Hormone One of many chemicals made by glands in the body.
Hormones circulate in the bloodstream and control the actions of certain
cells or organs. Some hormones can also be made in the laboratory.
tissue growth (e.g., warts) and other changes to cells. Infection for a long
time with certain types of HPV can cause cervical cancer (see Cervical
cancer). Human papillomaviruses also play a role in some other types of
cancer, including anal, oropharyngeal, penile, vaginal, and vulvar cancers.
Immune system A diffuse, complex network of interacting cells,
cell products, and cell-forming tissues that protects the body from
invading microorganisms and other foreign substances, destroys
infected and malignant cells, and removes cellular debris. The immune
system includes the thymus, spleen, lymph nodes and lymph tissue,
stem cells, white blood cells, antibodies, and lymphokines.
Immunotherapy Treatment designed to produce immunity to a
disease or enhance the resistance of the immune system to an active
disease process, such as cancer.
Incidence rate The incidence rate is defined as the number of new
cases per population at risk in a given time period.
Lymphatic vessels The thin tubes that carry lymph and white
blood cells. Lymphatic vessels branch and grow, like blood vessels,
by a process called lymphangiogenesis into all the tissues of the body.
Lymphatic vessels are an important part of the metastatic process.
Lynch syndrome An inherited disorder in which affected individuals
have a higher-than-normal chance of developing colorectal cancer and
certain other types of cancer, often before the age of 50. Alterations in
several genes involved in DNA mismatch repair have been linked to
Lynch syndrome. Also, called hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer
Merkel cell carcinoma A rare type of cancer that forms on or just
beneath the skin, usually in parts of the body that have been exposed
to the sun. Also, called Merkel cell cancer, neuroendocrine carcinoma
of the skin, and trabecular cancer.
Metastasis The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another.
A tumor formed by cells that have spread is called a metastatic tumor or
a metastasis. The metastatic tumor contains cells that are like those in the
original (primary) tumor. The plural form of metastasis is metastases.
Microsatellite instability (MSI) A change that occurs in the DNA
of certain cells (such as tumor cells) in which the number of repeats
of microsatellites (short, repeated sequences of DNA) is different than
the number of repeats that was in the DNA when it was inherited. The
cause of microsatellite instability may be a defect in the ability to repair
mistakes made when DNA is copied in the cell.
Monoclonal antibody Antibodies are natural proteins made by a type
of immune cell called a B cell to help provide protection from pathogens
such as bacteria and viruses. The protective effects of an antibody are
determined largely by the specific protein to which it attaches. Researchers
have developed ways to generate large quantities of identical antibodies,
so called monoclonal antibodies. They have also developed several ways
to use monoclonal antibodies to treat some types of cancer.
Mutation Any change in the DNA (see Deoxyribonucleic acid) of a
cell. Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell proliferation or
by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment. Mutations
can be harmful, beneficial, or have no effect. If they occur in cells that
make eggs or sperm, they can be inherited; if mutations occur in other
types of cells, they are not inherited. Certain mutations may lead to
cancer or other diseases.
National Cancer Institute (NCI) The largest of the 27 research-focused institutes and centers of the National Institutes of Health. The
NCI coordinates the National Cancer Program, which conducts and
supports research, training, health information dissemination, and
other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and
treatment of cancer; rehabilitation from cancer; and the continuing
care of cancer patients and their families.
Neuroendocrine tumors Rare types of cancer that form from cells
that release hormones into the blood in response to a signal from the
nervous system. Neuroendocrine tumors can occur anywhere in the
body, although most frequently they arise in the lungs, appendix,
small intestine, rectum, and pancreas.
Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) A group of lung cancers
that are named for the kinds of cells found in the cancer and how the
cells look under a microscope. The three main types of NSCLC are
squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma.
NSCLC is the most common kind of lung cancer.
Oncology The branch of medicine that focuses on cancer diagnosis
Ovarian cancer Cancer that forms in tissues of the ovary (one of
a pair of female reproductive glands in which the ova, or eggs, are
formed). Most ovarian cancers are either ovarian epithelial cancers
(cancer that begins in the cells on the surface of the ovary) or malignant
germ cell tumors (cancer that begins in egg cells).
Platinum-based chemotherapy Treating cancer using
chemotherapeutic agents that are coordination complexes of platinum.
These drugs are used to treat almost 50 percent of cancer patients.
Popular among these drugs are cisplatin and carboplatin, but several
have been proposed or are under development.
Polyp A benign growth that protrudes from a mucous membrane,
most typically associated with the colon.
Precision cancer medicine The tailoring of treatments to the
individual characteristics—in particular, the genetics—of each patient
and her or his cancer. Also called personalized cancer medicine,
molecularly based cancer medicine, individualized cancer medicine,
tailored cancer medicine, and genetic cancer medicine.
Programmed death- 1 (PD- 1) A protein on the surface of immune
cells called T cells (see T cell). When PD- 1 attaches to programmed
death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) on other cells (see Programmed death-ligand
1), it sends signals into the T cells to tell them to slow down and
stop acting aggressively. Thus, PD- 1 acts as an immune checkpoint
protein or brake.