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Glossary



 Androgen

A type of hormone that promotes the development and maintenance of male sex characteristics.

 Blood Cell Transplants

Procedures that restore stem cells that were destroyed by chemotherapy or radiation by transplanting immature cells that can mature into blood cells into the blood stream.

 Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy is a form of radiation therapy that involves implanting radioactive “seeds” directly inside or near the tumor. Brachytherapy can be permanent, where the seeds remain inside of the body, or temporary, where the seeds are removed after treatment. Temporary brachytherapy can be administered at a low-dose rate (LDR) or high-dose rate (HDR). Brachytherapy is commonly used to treat localized prostate cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer, and cancers of the head and neck.

 Bragg Peak

Describes the characteristic pattern of energy deposition when a charged particle moves through matter. In proton therapy, the dose deposited by a proton beam increases gradually with increasing depth until close to the maximum proton range and then rises to a peak – the Bragg Peak. A proton beam can be distributed so that the Bragg Peak occurs precisely within a volume of about 3 to 5 mm radius, something that can almost never be done with X-rays. The net dose to healthy tissue surrounding the tumor volume can be much less than that to the tumor itself, thus sparing the normal tissue in this area. The dose immediately beyond the Bragg Peak is essentially zero, which allows for the sparing of all normal tissues distal to the tumor volume.

 Carboplatin

Carboplatin is a form of the anticancer drug cisplatin. It attaches to DNA in cells and may kill cancer cells. It is a type of platinum compound. Also called Paraplatin.

 Chemotherapy

A form of treatment that involves the use of chemicals to stop disease-producing organisms or cancerous tissue from growing. Depending on the type of drug prescribed, chemotherapy can be administered through a vein, through direct injection into a body cavity, or orally in the form of a pill.

 Cyclotron

A circular particle accelerator that generates and accelerates protons to be used for treatment.

 Dosimetrist

A medical professional who specializes in the operation of radiation equipment and the calculations of radiation dosage. A dosimetrist works closely with radiation oncologists and medical physicists to develop a computerized treatment plan, calculate treatment doses, and monitor the unit setting to ensure that the correct radiation dosage is delivered as prescribed. A dosimetrist also conducts regular quality-assurance reviews and recalibrates the radiation equipment.

 Ependymoma

A type of brain tumor that begins in cells lining the spinal cord central canal (fluid-filled space down the center) or the ventricles (fluid-filled spaces of the brain). Ependymomas may also form in the choroid plexus (tissue in the ventricles that makes cerebrospinal fluid). Also called ependymal tumor.

 External Beam Radiotherapy

A method of generating radiation beams outside the patient and delivering them to the tumor site. The radiation destroys the DNA of tumor cells, making them unable to reproduce and grow.

 Gamma Knife

A form of stereotactic radiosurgery that uses highly focused beams of radiation and advanced imaging technology to target localized tumors and vascular abnormalities in the brain. The beams are delivered from multiple directions.

 Genetic Counseling

The process by which a patient at risk of passing on inherited disorders seeks advice from a medical geneticist regarding the prevention or management of such risk.

 Hypofractionation

Radiation treatment in which the total dose of radiation is divided into large doses and treatments are given less than once a day.

 IGRT

Image Guided Radiation Therapy. Coupled with an advanced imaging system, IGRT allows the tumor to be imaged prior to and during the delivery of radiation. The enables the tumor to be precisely monitored. This form of radiation therapy reduces the margin of healthy tissue exposed to radiation. Radiation beams can be adjusted to target the tumor even if its location has shifted in between treatment sessions.

 Immunotherapy

Uses the body’s natural defense system, the immune system, to attack tumor cells or to lessen the side effects that may be caused by some cancer treatments. This can be achieved by immunization or administration of therapeutic antibodies.

 IMRT

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy. A form of external radiotherapy that utilizes computer-controlled X-rays to deliver radiation doses to the tumor site. IMRT allows the radiation dose to conform more precisely to the shape of the tumor by modulating the intensity of the radiation beam. Multiple beams are used to reduce damage to any single beam path. IMRT is commonly used to treat prostate, head and neck, and central nervous system tumors.

 MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging, formerly referred to as magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) or nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), is a method used to visualize the inside of living organisms. It is primarily used to demonstrate pathological or other physiological alterations of living tissues and is a commonly used form of medical imaging.

 PET Scan

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a nuclear medicine medical imaging technique which produces a three-dimensional image or map of functional processes in the body.

 Phase II Trial

A study to test whether a new treatment has an anticancer effect (for example, whether it shrinks a tumor or improves blood test results) and whether it works against a certain type of cancer.

 Phase II/III Trial

A trial to study response to a new treatment and the effectiveness of the treatment compared with the standard treatment regimen.

 Phase III Trial

A study to compare the results of people undergoing a new treatment with the results of people undergoing the standard treatment (for example, which group has better survival rates or fewer side effects). In most cases, studies move into phase III only after a treatment seems to work in phases I and II. Phase III trials may include hundreds of people.

 Photon

X-ray. A discrete bundle (quantum) of electromagnetic energy, generally regarded as having zero mass, no electric charge, and an indefinitely long lifetime.

 Prospective

In medicine, a prospective study is a study or clinical trial in which participants are identified and then followed forward in time.

 Proton

A positively charged particle found in the nucleus of an atom. Protons used in proton therapy are derived from stripping a hydrogen atom of its electron. They can be accelerated and controlled to release their energy within a well-defined range in tissue.

 Randomized Trial

A study in which the participants are assigned by chance to separate groups that compare different treatments; neither the researchers nor the participants can choose which group. Using chance to assign people to groups means that the groups will be similar and that the treatments they receive can be compared objectively. At the time of the trial, it is not known which treatment is best. It is the patient's choice to be in a randomized trial.

 Registry Trial

A registry trial is observational whereas a clinical study is investigational. In other words, in a registry study, the physicians can treat the patients in ways they feel are most appropriate for the patients but in a clinical trial, the physicians must treat the patients by following the specific instructions given by the researcher. The researchers in a registry trial are passive observers and not proactive investigators.

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