Navigating a path through a cancer diagnosis can be an arduous and highly emotional journey. The cancer terms and definitions on this page are offered to provide clear and understandable explanations of phrases that you may encounter in your research.
Occurs when too much fluid builds up in the abdomen, which can set the stage for an infection. Fluid may also move from the abdomen into your chest and surround your lungs – making it hard to breathe.
Alternative Cancer Care
The use of different treatments or therapies that are not part of mainstream-conventional medicine. Alternative therapies or treatment can be used exclusively, or complementarily with conventional cancer therapies, thus establishing an Integrative approach.
Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels and is a normal part of growth and healing. Solid cancer tumors, which require a blood supply to grow, send chemical signals that stimulate angiogenesis to “feed” the tumor.
Apoptosis is the elimination (or “programmed cell death”) of cells that contain potentially dangerous mutations. Apoptosis ensures these abnormal cells will be unable to mutate and spread, thus maintaining the balance of cells in the human body, which is particularly important in the immune system.
Biological molecules found in blood, other body fluids or tissues. They are used to assess an individual’s risk of developing cancer or recurrence, predict success of a given therapy, and monitor the progression of disease to determine if a therapy is working.
A debilitating involuntary, wasting syndrome characterized by significant muscle, fat and weight loss, anorexia, and compromised immunity. It occurs in many cancers, usually at advanced stages. Chemotherapy toxicity can be a factor in the development and progression of cachexia.
Synchronizing the delivery of chemotherapeutic, cancer-fighting drugs with a patient’s own body clock. Chronotherapy treats cancer according to a patient’s biological-circadian rhythms, to improve efficacy of the medications while minimizing side effects associated with the toxicity of the drugs.
Diagnostic tests determine stage (tumor size, location, and whether it has spread). Staging ranges from 0 to 4. Stage 4 indicates the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, and may also be referred to as metastatic cancer.
The most common type of cancer, that starts in epithelial tissue that lines most of the organs in the body. Most cancers affecting the skin, breasts, kidney, liver, lungs, pancreas, prostate gland, head and neck are carcinomas.
Chemotherapy-induced mental fogginess impacting cognitive abilities including memory, concentration, and focus. Symptoms occur in many patients during or after treatment. Chemo brain can also be caused by other types of cancer treatments. Effects are generally, but not always, temporary.
Chemosensitivity testing uses excised cancer cells or fluid from the patient’s own tumor, to assess the efficacy of cancer drugs in a laboratory. Customizing protocols utilizing the patients’ “living” cancer cells, versus data from mass studies, provides superior information to determine which cancer drugs will be effective.
Over time, chronic inflammation may damage DNA, which can lead to cancer development. The American Cancer Society and many integrative doctors advocate a healthy and anti-inflammatory lifestyle to help reduce cancer risk or growth.
C-Reactive Protein Test
This blood test identifies inflammation markers. Credible studies suggest that elevated levels of inflammation markers (CRP) are associated with increased cancer risk for healthy patients and poor prognosis for diagnosed patients.
The study of how behavior, environment and lifestyle, may affect the way your genes work. Epigenetic changes can affect gene expression, to “turn on” tumor suppressor genes and “turn off” cancer-causing oncogenes. Different behaviors can increase or decrease your cancer risk.
The conscientious, judicious and reasonable use of the best evidence, integrates and incorporates pertinent research, clinical experience, and patient values. Such treatments or therapies may include integrative, alternative and standard of care modalities.
Is a patient-centered, holistic approach to address the root causes of chronic disease. It embraces a focus on nutrition, natural supplementation and lifestyle changes to address health problems.
Involves extracting living cancer cells and exposing them to various drugs and targeted agents to study the reaction. It is a way to tailor or personalize the pharmacological treatment of a disease.
A process which uses an individual’s DNA to determine which genetic variants they possess. Since some genotypes can make you more susceptible to disease, there are specific tests to see if you are more likely to develop certain diseases over time.
This scoring system, generally ranging between 6 and 10, is a prostate cancer assessment. Microscopic analysis evaluates cancer advancement and spread. Lower scores indicate slow spread, while higher scores indicate more rapidly advancing cancer. It’s used to help plan treatment and determine prognosis.
Use of substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection, and other diseases, or to restore immune system function.
The use of a combination of complementary medical treatments or therapies in conjunction with conventional cancer treatments and therapies.
When a cancer is surgically removed, the edge or border of the tissue removed is called the margin. It is typically 2mm of clean, negative tissue that does not show any trace of cancer.
The spread of cancer cells from the primary site or tumor to another part of the body, where they form another malignant tumor in other organs or tissues. Metastasis is also known as advanced cancer or stage 4 cancer.
Natural Killer Cells
A natural killer cell (“NK cell”) is a type of white blood cell. They can kill tumor cells and microbial infections by limiting their spread and subsequent tissue damage. NK cell activity may increase through specific nutritional changes and the use of certain supplements.
A method of preventing or healing disease with nutritional food-derived vitamins and targeted supplements that restore vital micronutrients in the body.
A complementary, targeted therapy, implemented to foster an anti-cancer environment. Specific-intentional, nourishing foods, nutrients and herbs are personalized to support the body, enhance the efficacy of conventional treatments, and augment quality of life.
Oncogenesis, also known as carcinogenesis, is the process through which normal cells become transformed into cancer cells. It involves genetic and epigenetic changes that cause the cells to grow and divide in an abnormal, uncontrolled manner.
A rare type of malignant tumor that develops in bone and connective tissues including fat, muscle, blood vessels, nerves and the tissue that surrounds bones and joints. Sarcomas make up only 1% of all adult cancer diagnoses.
Standard of Care
Generally accepted and widely used treatments and therapies. In the conventional cancer world, the therapeutic standard of care is generally recognized as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Evidence-based supplements include vitamins, botanicals, herbs, minerals, and extracts. Their use is personalized and targeted to support the immune system, reduce harsh side-effects, and inhibit cancer cell growth and progression.
The dynamic, complex ecosystem that surrounds and interacts with a tumor. It includes blood vessels, immune cells, inflammatory cells, the extracellular-matrix, and other aspects of vascularity. Some practitioners use off-label medications, evidence-based supplements and/or trial-proven herbs to inhibit tumor growth and metastasis.