Understanding Cancerspeak

Alopecia: Hair loss, which can sometimes occur as a side effect of chemo.

Anemia: A serious shortage of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness and shortness of breath.

Antiemetic: A drug that controls (or even prevents) nausea and vomiting.

Blood cell count: Also called a complete blood cell count (CBC), this test checks the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in a sample of blood.

Bone marrow: The inner tissue of bones, which is where blood cells are made.

Colony-stimulating factors: White blood cell boosters.

Infusion: The intravenous (IV) delivery of meds or fluids. This can occur quickly, or take several hours.

Intravenous: Given through a vein.

Malignant: Cancerous.

Metastasis: The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another. A tumor that’s formed from cells that have spread is a metastasis or metastatic tumor.

Neutropenia: A risky decrease in the body’s levels of infection-fighting white blood cells.

Oncologist: A doctor who specializes in treating cancer.

Peripheral neuropathy: Nerve damage in the hands and/or feet, which can cause pain, tingling, burning or numbness.

Port: An implanted device that allows drugs to be given through an IV.

Prognosis: The most likely course of a disease; the chance of recovery versus recurrence.

Radiation therapy: The use of high-energy radiation from X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

Remission: The partial or complete disappearance of the signs and symptoms of a disease.

Thrombocytopenia: A shortage of platelets—the tiny cells that help blood clot. Symptoms include easy bruising, nosebleeds, bleeding gums and/or small red or purple dots on the skin.


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