Quantcast Cancer Terminology - Cancer Term Definitions, Glossary
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Adjuvant: An adjuvant is a substance that helps and enhances the pharmacological effect of a drug or increases the ability of an antigen to stimulate the immune system.

Angiogenesis: The process whereby new blood vessels form, in response to chemical signals produced by wounded tissue or by tumors. Angiogenesis plays a crucial role in the growth and spread of cancer. Angiogenesis also occurs in the healthy body, promoting wound healing and restoring blood flow to tissues after injury.

Antioxidant: Any substance that reduces the damage caused by oxidation, such as the harm caused by free radicals.

Apoptosis: A natural process of programmed cell death, in which cells "commit suicide" in a way that provokes minimal inflammation. Apoptosis plays a key role in body development, prevents the organs of adults from growing indefinitely, and helps to prevent development of cancer. Many chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells by inducing apoptosis.

Ascorbate: The ionized (negatively charged) form of vitamin C – as in the compound sodium ascorbate.


Cachexia: Weight loss, wasting of muscle, loss of appetite, and general debility that can occur during a chronic disease such as cancer.

Cytotoxic: Producing a toxic effect on cells.


Epigenetic: Changes of DNA (genetic) structure and function that do not involve permanent changes in the DNA base code that determines protein structures. These changes include reversible methylation of cytosine bases in DNA, and reversible acetylation of histones and other nuclear proteins that regulate the production of messenger RNA. Epigenetic changes in cancer cells often play a role in their destructive behavior, and are a major reason why many cancers evolve tolerance to chemotherapies than they formerly responded to. Drugs that can reverse these changes are now being assessed in cancer therapy.


Free Radicals: Compounds with an unpaired electron, which makes them extremely reactive.


Glutamine: Glutamine is a nutritionally non-essential amino acid (as it can be synthesized in the body) that is an important source of calories for gastrointestinal tissues. It also serves as an important carrier of ammonia, and contributes it to the formation of urea and and of purines (which are essential to make DNA and RNA).


Integrative Cancer Treatment: Therapy in which conventional cancer treatments are combined with complementary and alternative measures.

Interleukin-2: A "cytokine" hormone produced by certain immune cells that is crucial for the multiplication of many immune cells, including the T cells and natural killer cells that attack cancer.


Malignant: A medical term used to describe a severe and progressively worsening disease. The term is most familiar as a description of cancer. A malignant tumor may be contrasted with a non-cancerous benign tumor in that a malignancy is not self-limited in its growth, is capable of invading into adjacent tissues, and may be capable of spreading to distant tissues (metastasizing), while a benign tumor has none of those properties.

Melatonin: A hormone produced in the pineal gland at the base of the brain, primarily at nighttime, that helps to establish the daily and seasonal rhythms of brain function. Melatonin also has antioxidant effects on many tissues, and promotes effective immune function.

Metastasis: The spread of disease from one part of the body to another, as when cancer cells appear in parts of the body remote from the site of the primary tumor. The new tumors that form in this way are known as "metastases".

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Nutraceuticals: Nutrients, phytochemicals, or herbal extracts that can be ingested in medicinal formats (capsule, tablet, or powder) and that are believed to have health-promoting effects in some circumstances.


Oxidative Stress: A cellular condition in which of the rate of free radical generation exceeds the rate at which these radicals can be scavenged or removed by antioxidant enzymes and small molecule antioxidants. This can lead to tissue damage or inflammation.

Ozone: A highly reactive form of oxygen (O3) that creates oxidative stress in tissues exposed to it.

Ozone Autohemotherapy: A therapeutic procedure, long in use in Europe, in which a modest quantity of blood is drawn from a patient, mixed with ozonated oxygen, and then re-infused into the patient. This strategy can boost the body’s antioxidant defenses and decrease the viscosity of blood. Used in conjunction with cancer chemotherapy, it may improve oxygenation of the tumor and provide a measure of protection to healthy tissues through its antioxidant effect.


Perftec: A perflurocarbon emulsion that allows for the efficient intra-vascular transportation of oxygen to all cells throughout the body. Perftec can be used to improve the oxygenation of tumors so that they will be more responsive to chemotherapy or irradiation.

Phytochemicals: Non-nutritive plant chemicals that have protective or disease preventive properties. There are more than a thousand known phytochemicals. Plants often produce these chemicals to protect themselves from pathogens; however recent research demonstrates that many phytochemicals can help to protect humans from diseases. Some of the well-known phytochemicals are lycopene in tomatoes, isoflavones in soy, and flavanoids in fruits.

Probiotics: Bacteria that can colonize the gastrointestinal tract and are beneficial to a person's health, either through protecting the body against pathogenic bacteria or by assisting in recovery from an illness.


Salsalate: A drug that is derived from, and converted in the body to, the natural anti-inflammatory compound salicylic acid, found in white willow bark. Salsalate has long been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis; it is far safer than aspirin or other "NSAID" drugs, and is better tolerated than salicylic acid, though in excessive doses it can (reversibly) impair hearing.

Silymarin: A phytochemical complex extracted from milk thistle; its chief component is the flavolignan silibinin. Silymarin has long been used in the treatment and prevention of liver diseases because of its hepatoprotective (antihepatotoxic) properties. Oral administration of silymarin slows the growth of many types of human cancer transplanted into genetically immunodeficient mice.

Stage IV Cancer: Any size tumor that has spread beyond the initial site and has traveled to another organ.

Stem cells: One of the human body's master cells, with the ability to grow into any one of the body's more than 200 cell types. All stem cells are unspecialized (undifferentiated) cells that are characteristically of the same family type (lineage). They retain the ability to divide throughout life and give rise to cells that can become highly specialized and take the place of cells that die or are lost.


Treg cells: Special immune white cells (T cells) that regulate or suppress immune responses. Treg cells are often found in tumors, where they protect cancer cells from immune rejection.


Vitamin K: A fat-soluble vitamin required by the liver for production of blood-borne clotting factors; also required for formation of strong bones. In conjunction with high concentrations of ascorbate, vitamin K can catalyze the production of free radicals.


White blood cells: Cells of the immune system that help defend the body from infectious agents and help dissolve foreign materials.

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