Glossary of Cancer Terms

   

Hair follicle

Shaft or opening on the surface of the skin through which the hair grows.

Hairy Cell Leukemia

A moderately rare type of chronic leukemia. A specific type of lymphoid cell found in the bone marrow or the blood uniquely describes this leukemia. Persons who get this are usually elderly. The disease is rarely cured and about 10% of patients do not need treatment for years. Patients may have prolonged survival with treatment.

Head and Neck Cancer Cancer which occurs in the face, oral cavity or neck. Taken together head and neck cancers account for 5 to 10 percent of all cancers.

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)

Bacteria found to be an important cause of stomach ulcers.

Hemangioperisarcoma A type of soft tissue sarcoma in which the tissue of origin is the blood vessels. Soft tissue sarcomas are uncommon malignant tumors that begin in the soft tissues such as muscles, cartilage, fat, or connective tissue. Each year, in the United States, there are about 6,000 cases of soft tissue sarcomas, making up 1% of all cancers in adults and 15% of all cancers in children. There are at least 56 different types of soft tissue sarcomas named according to the normal tissues from which the tumor is derived. In most cases, surgery is considered first-line therapy.
Hemangiosarcoma A type of soft tissue sarcoma in which the tissue of origin is the blood vessels. Soft tissue sarcomas are uncommon malignant tumors that begin in the soft tissues such as muscles, cartilage, fat, or connective tissue. Each year, in the United States, there are about 6,000 cases of soft tissue sarcomas, making up 1% of all cancers in adults and 15% of all cancers in children. There are at least 56 different types of soft tissue sarcomas named according to the normal tissues from which the tumor is derived. In most cases, surgery is considered first-line therapy.

Hematologist

A doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the blood.

Hepatic

Related to the liver.

Hepatocellular Cancer Cancer originating in the liver itself also called primary liver cancer. It may be the most common cancer worldwide. It occurs with great frequency in Asia and Africa, but is relatively uncommon in the United States.

Hereditary risk factor

When there is a family predispostition to cancer, heredity may be the first event that promotes the growth of cancer. A cell may be especially vulnerable to a carcinogen. Probably less than 2% of cancers are caused directly by heredity. The majority of family histories of cancer result from a complex interaction of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.

High dose-rate remote brachytherapy

Also known as high dose-rate remote radiation therapy. A type of brachytherapy (radioactive material sealed in needles, seeds, wires or catheters is placed directly into or near the tumor) in which the radioactive source is placed using special equipment without exposing others to the radiation. Higher doses of radiation can be used and placed for shorter times, allowing time between doses.

Hodgkin's Disease (HD) Also called Hodgkin's lymphoma. A cancer of the lymphatic system that is characterized by painless enlargement of lymph nodes. The malignant cell characteristic of HD is known as the Reed-Sternberg cell, named after the two pathologists who first described it. HD is an uncommon malignancy, effects adolescents and young adults, with treatment has a substantial cure rate.

Hormone

Naturally occuring substances that are released by the endocrine organs and circulate in the blood. Hormones control growth, metabolism, reproduction and other functions, and can stimulate or turn off the growth or activity of specific target cells.

Hormone receptor test

A test to measure the amount of certain proteins, called hormone receptors, in cancer tissue. Hormones can attach to these proteins. A high level of hormone receptors may mean that hormones help the cancer grow.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Hormones (estrogen and/or progesterone) given to postmenopausal women or women who have had their ovaries removed surgically. These hormones are given to replace estrogen no longer produced by the ovaries.

Hormone therapy

Treatment of cancer by removing, blocking, or adding hormones.

Hospice

A philosophy of care that stresses comfort, peace of mind and the control of symptoms. Hospice care, is provided on either an outpatient or inpatient basis, is generally invoked when no further anticancer therapy is available and life expectancy is short. Hospice also helps family and friends to care for and cope with the loss of a dying loved one.

Human Genome Project

An international research effort directed at mapping all of the genes to better understand their functions and help to understand and treat genetic diseases.

Human papillomaviruses

Viruses that generally cause warts. Some are sexually transmitted. Some of the sexually transmitted papillomaviruses are thought to cause abnormal changes in cells of the cervix.

Hydrocephalus

The abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain. Due to blockage of cerebrospinal fluid flow, increased production, or decreased absorption.

Hyperfractionated radiation

An increased number of smaller dosage treatments of radiation therapy.

Hyperplasia

Excessive growth of normal cells.

Hyperthermia

Treatment of disease by raising bodily temperature.

Hypnosis

A person enters into a trance-like state, becomes more aware and focused, and is more open to suggestion.

Hypothalamus

The area of the brain that controls thirst, urination, sleep, body temperature, appetite, and blood pressure. The hypothalamus coordinates patterns of activity and controls emotions. It is also the control center for the pituitary gland.

Hysterectomy

An operation in which the uterus is removed.

 

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