(Caesium 137, Caesium Wires)

A radioactive source used to treat cancers of the cervix, uterus and vagina. Also used in the form of fine wires to treat other types of cancer. See Cervix, Radioactive Source, Uterus, Vagina.


A substance which is essential to life. Calcium salts are needed for healthy bones and teeth. A small amount of calcium is necessary in the blood. If this level is too high (hypercalcaemia) or too low (hypocalcaemia) this can be dangerous. Measured with a blood test. See Blood Tests.

Cancer Relief Macmillan Fund

Charity which provides grants (money) for people with cancer in need. Also pays for and supports Macmillan nurses.

Cancer Vaccines

Experimental treatment currently being researched that may be able to limit cancer growth or eventually, stop people getting cancers. Research for this type of treatment is at a very early stage.


Tube into the body for putting in, or draining off, fluids. Usually means a fine tube that goes into a vein.

Capillary Network

System of the smallest blood vessels found in every body organ. The capillaries connect the arteries and the veins and take oxygen and nutrients directly to the body cells. See Blood Vessels, Circulation.

Capsular Contracture

Complication of Breast Reconstruction when a Breast Implant has been put in. After the operation, a fibrous covering naturally forms over the implant. This can shrink and become tight, causing the implant to change shape. See Breast Implant, Breast Reconstruction.

Carbon Dioxide

Waste gas from the body tissues. The carbon dioxide filters back into the alveoli and is breathed out from the lungs. See Alveoli.

Carcinoembryonic Antigen

A marker used to help diagnose some types of cancer (eg bowel cancer). Can also be used to check whether the cancer may have recurred (come back). CEA is not always a reliable test for cancer. The level goes up with other illnesses and does not go up in everyone with bowel cancer. See Marker.


Something that causes cancer.


A cancer of the epithelial or skin tissue that covers all the body organs and lines all the body cavities. Most cancers are carcinomas.

Carcinoma In Situ

An early cancer that has not broken through the basement membrane of the tissue it is growing in. So it cannot spread anywhere else in the body and can usually be cured by removing it surgically. See Basement Membrane.


Dense tissue that lines the joints. A cancer of cartilage is called a chondrosarcoma. See Connective tissue.


See Bicalutamide.

Cat Scan

See CT Scan.


Tube that is passed into the body to drain fluid. Usually urinary catheter which drains urine from the bladder.


The building block of the body. Every part of the body is made up of individual cells. Cells are basically very similar. But each type of cell is specialized for the part of the body it makes up. For example, the liver is made up of liver cells. Cancer is a disease that starts with one cell becoming cancerous.

Cell Adhesion

Cells sticking together, so that they stay in the right place in the body. Most normal cells must do this to survive. See Cell.

Cell Differentiation

How cells become specialized as they become fully grown and developed. They are said to 'differentiate' into mature blood cells or bone cells for example. Very young cells are not very specialized. They haven't differentiated. See Cell.

Cell Division
(Doubling, Growth, Multiplying)

How cells multiply and so body tissues grow. Each cell can split into two, reproducing itself exactly. This is called doubling. Normally, this is a slow, well controlled process. In cancer, it becomes out of control. Cell division happens too often and so a lump is formed. See Cell.

Central Line
(Hickman Line, Portacath)

Long plastic tube (like a drip) that goes into a large vein near the heart. Central lines can be used for taking blood samples and giving drugs, including chemotherapy. In some types the tube comes out of the body at the side of the neck, or into the chest. An injection can be given into the tube, or a drip attached to it. In other types called 'ports' a small chamber or reservoir is placed at the end of the tube under the skin in the chest or arm. A needle is put into the chamber for giving injections or attaching drips.

Central Nervous System Lymphoma
(CNS Lymphoma)

Cancer of the lymphatic system which is growing in the brain or spinal cord. See Lymphatic System.


Neck of the womb.

Charity Grants

Money made available to people in need, usually for particular things eg extra heating costs, travel expenses. See Cancer Relief Macmillan Fund.

Chi Squared Test

Statistical test that helps to show if there is a real difference between different treatments being tested in a controlled clinical trial. See Clinical Trial.


A cancer of cartilage tissue. See Connective tissue.

(Circulatory System)

The route the blood follows when it flows through the body. The blood flows from the right side of the heart to the lungs where it picks up oxygen. It goes back to the left side of the heart and is then pumped around the body. After it has traveled around the body, it goes back to the right side of the heart.

(Continuous Hyperfractionated Accelerated Radiotherapy)

Stands for Continuous Hyperfractionated Accelerated Radiotherapy. A way of giving radiotherapy where more than one treatment (fraction) per day is given.

Check Up
(Check Ups)

Medical appointment after treatment has finished to see how the patient is.


Drug treatment - usually used to mean with anti-cancer drugs. Normally a course of six treatments are given about a month apart.

Chemotherapy Course
(Course Of Chemotherapy)

A series of anti-cancer drug treatments. Usually about six treatments make up a course. A treatment is given every two, three or four weeks. So a course can take six months.

Chemotherapy Drugs

Anti-cancer drugs.

Chemotherapy Pump
(Chemotherapy Pumps, Infusion Pumps)

Machine which controls how fast anti-cancer drugs are given. Some types of pump are attached to a drip. Other types are small, portable pumps which hold their own syringe or bag of drugs. The portable pumps can be used at home, with trips to the hospital only to change the syringe or bag.

Chemotherapy Regime

Plan of treatment with anti-cancer drugs. Includes which drugs are given, doses, and when they are to be given.

Chemotherapy Side Effects

Unwanted effects of treatment with anti-cancer drugs (sickness, hair loss etc).

Chemotherapy Tablets

Chemotherapy that can be taken by mouth. Most chemotherapy drugs cannot be given as tablets, either because the drug is too toxic to the stomach, or because the digestive juices destroy it. But some can be taken as tablets, for example, chlorambucil, hydroxyurea. See Chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy Trial

Research study looking at a particular chemotherapy treatment. Usually compares the new treatment with existing treatment to see which works best and find out the benefits and drawbacks. See Clinical Trials.


Also called thorax. Part of the body between the neck and bottom of the rib cage. Contains the lungs and heart.

Chest Infection
(Chest Infections)

Infection of the lungs or airways.

Chest Wall

Muscle covering the chest behind the breasts.

Chest X-ray
(Chest X-rays)

Picture of the inside of the chest, mainly of the lungs, taken using high energy rays.

Chicken Pox

Infectious disease caused by a virus called herpes zoster. Can be dangerous to people who have had chemotherapy, especially high dose for bone marrow or stem cell transplant. The virus can also cause shingles.

(Cholera Vaccine)

Infectious disease. You can have a vaccination against cholera if you are having chemotherapy. See Vaccination.


A metal used in the dyeing and leather tanning industries. Also used to cover other metals for decoration and to protect them from rusting. Thought to be a factor in the cause of some cancers.


Found in the nucleus (centre) of all human cells, the chromosomes are made of millions of genes. The genes are codes that control the cell. One set of chromosomes is inherited from each parent through the egg and sperm that join together when an egg is fertilised during conception. See Genes, Heredity.


A classification of diseases puts different diseases into groups that have similar characteristics. Different varieties of a type of cancer can be classified according to the appearance of the cells under the microscope. For example, low grade and high grade can be grouped together. Doctors use classifications to help them decide how best to treat a particular cancer. See Grade.

Cleaning the Marrow

This means removing any cancer cells that may still be in marrow that has been harvested for autologous bone marrow transplant. See Autologous Transplant, Bone Marrow, Bone Marrow Harvest, Bone Marrow Transplant.

Clinical Oncologist

Doctor who specialises in treating cancer.

Clinical Trial
(Clinical Trials, Trial, Trials)

Research studies involving people to see which treatments work best and find out the benefits and drawbacks.

(Blood Clot, Blood Clots)

Thickened lump of blood.


Normal way the body stops bleeding. Some of the blood will thicken and form a clot. This will block the bleeding point or wound.

Clotting Time

Blood test to see how fast the blood clots. Measured during a chemotherapy course. It can be dangerous if the clotting time is too slow as bleeding can happen inside the body.

(Cobalt 60)

A radioactive source which gives off gamma rays (radiation). See Radiation.

Cold Cap

Can be worn during chemotherapy treatment. Makes the skin of the head very cold. This slows the blood flow through the scalp and so reduces the amount of anti-cancer drugs reaching the hair follicles. Can help to prevent hair loss, but not suitable for everyone. See Hair Follicles.

Collecting Tubules

Tubes in the testicles where sperm develop.

(Bowel, Large Bowel, Large Intestine)

Last part of the digestive system. Also called the large bowel, large intestine, or the bowel. Waste left from digested food passes through the bowel to the rectum (back passage) and then through the anus to the outside of the body. See Anus, Rectum.


Examination of the colon (Large Bowel) using a colonoscope. The colonoscope is a long thin bendy tube which is put up into the colon through the anus. The tube is connected to an eyepiece which allows the doctor to see inside the bowel. And to take biopsies (samples of tissue) for examination under the microscope. A colonoscopy can see further up into the bowel than any other investigation of this type. See Proctoscopy, Sigmoidoscopy.

Colorectal Cancer

Cancers of the colon and rectum. These are grouped together and called colorectal cancer because they both affect the bowel and so the treatment is often similar (although not exactly the same). In practice it is very rare to have both. Most patients will have one or the other.


Opening of the bowel onto the surface of the abdomen (tummy). A bag is worn to collect the waste matter from digestion that would normally be passed from the body as a bowel motion. See Permanent Colostomy, Stoma, Temporary Colostomy.

Colostomy Bag
(Colostomy Pouch)

Bag that is made for use with a colostomy. Most commonly a seal called a flange is stuck over the stoma with a special glue and the bag is attached to the flange. There are many different designs and it may take a few tries to find one that suits you. Your stoma nurse will help find the right one for you. See Colostomy, Stoma.

Colostomy Equipment

Means the bags, seals, clips etc that are made for use with a colostomy. See Colostomy, Colostomy Bag, Stoma, Stoma Nurse.

Combination Chemotherapy

Treatment with more than one anti-cancer drug at a time.

Combined Pill

Pill to prevent pregnancy containing both the female sex hormones (oestrogen and progesterone).


Something given to make up for harm done.

Complementary Therapy

A treatment that is not part of traditional Western medicine, but that is used alongside. Usually used to help reduce stress and promote a feeling of well being. Often help to control cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.

Complete Response

To a researcher, this means the disappearance of all cancer for at least four weeks.


Rubber sheath which covers the penis during sex to prevent pregnancy and infections.

Confidence Interval

Range of values that researchers believe an experimental result lies between. What they are really saying with a 95% confidence interval, is that while their result might not be exactly right, they are 95% sure that the real result lies between the upper and lower limits they have given.



Connective Tissue

The connective tissues of the body are the tissues that hold the organs and other body structures in place. Specialized connective tissues include bones, cartilage, muscles, and nerves. Cancers of connective tissue are called sarcomas.


Agree to something.

Consent Form

Form that you are asked to sign before treatment (especially surgery). The form says that you have been told about the treatment and any possible complications. So it is important that you think about what you need to know and ask your doctor any questions before you sign the form.


Not having bowel movements as often as normal.


A contagious disease is one that is spread from one person to another by contact (touch).

Continuous 5-FU
(Continuous 5-Fluorouracil, 5FU)

Continuous chemotherapy treatment with the drug 5-FU or 5-Fluorouracil. See Continuous Chemotherapy.

Continuous Ambulatory Chemotherapy

Literally means chemotherapy given all the time that you can walk around with! Usually used to mean treatment with a small (personal stereo sized) pump that is worn under the clothes. See Chemotherapy Pump, Continuous Chemotherapy.

Continuous Chemotherapy
(Continuous Administration)

Way of giving chemotherapy treatment. The chemotherapy drug is given all the time, through a pump that runs over 24 hours. See Chemotherapy Pump.


Something used to prevent pregnancy (for example, sheath, cap, pill).

Contraceptive Pill

Pill to prevent pregnancy.

Contrast Medium
(Contrast Injection)

A substance used to make scan results show up more clearly. Can be a drink or injection given to a patient before a CT scan, for example.

Control Group

In research, a group of patients not having the treatment being tested. Their results are compared to the treatment group. Usually the control group will be having the best current treatment. See Best Current Treatment.

Controlled Trial

A clinical trial where one group of patients is compared to another. Usually the patients are put into the two groups at random to help stop the results being biased. See Clinical Trial, Control Group.


Helping someone to work through their feelings or problems by listening to them and supporting them.


Someone who is trained to provide Counselling.

CT Scan
(CAT Scan, CT Scans)

Computerised tomography scan. X-ray scan using a computer to construct pictures of the body in cross section.

CT Scanner
(Cat Scanner)

Machine used for CT scan (computerised tomography scan) which is an X ray scan using a computer to construct pictures of the body in cross section.


Soft breast shaped pad worn in the bra after an operation to remove a breast until the scar has healed. Then a Breast Prosthesis will be fitted.

Curative Treatment

Treatment which is aiming to cure a disease.

Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma

A rare type of lymphoma that affects the skin. Begins with red scaly patches forming on the skin. These may be very itchy. The two main types of T cell lymphoma of the skin are Mycosis Fungoides and Sezary Syndrome. Often treated with ultraviolet light and with chemotherapy and steroids. See Chemotherapy, Lymphoma, Mycosis Fungoides, T Cell Lymphoma.


An anti-cancer drug (chemotherapy).


See Cyproterone.


Anti-androgen tablet (also called Cyprostat). Blocks the effects of testosterone (the male sex hormone).


Fluid filled sack or lump.

(Bladder Infection, UTI)

Bladder or urinary tract infection.


An instrument for looking at the inside of the bladder, the prostate gland and urethra.


The tube of a cystoscope is passed into the bladder under general anaesthetic and the surgeon uses it to look at the inside of the bladder and urethra and check to see if anything is wrong.


'Toxic to cells' - anti-cancer treatment.

Cytotoxic Drugs

Anti-cancer drugs.

Cytotoxic T Cells
(Killer T Cells)

Cells of the immune system that kill other cells that are foreign to the body (for example, bacteria, viruses and cancer cells) including cells that have been marked with antibodies. Cytotoxic T cells are a type of white blood cells. See Antibodies, Immune system, T cells.

Cytotoxic Therapy

Treatment with anti-cancer drugs. Another name for chemotherapy.

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