Understanding Medical Terminology Associated With Cancer (5) .pdf
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Understanding Medical Terminology Associated With Cancer
Cancer can be difficult enough to understand without trying to interpret complex medical terminology.
A basic understanding of these terms can make dealing with a cancer diagnosis less complex. Find
out what some often used terms mean before your follow up appointment with your doctor and talking
to your loved ones.
Benign growths are noncancerous but some benign growths have the potential to become cancerous
if left untreated. Usually, benign tumors are contained within a sheath, which prevents them from
metastasizing into other parts of the body. Benign tumors must normally be removed surgically
because they do not respond to chemotherapy or radiation treatment. The two major issues
surrounding benign tumors are the fact that they may be precancerous and the growth of the tumor
pressing against and interfering with the processes of vital organs. Malignant tumors have the ability
to progress into cancer, metastasize into other areas, and may result in the death of the patient.
Malignant tumors involve unregulated cell growth and uncontrolled cell division.
Metastasis in the term used to describe cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Metastasis
may involve the local, surrounding area, the lymph or blood system, organs that are near to the origin
or distant organs. Staging of cancer takes several things into account including the extent and
severity of metastasis.
Morbidity is used to define the incidence of cancer within the population. Mortality or mortality rate
refers to the number of people within a defined population who die from a specific disease. The
survival rate defines the number of people with cancer who have lived beyond a specified period of
time after being diagnosed or treated for the disease. These rates give you a very general idea of
how may people are affected with cancer, how many people die from cancer and the percentage of
cancer patients who were able to survive cancer. These rates are available as a whole or broken
down by each type of cancer. For example, the mortality rate is much higher for people with lung
cancer than it is for people with skin cancer. However, the rate of morbidity is higher for skin cancer
than it is for lung cancer.
Systemic therapy uses chemicals, radioactive substances or hormones injected into the bloodstream
to reach all cells throughout the body. While many types of systemic therapies are highly effective,
they also affect noncancerous cells and create a wide range of serious side effects. Chemotherapy,
radiation and biological therapy are the most widely used treatments to destroy cancer cells and
prevent them from reproducing.
Remission is used to describe the period of time after treatment when the symptoms of cancer are
reduced or ended. Remission can be temporary or a permanent cure. Recurrence is the return of
cancer symptoms after a period of being symptom-free.
Learning the terminology will not make your fight against cancer easier but it can simplify the process
of understanding and discussing what is happening. Know what these terms mean and how they
affect your health.
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