Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) The most common type of leukemia
(blood cancer) diagnosed in the United States. AML is a fast-growing
cancer in which the bone marrow makes abnormal myeloblasts (a
type of white blood cell), red blood cells, or platelets. It is also called
acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, or acute
Adjuvant therapy Additional cancer treatment that is given after
the primary treatment to lower the risk that the cancer will come
back. Adjuvant therapy may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy,
hormone therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy.
Ampullary cancer A rare cancer that forms in the ampulla of Vater
(an enlargement of the ducts from the liver and pancreas where they
join and enter the small intestine). Also, called ampulla of Vater cancer.
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 cancers (see Non–small
cell lung cancer), some neuroblastomas, and some lymphomas—in
particular, anaplastic large cell lymphomas.
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.
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.
BRCA1/2 (Breast Cancer Resistance Genes 1 and 2) Genes that
produce proteins that are involved in repairing damaged DNA. Females
who inherit certain mutations (see Mutation) in a BRCA1 or BRCA2
gene are at increased risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer,
and some other types of cancer. Males who inherit certain BRCA1 or
BRCA2 mutations are at increased risk of developing breast cancer,
prostate cancer, and some other types of cancer.
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.
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
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,
Clinical trial A type of research study that tests how well new
medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods
for screening, preventing, diagnosing, or treating a disease. Also
called clinical study.
Colonoscopy Examination of the inside of the colon using a
colonoscope that is 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 percent of colorectal cancers are
adenocarcinomas that arise in cells forming 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 turn into cancer.