Glossary of Terms for Orthopedic Oncology


Adenopathy: Large or swollen lymph glands.
Advance directive: A legal document that states the treatment or care a person wishes to receive or not receive if he or she becomes unable to make medical decisions (for example, due to being unconscious or in a coma).
Analgesic: A drug that reduces pain, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen
Anaplastic: A term used to describe cancer cells that divide rapidly and have little or no resemblance to normal cells
Anemia: A condition in which the number of red blood cells is below normal
Angiosarcoma: A type of cancer that begins in the cells that line blood vessels of lymph vessels
Antiemetic: A drug that prevents or reduces nausea and vomiting
Aspiration: Removal of fluid or tissue through a needle. Also, the accidental breathing in of food or fluid into the lungs
Asymphomatic: Having no signs or symptoms of disease



Benign tumor: A noncancerous growth that does not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body
Bile: A fluid made by the liver and stored in the gallbladder
Bile duct: A tube through which bile passes in and out of the liver
Biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues for examination by a pathologist
Blood cell count: A test to check the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in a sample of blood. Also called complete blood count (CBC).
Bone marrow transplantation: A procedure to replace bone marrow that has been destroyed by treatment with high doses of anticancer drugs or radiation
Bowel function: The way the intestines work in terms of how often there are bowel movements, the ability to control when to have a bowel movement, and whether the stools are hard and dry as in constipation or watery as in diarrhea.
Brachytherapy: A procedure in which radioactive material sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters is placed directly into or near a tumor



Carcinoma: Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs
Cartilage: A tough, flexible tissue that lines joints and gives structure to the nose, ears, larynx, and other parts of the body.
CAT scan: Computerized axial tomography scan. A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles; the pictures are created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. Also called computed tomography (CT scan) or computerized tomography
Chemotherapy: Drugs used to treat cancer
Chondrosarcoma: A type of cancer that forms in cartilage
Clinical Trial: A type of study that shows how well a new medical approach works, which may include screening, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of a disease
Colonoscopy: Examination of the inside of the colon using a colonoscope, inserted into the rectum
Cyst: A sac or capsule in the body. It may be filled with fluid or other material



Debulking: Removing as much of a tumor as possible
Diuretic: A drug that increases the production of urine
Dosimetry: The measurement of radiation exposure from X-rays, gamma rays or other types of radiation used in the treatment or detection of diseases, including cancer
DRE (Digital rectal exam): A procedure in which the doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum and feels the prostate through the rectal wall to check for hard or lumpy areas
Drug resistance: Failure of cancer cells, viruses, or bacteria to respond to a drug used to kill or weaken them. The cells, viruses, or bacteria may be resistant to the drug at the beginning of treatment, or may become resistant after being exposed to the drug



Endoscopy: A procedure that uses an endoscope to examine the inside of the body. An endoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease
Esophagoscopy: Examination of the esophagus using an esophagoscope. An esophagoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease
Estrogen: A type of hormone that helps develop and maintain female sex characteristics.
Estrogen receptor+ or -: Cancer cells that are ER+ need estrogen to grow, and may stop growing when treated with hormones that block estrogen from binding. Cancer cells that are ER- do not need estrogen to grow, and usually do not stop growing when treated with hormones that block estrogen from binding



Fecal occult blood test (FOBT): A test to check for blood in the stool. Small samples of stool are placed on special cards and sent to a doctor or laboratory for testing.
Fibroid: A benign smooth-muscle tumor, usually in the uterus or gastrointestinal tract. Also called leiomyoma
Fluoroscopy: An X-ray procedure that makes it possible to see internal organs in motion



Gastric: Having to do with the stomach.
Genetic testing: Analyzing DNA to look for a genetic alteration that may indicate an increased risk for developing a specific disease or disorder
Gland: An organ that makes one or more substances, such as hormones, digestive juices, sweat, tears, saliva, or milk.
Glioma:  A cancer of the brain that begins in the glial cells (cells that surround and support nerve cells
Glioblastoma: A general term that refers to malignant astrocytoma, a type of brain tumor
Glioblastomas multiforme (GBM): Type of brain tumor that forms from glial (supportive) tissue of the brain. It grows very quickly and has cells that look very different from normal cells. Also called grade IV astrocytoma
Gynecologic oncologist: A doctor who specializes in treating cancer of the female reproductive organs



Hematologist: A doctor who specializes in treating blood disorders
Hodkin’s lymphoma: A cancer of the immune system that is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed Sternberg cell. Symptoms include the painless enlarged lymph nodes, spleen, or other immune tissue. Other symptoms include fever, weight loss, fatigue, or night sweats. Also called Hodgkin's disease
Hospice: A program that provides special care for people who are near the end of life and for their families, either at home, in freestanding facilities, or within hospitals
Hydronephrosis: Abnormal enlargement of a kidney, which may be caused by blockage of the ureter (such as by a kidney stone) or chronic kidney disease that prevents urine from draining into the bladder



Immunosuppression: The suppression of the body's immune system and its ability to fight infections or disease
Inflammatory breast cancer: A type of breast cancer in which the breast looks red and swollen and feels warm
Infusion: A method of putting fluids, including drugs, into the bloodstream
In situ cancer: Early cancer that has not spread to neighboring tissue



Jaundice: A condition in which the skin and the whites of the eyes become yellow, urine darkens, and the color of stool becomes lighter than normal



Keloid: A thick, irregular scar caused by excessive tissue growth at the site of an incision or wound



Laparoscope: A thin, tube-like instrument used to look at tissues and organs inside the abdomen. A laparoscope has a light and a lens for viewing and may have a tool to remove tissue
Lesion: An area of abnormal tissue
Leukemia: Cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow, and causes large numbers of blood cells to be produced and enter the bloodstream
Liposarcoma: Rare cancer of the fat cells
Lumpectomy: Surgery to remove the tumor and a small amount of normal tissue around it.
Lymphedema: A condition in which excess fluid collects in tissue and causes swelling. It may occur in the arm or leg after lymph vessels or lymph nodes in the underarm or groin are removed or treated with radiation
Lymphacyte: A type of white blood cell.



Malignancy: Cancerous tumor that can invade and destroy nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body
Malignant fibrous histiocytoma: Soft tissue sarcoma that usually occurs in the limbs, most commonly the legs, and may also occur in the abdomen
Mammopad: FDA-cleared foam cushion,that eases the discomfort many women feel when they get a mammogram
Mastectomy: Surgery to remove the breast (or as much of the breast tissue as possible)
Mediastinum: The area between the lungs. The organs in this area include the heart and its large blood vessels, the trachea, the esophagus, the bronchi, and lymph nodes
Melanoma: A form of skin cancer that begins in melanocytes (the cells that make the pigment melanin). Melanoma usually begins in a mole
Meningioma: Type of tumor that occurs in the meninges, the membranes that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord.
Metastases: The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another. A tumor formed by cells that have spread is called a “metastatic tumor” or a “metastasis.”
MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging, a procedure in which radio waves and a powerful magnet linked to a computer are used to create detailed pictures of areas inside the body
Myeloma: Cancer that arises in plasma cells, a type of white blood cell
Myelodysplasia:  Abnormal bone marrow cells that may lead to myelogenous leukemia



Needle biopsy: The removal of tissue or fluid with a needle for examination under a microscope. Also called fine-needle aspiration
Neoplasm: An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Also called a tumor.
Neurofibroma: A benign tumor that develops from the cells and tissues that cover nerves.
Neuro-oncologist: A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating brain tumors and other tumors of the nervous system
Neurosurgeon: A doctor who specializes in surgery on the brain, spine, and other parts of the nervous system.
non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: Any of a large group of cancers of the immune system. NHLs can occur at any age, and are often marked by enlarged lymph nodes, fever, and weight loss. There are many different types of NHL, and they can be divided into aggressive (fast-growing) and indolent (slow-growing) types, and are classified as either B-cell or T-cell NH
Non-small cell lung cancer: A group of lung cancers that includes squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.



Oncologist: a doctor who specializes in treating cancer
Oopherectomy: Surgery to remove one or both ovaries
Opportunistic infection: An infection caused by an organism that does not normally cause disease. Opportunistic infections occur in people with weakened immune systems
Osteosarcoma: cancer of the bone that usually affects the large bones of the arm or leg. It occurs most commonly in young people and affects more males than females
OTC (Over the Counter): A medicine that can be bought without a prescription
Ovarian suppression/ovarian ablation: Surgery, radiation therapy, or a drug treatment to stop the functioning of the ovaries



Palliative therapy: treatment given to relieve the symptoms and reduce the suffering caused by cancer or other life-threatening illnesses
Pap smear: A procedure in which cells are scraped from the cervix for examination under a microscope. It is used to detect cancer and changes that may lead to cancer. A Pap smear can also show noncancerous conditions, such as infection or inflammation
Patient navigation specialist: a trained health care worker who provides support and guidance throughout the cancer care continuum, including helping people “navigate" through the maze of doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals, outpatient centers, insurance and payment systems and patient-support organizations.
Pneumonectomy: An operation to remove an entire lung
PET scan: Positron emission tomography scan. A procedure in which a small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein, and a scanner is used to make detailed, computerized pictures of areas inside the body where the glucose is used
Phlebotomy: The puncture of a vein with a needle for the purpose of drawing blood
Physiatrist: A physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation
Pituitary gland: The main endocrine gland
Placebo: An inactive substance or treatment that looks the same as, and is given the same way as, an active drug or treatment being tested
Pleura: A thin layer of tissue covering the lungs and lining the interior wall of the chest cavity. It protects and cushions the lungs
Pleural effusion: An abnormal collection of fluid between the thin layers of tissue (pleura) lining the lung and the wall of the chest cavity
Polyp: A growth that protrudes from a mucous membrane.
Postoperative: after surgery
Primary tumor: The original tumor
Prostatectomy: An operation to remove part or all of the prostate
PSA (prostate-specific antigen): substance produced by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, or infection or inflammation of the prostate



Quality of life:  The overall enjoyment of life. Many clinical trials assess the effects of cancer and its treatment on the quality of life. These studies measure aspects of an individual’s sense of well-being and ability to carry out various activities.



Radiation: Energy released in the form of particles or electromagnetic waves. Common sources of radiation include radon gas, cosmic rays from outer space, and medical x-rays
Radiation oncologist: A doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA): The use of electrodes to heat and destroy abnormal tissue
RBC (Red Blood Cell): A cell that carries oxygen to all parts of the body.
Regression: A decrease in the size of a tumor or in the extent of cancer in the body
Relapse: The return of signs and symptoms of cancer after a period of improvement
Remission: A decrease in or disappearance of signs and symptoms of cancer. In partial remission, some, but not all, signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared.
Resection: A procedure that uses surgery to remove tissue or part or all of an organ
Rhabdomyosarcoma: A malignant tumor of muscle tissue



Sarcoma: A cancer of the bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective or supportive tissue
Sentinel lymph node biopsy: The removal and examination of the sentinel node(s), also called the first lymph node(s), to which cancer cells are likely to spread from a primary tumor. To identify the sentinel lymph node(s), the surgeon injects a radioactive substance, blue dye, or both near the tumor. The surgeon then uses a scanner to find the sentinel lymph node(s) containing the radioactive substance or looks for the lymph node(s) stained with dye. The surgeon then removes the sentinel node(s) to check for the presence of cancer cells.
Sigmoidoscopy: an exam of the rectum and lower (sigmoid) colon with a lighted tube called a sigmoidoscope.
Sputum: Mucus and other matter brought up from the lungs by coughing
Squamous cell carcinoma:  Cancer that begins in squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells that look like fish scales. Squamous cells are found in the tissue that forms the surface of the skin, the lining of the hollow organs of the body, and the passages of the respiratory and digestive tracts
stereotactic radiosurgery: A radiation therapy procedure that uses special equipment to position the patient and precisely deliver a large radiation dose to a tumor and not to normal tissue.
Systemic therapy: Treatment using substances that travel through the bloodstream, reaching and affecting cells all over the body



Tracheostomy:  Surgery to create an opening (stoma) into the windpipe
Thoracic: having to do with the chest
Thoracoscopy:  Examination of the inside of the chest, using a thoracoscope Thoracoscope: A thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing.
Thyroid: A gland located beneath the voice box (larynx) that produces thyroid hormone. The thyroid helps regulate growth and metabolism.
Trigeminal nerve:  The main sensory nerve of the head and face, and the motor nerve of the muscles used in chewing.
Tumor marker: A substance sometimes found in the blood, other body fluids, or tissues.



Ultrasound: A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes



Watchful waiting: Closely monitoring a patient's condition but withholding treatment until symptoms appear or change
WBC (White Blood Cell): Refers to a blood cell that does not contain hemoglobin. White blood cells include lymphocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, macrophages, and mast cells


Definitions courtesy of the National Cancer Institute and LifeBridge Health