Absolute neutrophil count (ANC): Total count of the neutrophils in the blood. It provides an indication of a person’s ability to fight infection.
Allogeneic transplant: Type of blood and marrow transplant in which the blood stem cells are donated by another person.
Alopecia: Hair loss; a common side effect of chemotherapy.
Anemia: Condition in which there is a reduction in the number of circulating red blood cells.
Anesthesia: Partial or total loss of sensation, with or without loss of consciousness, induced by the administration of a drug.
Anesthesiologoist: A doctor who specializes in the study and administration of anesthesia.
Antibody: A protein that works to defend the body against bacterial and viral infections.
Antigen: A foreign substance that stimulates the lymphocytes to produce antibodies.
Apheresis: The collection of blood components from a patient or donor in which desired elements are removed and the remainder returned to the body.
Artery: A blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to other tissues.
Ascites: An abnormal collection of fluid in the abdomen.
Asepsis (Aseptic): Free of infection.
Asymptomatic: Without symptoms.
Attending physician: Doctor on the staff of a hospital who has completed medical school, specialty residency, and subspecialty fellowship.
Autologous: From the same person. An autologous blood and marrow transplant is a procedure in which blood stem cells have been removed from a patient are given back to the same patient.
Bacteria: A group of one-celled organisms that can be viewed only through a microscope. Most bacteria do not cause harm; however, if the immune system is lowered, some can cause disease.
Benign: Not cancerous.
Bilateral: Occurring on both sides of the body.
Biopsy: Removal of a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope.
Blood type: Identification of the proteins in a person’s blood cells so that transfusions can be given with compatible blood products. Possible blood types are A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+ and O-.
Bone marrow: Soft, inner part of large bones that makes stem cells.
Bone marrow aspiration: Process in which a sample of fluid and cells is withdrawn from the bone marrow using a hollow needle.
Bone marrow biopsy: The removal of a sample of solid tissue from the bone marrow.
Blood and marrow transplant: A procedure in which doctors replace bone marrow that has been destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation.
CBC (complete blood count): Measurement of the numbers of white cells, red cells and platelets in a cubic millimeter of blood.
Cancer: A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control.
Carcinogen: A substance or agent that produces cancer.
Cardiac: Pertaining to the heart.
Catheter: A tube that can be placed into the body to deliver fluids or medications, or to drain fluid.3
Cell: The basic building block that makes up all the tissues and organs in the body.
Central nervous system (CNS): Brain, spinal cord and nerves.
Chemotherapy: Treatment of disease with drugs. The term usually refers to cytotoxic drugs given to treat cancer.
Chronic: Lasting over a long period of time.
Clinical trial: A carefully designed and executed investigation of a drug, drug dosage, combination of drugs or other method of treating disease. Each trial is designed to answer one or more scientific questions and to find better ways to prevent or treat disease.
Colony-stimulating factors: A substance that is used to stimulate the production of some types of bone marrow cells.
Combination chemotherapy: Using two or more chemotherapy drugs at the same time.
Combined modality therapy: Treatment that consists of two or more types of therapy, such as chemotherapy with surgery, radiotherapy or immunotherapy.
Conditioning: The treatment given before a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. Conditioning can include high-dose chemotherapy with or without total body irradiation. Also called preparative regimen.
Congenital: Any condition that is present at birth.
Cytokine: Proteins secreted by immune system cells which enable them to communicate with each other.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV): One of a group of herpes viruses that can cause fatal infections in immunosuppressed patients.
Cytotoxic: Causing the death of cells.
Engraftment: During bone marrow or stem cell transplant, the point at which the infused marrow is accepted by the patient and begins to produce blood cells.
Fellow: A physician who has completed four years of medical school, several years of residency, and is pursuing additional training in a specialized field.
Fine needle aspiration (FNA): Removing small samples of tissue, usually while under a local anesthetic, through a fine needle.
Gastrointestinal: Pertaining to the stomach and intestines.
Gene: A unit of DNA that transmits a single trait from a parent to a child.
Graft: Tissue or cells taken from one person (donor) and transferred to another person (recipient or host).
Graft-versus-host disease: A condition that may develop after an allogeneic blood and marrow transplant in which the transplant marrow (graft) attacks the patient’s (host’s) organs.
Granulocytes: A type of white cell which destroys foreign substances in the body, such as viruses, bacteria and fungi.
Hematologist: Physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of blood and blood-forming tissues.
Hemoglobin: The protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen.
Hemorrhagic cystitis: Bleeding from the bladder, which can be a side effect of the drug Cytoxan®.
Hepatic: Pertaining to the liver.
Hickman catheter: An indwelling catheter that has one end of the tubing in the heart and the other end outside the body.
Host: The person who receives the marrow during a blood and marrow transplant.
Human leukocyte antigen (HLA): Proteins on the surface of cells that are important in a transplant and transfusion. For BMTs, the HLAs on white cells of the patient and potential donor are compared.
Immune system: Complex system by which the body protects itself from foreign invaders.
Immunosuppression: Suppression of the immune system, which leaves the body susceptible to infection.
Immunotherapy: A type of caner therapy that uses the body’s own immune system to attack cancerous cells.
Informed consent: Giving permission to start treatment.
Infusion: Giving fluids or medications through a vein over a period of time.
Infusion pump: A small, computerized device that allows drugs to be given at home through an I.V. or in-dwelling catheter.
Intravenous-access line (I.V.): A hollow metal or plastic tube which is inserted into a vein and attached to tubing, allowing various solutions or medicines to be directly infused into the blood.
Jaundice: A yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes caused by too much bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice is indicative of liver problems.
Leukocytes: White blood cells.
Leukopenia: A below-normal number of white cells.
Localized: Cancer that has not spread to other areas within the body.
Lumbar puncture (Spinal tap): Procedure in which a needle is inserted between the vertebrae of the back to obtain a sample of cerebrospinal fluid and/or inject medication.
Lymph: A clear, colorless fluid found in lymph vessels throughout the body that help filter out bacteria and perform numerous other functions.
Lymph nodes: Rounded bodies of lymphatic tissues found in lymph vessels.
Lymph system: A system of vessels and nodes throughout the body that help filter out bacteria and perform numerous other functions.
Lymphocytes: Type of white cell formed in the lymphoid tissues that prevents infection and helps provide immunity to disease.
Metastasis: The spread of cancer from one area of the body to another through the lymph system of the blood.
Modality: A method of treatment.
Monocytes: Type of white blood cell.
Mucositis: In.ammation of the mucous membranes.
Myeloablative transplant: Patients are given high doses of chemotherapy and/or irradiation which essentially “wipes out” the patient’s bone marrow. This process eliminates most or all of the patients own stem cells, which are to be replaced with the donor’s stem cells.
Myelosuppression: Low blood counts caused by chemotherapy or radiation.
Nadir: The lowest point that blood counts will fall after chemotherapy.
Necrosis: The death of tissues caused by chemotherapy, radiation or a lack of blood supply.
Neoplasm: A new abnormal growth that may be benign or malignant.
Neuropathy: A condition sometimes caused by chemotherapy. Neuropathy is the malfunctioning of a nerve, which can cause numbness or weakness.
Neurotoxic: Substance that is poisonous to the brain, spinal cord and/or nerve cells.
Neutropenia: Condition when the body does not have enough neutrophils (a type of infection-fighting white cell).
Neutrophils: The most numerous of the granulocytic white cells. These cells migrate through the bloodstream to the site of infection, where they ingest and destroy bacteria.
Nonmyeloablative transplant: This type of transplant is sometimes referred to as a “mini” or reduced intensity transplant. Lower doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation are used, relying more on drugs that suppress the immune system. The donor’s cells “co-exist” in the body for a period of time before the donor’s cells take over. This type of transplant is a promising option for patients who might not be able to tolerate full dose myeloablative treatment.
Nutritionist: A professional who analyzes nutritional requirements and gives advice on how to eat an appropriate diet for any condition.
Oncologist: Doctor who specializes in the treatment of cancer.
Oncology: Study of cancer.
Pathologist: Doctor who specializes in examining tissue and diagnosing disease.
Pediatrician: Doctor who specializes in the care and development of children and the treatment of their diseases.
Plasma: The liquid part of the lymph and the blood.
Platelet: Disc-shaped blood cell which aids in blood clotting.
Port-a-cath: Indwelling catheter which has a small portal under the skin of the chest attached to tubing which goes into the heart.
Preparative regimen: See Conditioning.
Primary tumor: The original site where cancer first begins to grow.
Purging: A process to remove certain components found in bone marrow or stem cell harvest. In an autologous harvest, purging may be used to remove any remaining cancerous cells. In an allogeneic harvest, purging may be used to remove components of the donor collection that can cause graft-versus-host disease.
Radiation: High-energy rays which are used to kill or damage cancer cells.
Radiologist: Doctor who specializes in using radiation and radioactive isotopes to diagnose and treat disease.
Radiosensitive: A type of cancer that usually responds well to radiation.
Randomized: Chosen at random. In a randomized research project, a computer chooses which patients receive the experimental treatment(s) and which patients receive the standard treatment.
Recurrence: See Relapse.
Regression: The shrinking or disappearance of cancer cells, usually as a result of therapy.
Relapse: A return of cancer after its apparent complete disappearance.
Remission: Disappearance of detectable disease.
Residual disease: The cancerous cells that are left behind after a tumor has been surgically removed.
Right artrial catheter: Indwelling catheter with tubing that extend into the heart that provides access for drawing blood and injecting medication.
Roadmap: A guideline for a patient’s plan of care.
Second-look surgery: An operation performed after an initial surgery to allow the surgeon to view the area of the original procedure.
Seizure: Uncontrollable shaking of the body, often with loss of consciousness. Also called convulsion.
Sepsis: Bacterial growth found within the bloodstream.
Side effect: Unintentional or undesirable secondary effect of treatment.