Adjuvant therapy:

Chemotherapy drugs (including hormones) given after surgery or radiation or both to help prevent the cancer from coming back.


Hair loss, usually temporary. Results from the use of chemotherapy drugs.


Having too few red blood cells. Symptoms of anemia include feeling tired, weak, and short of breath.


Poor appetite, you are unable to eat.


A medicine to prevent or control nausea and vomiting.


Describes a tumor that is not cancerous.

Biologic therapy:

Treatment that stimulates the body’s immune defense system to fight infection and disease. Also called immunotherapy. Some doctors consider this a type of chemotherapy, but it is usually classified as a separate type of treatment.

Blood cell count:

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

Bone marrow:

The inner, spongy tissue of bones where blood cells are made.


A general term for more than 100 diseases in which abnormal cells grow out of control. Also used to refer to a malignant or cancerous tumor.


A thin, flexible tube. Doctors use these to place fluids in your body or as a way for fluids to leave your body.

Central venous catheter:

A special thin, flexible tube placed in a large vein, usually in the chest or neck. It can remain there for as long as it is needed to deliver and withdraw fluids.


The use of drugs to treat disease. The term most often refers to drugs used to treat cancer.


Threadlike bodies that carry genetic information. They are found in the nucleus, or center part, of a cell.

Clinical trials:

Medical research studies conducted with volunteers. Each study is designed to answer scientific questions and to find better ways to detect, prevent, or treat cancer.

Combination chemotherapy:

The use of more than one drug to treat cancer.


Having to do with the digestive tract, which includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines.

Growth factors:

Also known as colony-stimulating factors, growth factors are substances that stimulate the production of blood cells in the bone marrow. They can help the blood-forming tissue recover from the effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.


Natural substances released by an organ that can influence the function of other organs in the body and growth of some types of cancer.


Slow and/or prolonged IV delivery of a drug or fluids.


Using a syringe and needle to push fluids or drugs into the body; often called a “shot.”


Into an artery.


Into a cavity or space, specifically the abdomen, pelvis, or the chest.


Into a tumor.

Intramuscular (IM):

Into a muscle.

Intrathecal (IT):

Into the spinal fluid.

Intravenous (IV):

Into a vein.




The spread of cancer cells to distant areas of the body through the lymph system or bloodstream.

Neoadjuvant therapy:

Chemotherapy drugs (including hormones) given before surgery and/or radiation to shrink a tumor.


A decrease in the number of neutrophils (white blood cells that respond quickly to infection) in the blood. If a person has less than 1500/mm3 neutrophils, he or she is considered to be neutropenic and at risk for infection. With less than 500 cells/mm3 the risk of infection is high.


A physician who specializes in caring for people who have cancer.

Palliative care:

Treatment to relieve symptoms caused by incurable cancer. Palliative care can help people live more comfortably.

Peripheral neuropathy:

A condition of the nervous system that usually begins in the hands and/or feet with symptoms of numbness, tingling, burning and/or weakness. Can be caused by certain anticancer drugs.


Special blood cells that plug up damaged blood vessels and help blood clots to stop bleeding.


A small plastic or metal container surgically placed under the skin and attached to a central venous catheter inside the body. Blood and fluids can enter or leave the body through the port using a special needle.

Radiation therapy:

The use of high-energy rays or subatomic particles to treat disease. Types of radiation include x-ray, electron beam, alpha and beta particle, and gamma ray.

Red blood cells:

Cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to tissues throughout the body.


The partial or complete disappearance of signs and symptoms of disease

Sores on the lining of the mouth.

Topical (TOP):

Applied directly to the skin.


An abnormal growth of cells or tissues. Tumors are either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Venous access device (VAD):

A catheter that is surgically implanted under the skin.

White blood cells:

The blood cells that fight infection.

Source: American Cancer Society