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Glossary of Terms/Common Abbreviations in Oncology

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ADL

activities of daily living


ANC

absolute neutrophil count, the absolute number of bacterial infection fighting blood cells low means notably higher risk for infection


Atalectasis

incomplete expansion of a portion of the lung or the whole lung


BAC

bronchioloalveolar carcinoma, a unique and uncommon subtype of lung cancer


CR

complete response (after treatment), leading to no evidence of disease (NED)


CT

computerized tomography, “cat scan”, a detailed look at the body at varying levels internally, “slice by slice”


CT/PET

a combined scan that does a simultaneous CT, which measures the shape and size of body structures, with PET, which measures metabolic activity. The images can then


CTC

circulating tumor cells, in blood


CTCs

circulating tumor cells


CXR

chest x-ray


DCR

disease control rate, the combination of response rate and proportion of patients achieving stable disease


DNI

“do not intubate”, an order to not place an endotracheal (“breathing”) tube down the trachea (windpipe) in order to be placed on a mechanical ventilation machine


DNR

“do not resuscitate”, an order to not perform chest compressions, defibrillation, etc., in the event that a person is unresponsive and has no pulse, etc.


Dx

diagnosis


EGFR

epidermal growth factor receptor, a key target that modulates growth and division of cancer cells


FISH

fluorescence in situ hybridization, a method for detecting the number of copies of a gene in tumor cells, “positive” being higher than expected for a normal cell


Gy

Gray, the units of radiation dosing


HCT

the percentage of blood that is comprised of red blood cells, normally approximately 38-45%, but commonly below that in patients receiving cancer treatment


Hematocrit

the percentage of blood that is comprised of red blood cells, normally approximately 38-45%, but commonly below that in patients receiving cancer treatment


IHC

immunohistochemistry, a method for detecting levels of specific proteins on tumor cells


INR

international normalized ratio, a measurement of the degree of blood thinning, compared to an international standard, in which an INR of 2 corresponds to blood requiring twice as long as normal blood to develop a clot


IV

intravenous


LAN

lymphadenopathy, abnormally enlarged lymph nodesmedian the number within a population for which half of the values are above and half are below it; this reflects the general trend of how a population does but discounts the “pull” of the extremes on either side


MRI

magnetic resonance imaging, a type of scan particularly good at evaluating brain, muscle, bone, nerves


N/V

nausea and vomiting


NED

no evidence of disease, a nice report to get


NSCLC

non-small cell lung cancer, main subtypes including adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma


ORR

objective response rate


OS

overall survival


p value

the probability that an observed occurrence would occur by chance alone; convention is that something is considered “statistically significant” if the “p-value” is less than 0.05, translating to a less than 5% chance of the event occurring by chance.


pack-years

The product of the number of years a person has smoked by the average number of cigarette packs smoked per day


PCR

polymerase chain reaction, a sensitive method for detecting gene mutations in cancer cells


PD

progressive disease


PEG

percutaneous endoscopic gastrostromy tube, or G-tube tube placed endoscopically that is anchored in the stomach and passes out through the abdominal wall, through which “tube feedings” of nutrition and fluids, as well as medicines, can be administered


PET

positron-emission tomography, a type of scan that measures metabolic activity, which tends to highlight areas of cancer


PFS

progression-free survival, the time before a patient demonstrates progression


platelets

blood cells that contribute to the clotting process, normally in the 150,000 450,000 range, although commonly below that in patients receiving cancer treatment


PLT

platelets


PO

oral, by mouth


PR

partial response (generally defined as ~50% tumor shrinkage, or greater)


PRN

as needed


PS

performance status, commonly measured on a scale from 0 (asymptomatic, unrestricted) to 5 (dead)


Pt

patient


Px

prognosis


QOL

quality of life


RBC

red blood cells, the oxygen carrying blood cells (anemia means low RBC levels)


RR

response rate


RT

Radiation therapy


Rx

treatment


SCLC

small cell lung cancer staged as LD and ED for limited disease and extensive disease, respectively (often written as SCLC-ED, for instance)


SD

stable disease


SUV

standard uptake value, the unit of measuring metabolic activity on a PET scan


Tx

treatment


VEGF

vascular endothelial growth factor, the most important modulator of new blood vessel formation, and the target for “anti-angiogenic” agents


WBC

white blood cells, infection fighting blood cells, of which there are a few types


XRT

external beam radiation therapy (basically, standard radiation)



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