Glossary of terms that you might hear as a young carer
Doctors often use unfamiliar and strange words that you may not understand. Here are some of the most common ones explained.
A-Z of terms you might hear
Written by people who've been in your shoes
The advice in this section has been written by people who are 12-18 and caring for someone with cancer. You can download their complete handbook - Let's talk about you [PDF, 2.1MB].
A drug that puts people to sleep while they have an operation or procedure.
A drug, cream or injection to make part of the body temporarily numb.
This means non-cancerous. Benign tumours usually grow slowly and don’t spread.
This is when a doctor takes a small sample of tissue from the body to be examined under a microscope, to see whether or not the cells are cancerous.
This is a blood test to measure the number of platelets, red blood cells and white blood cells in the blood. Platelets help the blood clot if you have a cut or become bruised. Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body. White blood cells help defend your body against illness.
The process by which cells divide in two – doubling their number each time. This is how living things develop and grow.
A thin, flexible tube inserted through the vein near the heart for chemotherapy. One end stays outside the body.
The use of anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells.
Agreement to treatment.
The microscopic study of individual body cells. This is very important in making a diagnosis.
When the doctors know the kind of disease the patient has.
When someone can’t get pregnant or make someone pregnant.
This means that a drug or fluid is given into a vein.
A thin tube inserted through the skin of the chest into a vein near the heart for chemotherapy. One end stays outside the body.
Damage or change to body tissue that may or may not be cancer.
Part of the immune system – the body’s natural defence against infection and disease. The lymphatic system is made up of organs such as bone marrow, the thymus, the spleen and lymph nodes.
The name given to cancers that develop in the lymphatic system.
This means cancerous. Malignant tumours have the ability to spread to different parts of the body.
When the cancer has spread from one part of the body to another. Cancer that has spread is sometimes called metastatic disease.
The study and practice of treating cancer.
The medical care of children.
Treatment that’s given to help improve quality of life but not to cure the cancer. Palliative treatment aims to meet the physical, spiritual, psychological and social needs of a person with cancer.
A thin, flexible tube put into a vein. It has an opening (port) just under the skin of the chest.
A cancer that starts in a single area of the body (site). Most cancers, other than leukaemias and lymphomas, are primary cancers. See also secondary cancer.
The way a disease is likely to affect someone in the future.
A specially made replacement for a part of the body that has been removed. For example, an artificial leg or breast.
The use of high-energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells.
A computer-generated image of the inside of the body.
A cancer that has spread to another part of the body.
A type of drug that can help treat cancer.
This is when no more treatment can be given to control the cancer, and the end of life is near.
A growth or lump that may or may not be cancer.