Cancer can be scary enough. The words that come with it can be even scarier when you don’t know exactly what they mean. From types of cancer to treatment plans, there can be handfuls of words you have to learn. These words can often feel like just another burden on the road to recovery, but often that road is paved with what these words mean. Let’s take a second and make it all a little easier. Here are some of the most commonly used words in cancer treatment today, and what they mean:
Oncology: the study and treatment of tumors.
Malignancy: an abnormal growth of cells.
Prophylactic: done in hopes of preventing a disease.
Prognosis: the likely course of a disease or the likely outcome of a disease.
Carcinoma: cancer arising from cells in the skin or the tissue lining organs.
Sarcoma: cancer arising from cells in the connective tissue such as the bones, muscles, tendons, or cartilage, nerves, fat, or blood vessels.
Melanoma: cancer that begins in the melanocytes.
Lymphoma: cancer arising from the lymphatic system.
Leukemia: cancer that begins in the blood.
Metastasis: the development of secondary malignant growths at a distance from a primary site of cancer.
Mastectomy: a surgical procedure where part or all of the breast is removed.
Total mastectomy: removal of the entire breast including the nipple, areola, and most of the overlying skin.
Modified radical mastectomy: removal of the entire breast including the nipple, areola, most of the overlying skin, lining over the chest muscles, and lymph nodes.
Radical mastectomy: removal of the entire breast including the nipple, areola, most of the overlying skin, lining over the chest muscles, lymph nodes, and the chest muscles.
Blood transfusion: transferring blood to replace parts of the blood when a patient’s body can’t make its own or has lost them from bleeding.
Immunotherapy: treatment that uses the body’s immune system to fight the cancer by either stimulating portions of the immune system or giving the patient man-made components such as proteins; also sometimes called “biotherapy.”
Targeted therapy: a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs or other types of substances to precisely identify and attack cancer cells.
Chemotherapy: the use of medicines to treat cancer. In most cases, chemotherapy works by interfering with the cancer cell’s ability to grow and reproduce.
Radiation: X-rays, gamma rays, and charged particles are used to fight cancer.
Myelodysplastic syndrome: a group of disorders caused by poorly formed or dysfunctional blood cells; may occur as a result of chemotherapy or radiation treatments.