Common Terms

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Common Terms

Many different cancer related terms will be used by doctors and nurses throughout your treatment.

While some may be familiar, knowing the precise meaning can give you, your family and loved ones, a better understanding of your diagnosis.

Acute
Refers to symptoms that start and worsen quickly but do not last over a long period of time.

Benign
Refers to a tumour that is not cancer. The tumour does not usually invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body.

Bone marrow
The soft, spongy tissue found in the centre of large bones where blood cells are formed.

Carcinoma Cancer
Cancer that starts in skin or tissues that line the inside or cover the outside of internal organs.

Cells
The basic units that make up the human body.

Chemotherapy
Drugs that kill cancer cells.

Chronic
Refers to a disease or condition that persists, often slowly, over a long period of time.

Invasive
Cancer that has spread outside the layer of tissue in which it started and has the potential to grow into other parts of the body.

Leukaemia
A cancer of the blood. Leukaemia begins when normal white blood cells change and grow uncontrollably.

Localised cancer
Cancer that is confined to the area where it started and has not spread to other parts of the body.

Lymph nodes
Tiny, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection. Part of the lymphatic system.

Lymphatic system
A network of small vessels, ducts, and organs that carry fluid to and from the bloodstream and body tissues. Through the lymphatic system, cancer can spread to other parts of the body.

Lymphoma
A cancer of the lymphatic system. Lymphoma begins when cells in the lymph system change and grow uncontrollably. Sometimes a tumour is formed.

Malignant
Refers to a tumour that is cancerous. It may invade nearby healthy tissue or spread to other parts of the body.

Mass
A lump in the body, can be cancer or benign.

Metastasis
The spread of cancer from the place where the cancer began to another part of the body. Cancer cells can break away from the primary tumour and travel through the blood or the lymphatic system to the lymph nodes, brain, lungs, bones, liver, or other organs.

Primary cancer
Describes the original cancer.

Prognosis
Chance of recovery; a prediction of the outcome of a disease.

Sarcoma
A cancer that develops in the tissues that support and connect the body, such as fat and muscle.

Secondary cancer
Describes either a new primary cancer (a different type of cancer) that develops after treatment from the first type of cancer, or cancer that has spread to other parts of the body from the place where it started.

Stage
A way of describing cancer, such as where it is located, whether or where it has spread, and whether it is affecting the functions of other organs in the body.

Tumour
A mass formed when normal cells begin to change and grow uncontrollably. A tumour can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous, meaning it can spread to other parts of the body). Also called a nodule or mass.

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