Glossary of Cancer Terms

   

Imagery

Also called visualization, an ancient technique used for a variety of purposes. Its basis is the belief if you create a strong mental picture of what you want, while affirming that you can and will get it, you can make virtually anything happen. Used in combination with meditation and relaxation techniques.

Imaging tests

Tests that produce pictures of areas inside the body which help diagnose and stage cancer.

Immune system

The Immune system is a complex network of cells and organs that work together to defend the body against foreign substances (antigens) such as bacteria, a virus or tumor cell. When the body discovers such a substance several kinds of cells go into action in what is called an immune response.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy, also called biological therapy, is a type of treatment that mobilizes the body’s immune system to fight cancer. The therapy mainly consists of stimulating the immune system to help it do its job more effectively.

Implant

A sac filled with saline (salt water) or silicone gel that is inserted under the chest muscle to restore breast shape. Or a radioactive source in a small holder that is placed in the body in or near a cancer.

Implant radiation

Radiation therapy that is given internally. This is done by placing radioactive material that is sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters directly into or near the tumor. Also called internal radiation, interstitial radiation, or brachytherapy.

Impotence

Weakness, inability of the male to achieve or maintain an erection.

In Situ/Non-Invasive Cancer

Earliest stage of cancer which is confined to the original site.

Incision

A cut made in the body during surgery.

Incisional biopsy

The surgical removal of a portion of an abnormal area of tissue by cutting into (incising) it for microscopic examination.

Incontinence

Inability to control the flow of urine from the bladder (urinary incontinence) or the escape of stool from the rectum (fecal incontinence).

Indolent Lymphoma

Lymphoma that grows slowly and has few symptoms.

Induction therapy

The initial treatment - usually with chemotherapy- to eliminate or control cancer. Usually applied to leukemia or lymphoma.

Infection

Invasion of the body tissues by microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses.

Infertility

The inability to produce children.

Infiltrating Cancer
(Invasive Cancer)

Cancer that has spread to nearby tissue, lymph nodes under the arm, or other parts of the body.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

A rare type of advanced breast cancer. Called "inflammatory" because its first symptoms are usually a redness and warmth in the skin of the breast, often without a distinct lump.

Informed consent

A legal standard defining how much a patient must know about the potential benefits and risks of therapy before agreeing to receive it.

Infusion

Administration of fluids and/or medications into a vein or artery over a period of time.

Inguinal Pertaining to the groin, the common site for hernias and the location of the inguinal lymph nodes, an area where cancer may spread.

Inguinal orchiectomy

Surgery to remove the testicle through the groin.

Injection

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

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

A group of scientists, doctors, clergy, and consumers at each health care facility where a clinical trial takes place. IRBs review and must approve the protocols for all clinical trials conducted at the institution. They are designed to protect patients who take part in studies. They check to see that the study is well-designed, does not involve undue risks, and includes safeguards for patients.

Insulin

A hormone made by the islet cells of the pancreas. Insulin is essential for the proper metabolism of blood sugar (glucose) and for maintainence of the proper blood sugar level.

Interferons

Natural substances produced in response to infections. They have been created artificially by recombinant DNA technology to be used as treatment to control cancer.

Interleukins

A group of cytokines produced by body cells that convey molecular messages between cells of the immune system. Interleukin-2 (IL-2), the best known of these, acts primarily on T lymphocytes; it is being used in the treatment of cancer.

Internal radiation

Radiation therapy that is given internally. This is done by placing radioactive material that is sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters directly into or near the tumor. Also called internal radiation, interstitial radiation, or brachytherapy.

Interstitial radiation

A radioactive source (implant) placed directly into the cancerous tissue.

Intervention group

The group receiving the intervention that is being tested in a clinical trial or clinical study.

Intra-arterial (IA)

Drugs directed into an artery by a catheter.

Intracavitary (IC)

Treatment directed into a body cavity via a catheter.

Intracavitary radiation

A radioactive source (implant) placed in a body cavity to deliver the treatment dose of the radiation.

Intraductal Carcinoma
(DCIS)

Abnormal cells that are contained within the duct of the breast. These are early cancers or precancerous lesions that have not developed the ability to become invasive.

Intraductal papilloma

A small wart-like growth on the lining of the duct of the breast.

Intraepithelial

Within the layer of cells that forms the surface or lining of an organ.

Intralesional (IL)

Into the cancerous area in the skin.

Intramuscular (IM)

The injection of a drug into a muscle; from there it is absorbed into the circulation.

Intraocular Melanoma A rare cancer in which cancer cells are found in the part of the eye called the uvea. The uvea contains melanocytes and is the pigmented (color) layer of the eye.

Intraoperative radiation

External radiation treatment given during surgery to deliver a large dose of radiation to the tumor bed and surrounding tissue.

Intraperitoneal chemotherapy

Delivery of chemotherapy directly into the abdominal cavity via a catheter.

Intrathecal (IT)

Delivery of drugs into the spinal fluid.

Intravenous (IV)

Administration of drugs or fluids directly into a vein.

Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)

A series of x-rays of the kidneys and bladder. The x-rays are taken after a dye, is injected into a vein.

Intravesical

Within the bladder.

Invasive Cancer

Cancer that has spread beyond the layer of tissue in which it developed and is growing into surrounding, healthy tissues. Also called infiltrating cancer.

Investigational new drug

A drug allowed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used in clinical trials but not approved by the FDA for commercial marketing.

Investigator

A researcher in a treatment study.

Islet Cell Cancer A very uncommon tumor making up about 5 percent of all pancreatic cancers. Cancer arising from cells in the islets of Langerhans located in the pancreas. The islet cells produce insulin to regulate the body's metabolism of glucose, as well as other hormones such as gastrin, glucagon, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), somatostatin, pancreatic polypeptide (PP), ACTH and others. An islet cell tumor may be either functioning or nonfunctioning. Functioning tumors secrete one or more hormones normally produced by the bowel endocrine cells and pancreatic islet cells. Most functioning tumors are benign and are classified as adenomas. Most islet cell cancers are nonfunctioning and 90% of these nonfunctioning tumors are malignant.

Islets of Langerhans

Hormone-producing cells in the pancreas, the islet cells produce insulin to regulate the body's metabolism of glucose, as well as other hormones such as gastrin, glucagon, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), somatostatin, pancreatic polypeptide (PP), ACTH and others.

 

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