (a-NEE-mee-a): A problem in which the number of red blood cells is below normal.

Antiemetic (AN-tee-eh-MEH-tik): A drug that prevents or controls nausea and vomiting. Also called antinausea.

Antinausea: A drug that prevents or controls nausea and vomiting. Also called antiemetic.

Biological therapy (by-oh-LAH-jih-kul THAYR-uh-pee): Treatment to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight cancer, infections, and other diseases. Also used to lessen certain side effects that may be caused by some cancer treatments.

Blood cell count: The number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in a sample of blood. This is also called a complete blood count (CBC).

Bone marrow: The soft, sponge-like tissue in the center of most bones. It produces white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.

Cancer clinical trials: Type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a disease. Also called a clinical study or research study.

Catheter (KATH-i-ter): A flexible tube through which fluids enter or leave the body.

Chemotherapy (kee-moh-THAYR-uh-pee): Treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells.

Constipation: When bowel movements become less frequent, and stools are hard, dry, and difficult to pass.

Diarrhea: Frequent bowel movements that may be soft, loose, or watery.

Dry heaves: When your body tries to vomit even though your stomach is empty.

Fatigue: A problem of extreme tiredness and inability to function due lack of energy.

Healthy cells: Noncancerous cells that function the way they should.

Hormone: A chemical made by glands in the body. Hormones circulate in the bloodstream and control the actions of certain cells or organs.

Impotence: Not being able to get or keep an erection.

Incontinence: Not able to control the flow of urine from the bladder.

Infertility: For women, it means that you may not be able to get pregnant. For men, it means that you may not be able to get a woman pregnant.

Injection: Using a syringe and needle to push fluids or drugs into the body; often called a "shot."

Intra-arterial (IN-truh-ar-TEER-ee-ul): Within an artery. Also called IA.

Intraperitoneal (IN-truh-PAYR-ih-toh-NEE-ul): Within the peritoneal cavity. Also called IP.

Intravenous (in-tra-VEE-nus): Within a blood vessel. Also called IV.

Long-term side effects: Problems from chemotherapy that do not go away.

Metastatic (MET-uh-STAT-ik): The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another.

Nausea: When you have an upset stomach or queasy feeling and feel like you are going to throw up.

Neo-adjuvant (NEE-o-AD-joo-vant) chemotherapy: When chemotherapy is used to shrink a tumor before surgery or radiation therapy.

Neutropenia: An abnormal decrease in the number of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell.

Neutrophil (NOO-tro-fil): A type of white blood cell.

Outpatient: A patient who visits a health care facility for diagnosis or treatment without spending the night.

Palliative (PAL-ee-yuh-tiv) care: Care given to improve the quality of life of patients with serious or life-threatening diseases.

Peritoneal (PAYR-ih-toh-NEE-ul) cavity: The space within the abdomen that contains the intestines, stomach, liver, ovaries, and other organs.

Platelet (PLATE-let): A type of blood cell that helps prevent bleeding by causing blood clots to form.

Port: An implanted device through which blood may be drawn and drugs may be given without repeated needle sticks.

Pump: A device that is used to deliver a precise amount of a drug at a specific rate.

Radiation therapy: The use of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

Recurrent: Cancer that returns after not being detected for a period of time.

Red blood cells: Cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Also called RBC.

Side effect: A problem that occurs when treatment affects healthy tissues or organs.

Standard treatment: Treatment that experts agree is appropriate, accepted, and widely used.

Thrombocytopenia (THROM-boh-sy-toh-PEE-nee-uh): A decrease in the number of platelets in the blood that may result in easy bruising and excessive bleeding from wounds or bleeding in mucous membranes and other tissues.

Vomiting: When you throw up.

White blood cells: Cells that help the body fight infection and other diseases. Also called WBC.

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This article was provided by U.S. National Institutes of Health. It is a part of the publication Chemotherapy and You: Support for People With Cancer. Visit NIH's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.