Glossary of Cancer Terms

   

Salivary glands

Glands in the mouth that produce saliva.

Salpingo-oophorectomy

Surgery to remove a fallopian tube and an ovary. Bilateral salping-oophorectomy means that both the ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed.

Sarcoma

Sarcomas are uncommon malignant tumors that begin either in bones or in 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 and 2,000 cases of bone sarcoma, 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.

Schwannoma

A type of tumor that developes in the nerve sheath (covering of the nerve). Can be benign, occuring most commonly in people aged 20 to 50 years old. Common sites include the head and neck and the extremities. Malignant schwannoma are aggressive, locally invasive and highly metastatic.

Screening

Testing or examining for disease when there are no symptoms. Screening is done in healthy individuals in an effort t detect disease early.

Scrotum

The pouch of skin that contains the testicles.

Segmental mastectomy

The removal of the cancer as well as some of the breast tissue around the tumor and the lining over the chest muscles below the tumor. Usually some of the lymph nodes under the arm are taken out. Sometimes called a partial mastectomy.

Seizures

Convulsions; sudden, involuntary movements of the muscles.

Semen

The fluid that is released through the penis during orgasm. Semen is made up of sperm from the testicles and fluid from the prostate and other sex glands.

Seminal fluid

Fluid from the prostate and other sex glands that helps transport sperm out of the man’s body during orgasm. Seminal fluid contains sugar as an energy source for sperm.

Seminal vesicles

Male sex glands that help produce semen.

Seminoma

A type of testicular cancer that arises from sex cells, or germ cells, at a very earl stage in their development.

Sentinel lymph node
(Sentinel node)

The first lymph nodes cancer is likely to spread to from the primary tumor.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy

Also called sentinal node biopsy. Procedure in which a dye and radioactive substance is injected into the area of the tumor and allowed to travel to the sentinel lymph node(s). A surgeon looks for the dye and uses a scanner to find the sentinel lymph node(s) and removes it (them) to send to pathology to check for the presence of cancer cells.

Shave biopsy

A procedure where only the part of a mole that is above the surface of the skin is removed with a small blade. The patient receives a local anesthetic (given either by injection or by a cream applied to the skin). There is little bleeding and no need for stitches with this procedure.

Shunt

A catheter (tube) that carries fluid from one place in the body to another place in the body.

Side effects

Problems that occur when treatment affects healthy cells. Common side effects of cancer treatment are fatigue, nausea, vomiting, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss and mouth sores. Not all patients experience side effects and their incidence and severity vary from individual to individual.

Sigmoidoscopy

An examination of the rectum and the lower end of the colon using a thin, lighted instrument called a sigmoidoscope.

Silicone

A synthetic gel that is used as an outer coating on breast implants and to make up the inside filling of some implants.

Simulation

The process used to plan radiation therapy so that the target area is precisely located and marked.

Single blind study

A type of clinical trial where the patient does not know whether he/she is receiving the standard treatment or the experimental treatment but the doctor does know which treatment the patient is taking. This type of study is done to prevent bias.

Sinus A cavity in the bone of the skull connecting to the nose. These include frontal, maxillary, ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses.
Skin Cancer Cancer of the skin. Usually one of three types: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or malignant melanoma.

Skin graft

Skin that is moved from one part of the body to another.

Small Cell Lung Cancer Lung cancer are divided into two types – small cell lung cancer and non small cell lung cancer. The cancer cells of each type grow and spread in different ways and they are treated differently. Small cell lung cancer is a disease in which cancer cells are found in the tissues of the lungs. Small cell lung cancer is usually found in people who smoke or used to smoke. Small cell lung cancer is usually inoperable.

Small intestine
(Small bowel)

The part of the digestive tract that connects the stomach and the large intestine. The parts of the small intestine include the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.

Small Intestine Cancer A rare cancer that develops in the small intestine. The parts of the small intestine include the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.

Social worker

A professional who can talk with you and your family about your emotional or physical needs and can help you find support services.

Soft Tissue Sarcoma 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.

Sonogram

The image produced by ultrasound.

Speculum

An instrument used to spread the vagina open so that the cervix can be seen.

Sperm banking

Freezing sperm for use in the future. This procedure can allow men to father children after loss of fertility.

Sperm retrieval

The doctor removes sperm from a man’s reproductive tract (testis or epididymis) using a fine needle, biopsy gun, or other instrument.

Spinal fluid (Cerebrospinal fluid) A clear fluid made in the ventricular cavities of the brain that bathes the brain and spinal cord. It circulates through the ventricles and subarachnoid space.

Spinal tap

Removal of a small amount of spinal fluid through a needle placed in the spinal column. The fluid is examined for cancer cells and other conditions.

Spleen

An organ that is a part of the lymphatic system. The spleen produces lymphocytes, filters the blood, stores blood cells, and destroys those that are aging. It is located on the left side of the abdomen near the stomach.

Splenectomy

An operation to remove the spleen.

Sputum

Mucus that comes from the throat and lungs.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Cancer that begins in squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells resembling fish scales. Squamous cells are found in the tissue that forms the surface of the skin, the lining of hollow organs of the body, and the passages of the respiratory and digestive tracts.

Squamous cells

Thin, flat cells resembling fish scales. Squamous cells are found in the tissue that forms the surface of the skin, the lining of hollow organs of the body, and the passages of the respiratory and digestive tracts.

Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion (SIL)

A general term for the abnormal growth of squamous cells on the surface of the cervix. The changes in the cells are described as low grade or high grade, depending on how much of the cervix is affected an how abnormal the cells are.

Stage

A system used to describe the extent of cancer. Stage takes into consideration the size of the cancer, amount of local involvement and whether and where the disease has spread. Stage is used to help determine treatment options and prognosis. Most cancers have 4 stages.

Standard

Usual, common, customary.

Standard treatment

The best treatment currently known for a cancer, based on results of past research.

Stem cell transplant

A procedure that allows high-dose chemotherapy to be given through the transplanting of the patient’s own stem cells.

Stem cells

Cells that are produced in the bone marrow from which all types of blood cells are derived.

Stereotactic localization biopsy

A technique that employs three dimensional x-ray to pinpoint a specific target area. It is used in conjunction with needle biopsy of non-palpable breast abnormalities.

Stereotaxis

The use of a computer and scanning devices to create three-dimensional pictures. This method is used to direct a biopsy, external radiation, or insertion of radiation implants.

Stoma

An opening in the abdomen, created surgically, for the purpose of passing urine (urostomy) or stool (ileostomy, colostomy). A bag is worn over the stoma to collect the drainage.

Stomach

A muscular pouch that helps in the digestion of food by mixing it with digestive juices and churning it into a thin liquid.

Stomach Cancer Cancer that develops in the major organ that holds food for digestion. Stomach cancer (gastric cancer) can develop in any part of the stomach. It is potentially very treatable if discovered early and is amenable to surgery.

Stomatitis

Inflammation of the mouth. Stomatitis can be caused by many factors or conditions and is common in people who are receiving chemotherapy. Symptoms are heat, pain, and difficulty eating.

Stool

The solid waste discharged from the bowel.

Subcutaneous (SQ or SC)

Under the skin.

Subglottis

The lowest part of the larynx; the area from just below the vocal cords down to the top of the trachea.

Sun protective factor (SPF)

A scale for rating sunscreens. Sunscreens with an SPF or 15 or higher provide the best protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

Sunscreen

A substance that helps to block the effect of the sun’s harmful rays. Using lotions or creams that contain sunscreens can help protect the skin from premature skin aging and damage that may lead to skin cancer.

Supportive care

Treatment given to prevent, control, or relieve complications and side effects and to improve a patient’s quality of life.

Supraglottis

The upper part of the larynx, including the epiglottis; the area above the vocal cords.

Surgeon, surgical oncologist

A doctor who performs biopsies and other surgical procedures such as removing a lump or a breast.

Surgery

A procedure to remove or repair a diseased part of the body or to determine if disease is present.

Surgical biopsy

The surgical removal of tissue for microscopic examination and diagnosis. Surgical biopsies can be either excisional (see excisional biopsy) or incisional (see incisional biopsy).

Synovial Sarcoma A type of soft tissue sarcoma where the most common location of origin is around but not in the joints. 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.

Systemic

Affecting the entire body.

Systemic therapy

Treatment that uses substances that travel through the bloodstream, reaching and affecting cells all over the body.

 

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