Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) - An aggressive (fast-growing) type of
leukemia (blood cancer) in which too many lymphoblasts (immature white blood
cells) are found in the blood and bone marrow. Also called acute lymphocytic
B cell - A type of immune cell that makes proteins, called antibodies, which bind
to microorganisms and other foreign substances, and help fight infections. A B
cell is a type of white blood cell. Also called B lymphocyte.
BCR-ABL - A protein made from pieces of two genes that are joined together. It
is found in most patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), and in some
patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) or acute myelogenous leukemia
(AML). Inside the leukemia cells, the ABL gene from chromosome 9 joins to the
BCR gene on chromosome 22 to form the BCR-ABL fusion gene, which makes
the BCR-ABL fusion protein.
Biomedical Research Inflation - Biomedical research inflation is calculated
using the annual change in the Biomedical Research and Development Price
Index (BRDPI), which indicates how much the NIH budget must change to
maintain purchasing power. Over the past five year, the biomedical inflation rate
has been double the economy-wide inflation rate on average.
Biospecimen - Samples of material, such as urine, blood, tissue, cells, DNA,
RNA, and protein from humans, animals, or plants. Biospecimens are stored in a
biobank or biorepository and are used for laboratory research. If the samples are
from people, medical information may also be stored along with a written consent
to use the samples in laboratory studies.
Biomarker - A biological molecule found in blood, other body fluids or tissues
that is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease. A
biomarker may be used to see how well the body responds to a treatment for a
disease or condition. Also called molecular marker and signature molecule.
BRAF - The BRAF protein is generated from the BRAF gene. It is found
inside certain cell types, where it is involved in sending signals that direct
cell proliferation. Mutations in the BRAF gene have been associated with
various cancers, including some non-Hodgkin lymphomas, colorectal cancers,
melanomas, thyroid cancers, and lung cancers.
Breast cancer - Cancer that forms in tissues of the breast. The most common
type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which begins in the lining of the milk
ducts (thin tubes that carry milk from the lobules of the breast to the nipple).
Another type of breast cancer is lobular carcinoma, which begins in the lobules
(milk glands) of the breast. Invasive breast cancer is breast cancer that has
spread from where it began in the breast ducts or lobules to surrounding normal
tissue. Breast cancer occurs in both men and women, although male breast
cancer is rare.
Breast cancer resistance genes 1 and 2 (BRCA1/2) - Genes that normally help
to suppress cell growth. A person who inherits certain mutations (changes) in a
BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene has a higher risk of getting breast, ovarian, prostate, and
some other types of cancer.
Cancer - A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and
can invade nearby tissues. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body
through the blood and lymph systems. There are several main types of cancer.
Carcinoma is a cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover
internal organs. Sarcoma is a cancer that begins in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle,
blood vessels, or other connective or supportive tissue. Leukemia is a cancer
that starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow, and causes large
numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the blood. Lymphoma
and multiple myeloma are cancers that begin in the cells of the immune system.
Central nervous system cancers are cancers that begin in the tissues of the brain
and spinal cord. Also called malignancy.
Carcinogen - Any substance that causes cancer.
Cervical cancer - A group of cancers that are named for the kinds of cells
found in the cancer and by how they look under a microscope. The two main
types of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.
Most cervical cancers are caused by persistent infection with certain strains of
human papilloma virus (HPV). Normal cells of the cervix do not suddenly become
cancerous, they first gradually develop precancerous changes then later turn into
cancer. These changes can be detected by the Pap test and treated to prevent
the development of cancer.
Chemotherapy - The use of different drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer
Chromosome - Part of a cell that contains genetic information. Except for sperm
and eggs, all human cells contain 46 chromosomes.
Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) - A slowly progressing disease in which
too many white blood cells (not lymphocytes) are made in the bone marrow. Also
called chronic granulocytic leukemia and chronic myeloid leukemia.
Clinical trial - A type of research study that tests how well new medical
approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening,
prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a disease. Also called clinical study.
Clinical trial phase - A part of the clinical research process that answers
specific questions about whether treatments that are being studied work and are
safe. Phase I trials test the best way to give a new treatment and the best safe
dose. Phase II trials test whether a new treatment has an effect on the disease.
Phase III trials compare the results of people taking a new treatment with the
results of people taking the standard treatment. Phase IV trials are done using
large populations of people after a treatment has been approved and marketed,
to check for side effects that were not seen in the phase III trial.
Colonoscopy - Examination of the inside of the colon using a colonoscope,
inserted into the rectum. A colonoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light
and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked
under a microscope for signs of disease.
Colorectal cancer - A group of cancers that start in the colon or the rectum.
More than 95% of colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas that start in cells that
form glands that make mucus to lubricate the inside of the colon and rectum.
Before a colorectal cancer develops, a growth of tissue or tumor usually begins
as a noncancerous polyp on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Most polyps
can be found, for example through colonoscopy, and removed before they have
the chance to turn into cancer.
Computed tomography (CT) - A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the
body taken from different angles. The pictures are created by a computer linked
to an x-ray machine. Also called CAT scan, computerized axial tomography scan,
and computerized tomography.
Cytotoxic chemotherapy - Anticancer drugs that kill cells, especially cancer
Cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen- 4 (C TLA- 4) - A protein on the surface of
immune cells called T cells (see T cell). When CTLA- 4 attaches to certain
proteins on other immune cells, it sends signals into the T cells to tell them
to slow down and stop acting aggressively. Thus, CTLA- 4 acts as an immune
Death rate/mortality rate - The number of deaths in a certain group of people in
a certain period of time. Mortality may be reported for people who have a certain
disease, live in one area of the country, or who are of a certain gender, age, or
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) - The molecules inside cells that carry genetic
information and pass it from one generation to the next.
Drug Resistance - The failure of cancer cells, viruses, or bacteria to respond to a
drug used to kill or weaken them. The cells, viruses, or bacteria may be resistant
to the drug at the beginning of treatment or may become resistant after being
exposed to the drug.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) - A protein found on the surface
of some cells to which epidermal growth factor binds, causing the cells to
proliferate. It is found at abnormally high levels on the surface of many types of
cancer cells, so these cells may divide excessively in the presence of epidermal
growth factor. Also called ErbB1 and HER1.
Endpoint - In clinical trials, an event or outcome that can be measured
objectively to determine whether the intervention being studied is beneficial. The
endpoints of a clinical trial are usually included in the study objectives. Some
examples of endpoints are survival, improvements in quality of life, relief of
symptoms, and disappearance of the tumor.
Epidemiology - The study of the patterns, causes, and control of disease in
groups of people.