Immature Cells

Cells which are not fully developed. Cancer cells are immature cells. The more immature the cancer cell compared to a normal cell, the more aggressive that particular cancer is thought to be. See Cell Differentiation, Grade.

Immediate Reconstruction

Breast Reconstruction carried out at the same time as the operation to remove the breast. See Breast Reconstruction.


Living for ever. Normal cells reproduce a fixed number of times and then die. Cancer cells can carry on reproducing for ever and so are immortal.

Immune Response

The reaction of the body to anything from outside the body (foreign). This includes bacteria, viruses and foreign bodies. The immune response includes the manufacture of antibodies by B lymphocytes (helped by T lymphocytes). Foreign cells are also swallowed by cells called phagocytes. See Antibodies, B Lymphocytes, Immune System, T Lymphocytes.

Immune System

System of the body that fights infection and causes allergic reactions. Includes the lymph glands, spleen and white blood cells. See Lymph Glands, Spleen, White Blood Cells.


Resisting infection. The body activates the immune response when it is invaded by bacteria or viruses. Once the body has been exposed to a disease, it remembers it. If the disease should invade again, the immune system can react very quickly and keep the disease at bay. This is how vaccination works. Some people have poor immunity, which means they do not have much resistance to disease. This can be because they have a condition which has damaged their immune system (for example AIDS). Or it can be because chemotherapy has temporarily reduced their white blood cell count (and so their immunity). See AIDS, Antibodies, Chemotherapy, Immune Response, Immune System, Vaccination.

Immunoblastic Large Cell

A type of lymphoma. It is diagnosed by the appearance of the cells under the microscope. This is a high grade lymphoma. See Grade: Lymphomas, Lymphoma.


Treatment that stimulates the body's immune system to fight cancer. Interferon and interleukin 2 are immunotherapies. See Immune System, Interferon, Interleukin.


Something put into the body as treatment. Can be permanent as in Breast Implant or for a short time as in radioactive implant. See Breast Reconstruction, Radioactive Implant.


Inability to get an erection.

(Fecal Incontinence, Urinary Incontinence)

Not being able to control passing urine (urinary incontinence) or passing a bowel motion (fecal incontinence).

Indemnity Insurance

Insurance against damage claims.

Independent Scientific Review
(Scientific Review)

In research, a trial plan being looked over by a group of qualified people who are nothing to do with the trial. See Clinical Trials.


Unable to have children.


The inability to have children.


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

Informed Consent

Agreeing to take part in a clinical trial, or have a particular treatment, with a full understanding of the benefits and drawbacks.

(IFN, Interferon Alpha, Interferon Beta)

Type of immunotherapy. Natural substance produced in the body in tiny quantities as part of the immune response. Given in much larger quantities as treatment to boost the immune system and help fight the cancer. There are different types of interferon e.g. interferon alpha. See Immune System, Immunotherapy.

Interleukin 2
(IL2, Interleukin)

Type of immunotherapy. Natural substance produced in tiny quantities as part of the immune system. Given in much larger doses as treatment to boost the immune system and help fight the cancer. See Immune System, Immunotherapy.

Interleukin 3

A growth factor which encourages the bone marrow to make more white blood cells. See Bone Marrow, Growth Factors, White Blood Cells.

Interleukin 6

Part of the immune response. A growth factor produced by T cells (among others) which stimulates B cells to mature and grow. See B Cells, Lymphocytes, T cells, Immune Response, Immune System.

Intermediate Grade

A group of types of lymphomas. There are three grades of lymphomas: high, intermediate and low. Grade is used to decide on treatment. In practice, doctors tend to group intermediate grade and high grade lymphomas together. See Grade: Lymphomas, High Grade:Lymphomas.

Internal Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy given by putting a source of radiation inside the body. Sometimes called 'brachytherapy'. Can be a solid source (for example, radioactive grains put into the prostate), or liquid (for example, radioactive iodine given to treat thyroid cancer).

Intrathecal Injection
(IT Injection, Intrathecally)

Injection into the fluid around the spinal cord. Some chemotherapy needs to be given this way for particular types of cancer that may spread to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

Intravenous Infusion

Running fluid into the bloodstream. A bag of fluid is connected to plastic tubing and a needle which is put into a vein, usually in the arm.

Intravenous Urogram
(IVU, IVP, Intravenous Pyelogram)

Scan of the kidneys, ureters (tubes running from the kidneys to the bladder), bladder and urethra (tube running from the bladder to the outside of the body). A dye is given by injection. This collects in the urinary system and can be looked at using an X-ray.

Intrauterine Device
(IUD, Coil)

Type of contraception. Small shaped piece of plastic which is placed in the womb and stops a fertilized egg from burying into the womb lining and so stops pregnancy.

Inverted Nipple

Nipple which is turned inwards rather than sticking out.

Iodine 131
(I131, Radioactive Iodine, Radio Iodine)

Form of iodine which is radioactive. Used to treat cancer of the thyroid.

(Iridium Wires)

A radioactive source used to give internal radiotherapy. Often used as wires, which are put into the tumor under anesthetic. See Internal Radiotherapy, Radioactive Source, Radiotherapy Implant.


Kept apart from other people. People having high dose chemotherapy, bone marrow or stem cell transplant are often looked after in single rooms while their white blood cell counts are low. This is to protect them from infection while their immunity is low. Their visitors have to follow special rules such as wearing aprons and washing their hands when they enter and leave the room. The isolation restrictions vary, but often include restrictions on what you can eat. For example, you may not be allowed salads, unpeeled fruit, soft cheese, or cream. And you may only be allowed one or two visitors a day. See Bone Marrow Transplant, High Dose Chemotherapy, Immunity, Stem Cell Transplant.


Variation of a normal chemical substance which can be radioactive. Can be used to diagnose or treat cancer (for example, Sr89 is an isotope of strontium used to treat bone cancer).

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