Acute lymphoblastic 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
Anaplastic lymphoma receptor tyrosine kinase (ALK)
The ALK gene makes the ALK protein, which is found
on the surface of some cells. The protein can initiate a
variety of signaling pathways (see Signaling pathway/
signaling network), causing proliferation of the cells on
which it is found. The ALK gene is altered in several types
of cancer, including some non–small cell lung cancer (see
Non–small cell lung cancer), some neuroblastomas (see
Neuroblastoma), and some lymphomas—in particular,
anaplastic large cell lymphomas.
Angiogenesis The process of growing new blood vessels
from the existing vasculature. Angiogenesis is important
for numerous normal body functions, as well as tumor
growth and metastasis.
Basal cell carcinoma A form of skin cancer that begins
in a type of cell in the skin that produces new skin cells
as old ones die off. It is the most common cancer, but it
rarely metastasizes (spreads to other parts of the body).
Also called basal cell cancer.
B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL- 2) The BCL- 2 gene makes
the BCL- 2 protein, which promotes cell survival by
preventing cells from undergoing a natural self-destruct
process called apoptosis. The BCL- 2 gene is altered in
many follicular lymphomas, and the BCL- 2 protein has
been implicated in some other forms of cancer, including
chronic lymphocytic leukemia (see Follicular lymphoma
and Chronic lymphocytic leukemia).
Biomedical inflation Biomedical 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. In general, the biomedical inflation rate outpaces
the economy-wide inflation rate.
Body mass index (BMI) Calculated as a person’s weight in
kilograms divided by height in meters. BMI provides an
indicator of body fatness for most people, and it is often
used to determine whether a person is underweight, of
healthy weight, overweight, or obese.
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.
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. Carcinomas begin in the skin or in tissues that
line or cover internal organs. Sarcomas begin in bone,
cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective
or supportive tissue. Leukemias arise in blood-forming
tissue, such as the bone marrow and cause large numbers
of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the
blood. Lymphomas and multiple myeloma originate in
the cells of the immune system. Central nervous system
cancers arise in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord.
Also called malignancy.
Carcinogen Any substance that causes cancer.
Cervical cancer A term for cancers arising in the cervix
(the area where the uterus connects to the vagina). 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
papillomavirus (HPV; see Human papillomavirus). 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 Papanicolaou (Pap) test and treated to prevent the
development of cancer.
Chemotherapy The use of different drugs to kill or slow
the growth of cancer cells.
Chromosome Structure within the nucleus of a cell that
contains genetic information (DNA) and its associated
proteins (see Deoxyribonucleic acid and Epigenetics).
Except for sperm and eggs, nearly all nondiseased human
cells contain 46 chromosomes.
Chromosomal translocation Genomic alteration in
which a whole chromosome or segment of a chromosome
becomes attached to or interchanged with another
whole chromosome or segment (see Chromosome).
Chromosomal translocations can, in some cases, fuel
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) One of the most
common types of leukemia (blood cancer) diagnosed